I'm asked frequently, "How is this going to work?", referring to our decision to follow the one-room schoolhouse model that worked for centuries and is still working worldwide in rural areas. In fact, there are over 60 one-room schoolhouses active today in Montana alone. Epoch will be the next one!
The grade level model began when America began to institutionalize education and set national and statewide standards for each grade level and set expectations for what each child should know by each age. We think this is ludacris as it limits student learning. As a former grade school teacher I witnessed firsthand students that were mastering the curriculum set for their grade level and were given busy work nearly every day so that they didn't move forward too fast or become a "distraction" according to administration. Other kids skipped entire grades, but then suffered socially and emotionally because they were chronologically younger than their peers. When we, as educators, drop the forced expectations and open our minds enough to acknowledge that all children are unique and have different learning styles, master skills at different points, and are capable of learning far beyond what the government thinks they can be based on age alone, we can take kids to higher levels and help them reach their maximum potential.
Why limit their learning or cap their potential? Instead, in a one-room schoolhouse model like Epoch, the younger children are exposed to what the older children are learning, and when, and if, they're ready, they can practice skills that would have otherwise been reserved until the next grade in a traditional grade-level model. The older children benefit from hearing what they may have learned previously and the repetition causes the material to sink in and be understood on a deeper level. They also benefit from the exposure to new material and watching one another learn and apply learning in real-world situations and projects.
With regards to socioemotional development, the older children benefit from an extended childhood playing and interacting with the younger children and the little ones step up their maturity when they're around older children each day. There are role models built into this model! According to my research, the students begin to cooperate and interact like siblings in a family helping one another rather than competitive peers, and studies have shown that students learn better when they have to teach the material to others.
Forbes magazine says, "The one-room schoolhouse is a vision for the future, not just a relic of the past". At Epoch, our goal is to help each child reach their highest potential. We believe children have multiple intelligences and are capable of much more than what the government thinks they are! We teach far beyond state and nationwide standards.
Join us in Bozeman, Montana at Epoch, a Waldorf-y Forest School for the future! We are where the wild things grow. Info@epochbzn.com