Split classes by age

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  • #609753
    popa_bar_abba
    Participant

    I saw this idea in a Binah or Mishpacha, or something, letter to the editor, but it’s a good one.

    See, the problem is like this: There is a very big difference between a 6 year old and a 7 year old. So when the kids are in pre-1-A, the ones born in January are way advanced of the December and November kids. And this sets the younger kids back, and it compounds on itself in future years.

    According to Freakonomics, a study showed that Canadian NHL players are mostly from Jan-March because of this dynamic in the kids hockey leagues. And a similar study found similar results in elite universities.

    So the letter writer suggests that schools that have more than one parallel class should divide the classes up by age. And have the Jan-Jun kids in one class and the July-Dec kids in the other class.

    I think this is a really good idea. I encourage any of you out there who are primary school administrators to consider this.

    #960558
    YW Moderator-18
    Moderator

    There are some schools that already do this.

    #960559
    ☕ DaasYochid ☕
    Participant

    Boy, that was quick.

    #960560
    Brony
    Participant

    it’s gladwell not levitt. get your pseudoscientists straight.

    lol st. john’s.

    #960561
    writersoul
    Participant

    I’m pretty sure Yeshiva Ketana of Passaic and possibly other large schools already do this, presumably for logistical reasons.

    FTR, that would completely backfire, because if you’re really separating them because the older kids will do better, once the classes are separated, the older kids will continue to do better and the gap will only get even bigger. I happen to be a year-end baby and if I’d ended up in the weaker class or the class below I would’ve gone BALLISTIC long before now.

    And Gladwell is a total hedgehog. He’s a fantastic journalist but I hate his books.

    #960562
    ☕ DaasYochid ☕
    Participant

    FTR, that would completely backfire, because if you’re really separating them because the older kids will do better, once the classes are separated, the older kids will continue to do better and the gap will only get even bigger.

    I think the theory is that the weaker kids will only feel inferior to their classmates.

    #960563
    popa_bar_abba
    Participant

    FTR, that would completely backfire, because if you’re really separating them because the older kids will do better, once the classes are separated, the older kids will continue to do better and the gap will only get even bigger.

    That is a cute argument, but it really is tricking you. You need to think about it again.

    Look at this this way: Under the current system, it is presumed that anyone who is between 6 and 7 can do a 1st grade curriculum, and is made to do so. The younger kids have a much harder time, and seem weaker, while the older kids have it easier and seem smarter. The teachers take note of this, and the kids do as well, and that compounds the problem.

    So the suggestion is to split the class–but still teach both classes the exact same curriculum. That is, don’t slow it down for the younger kids even one drop! The only difference is that the 6 year olds are not longer being compared against the 7 year olds.

    #960564
    writersoul
    Participant

    DY: And then what? Does that mean you should hold them back and prevent them from achieving as much as the smarter kids? Besides, weaker students don’t always benefit from only being in a class with weaker students- you have to deal with all kinds of people in your life. The same goes for the stronger students.

    And remember, Gladwell’s theory is about physical development, in which case it makes a lot of sense that a kid who has 6 more months to grow would be bigger and bulkier than a younger kid. But plenty of smart people were born in July and on- in fact, chances are, it’s pretty close to 50% (if you comb through the records and it’s significantly different, MAYBE we’ll talk).

    #960565
    popa_bar_abba
    Participant

    nd remember, Gladwell’s theory is about physical development, in which case it makes a lot of sense that a kid who has 6 more months to grow would be bigger and bulkier than a younger kid. But plenty of smart people were born in July and on- in fact, chances are, it’s pretty close to 50% (if you comb through the records and it’s significantly different, MAYBE we’ll talk).

    The thing I read about it claimed that the same results were found in elite universities.

    #960566
    writersoul
    Participant

    PBA: But a good teacher makes sure the kids understand. If the older kids are actually smarter, then they’ll naturally move ahead more quickly- unless you’ll want them to artificially stop.

    You have also not presented an iota of proof that a few months’ difference really makes a kid smarter.

    All I can say is that in my elementary school class, the valedictorian was born in October (younger end) and the salutatorians were born in December (older end) and August. (None of them were me, btw.)

    Are there statistics that show that kids born in the later months actually perform at a lower level than older kids? I’ve never seen it, and while I’d say that Gladwell’s not a great source because he cherry-picks, I don’t seem to remember him even mentioning a classroom component in Outliers.

    #960567
    agittayid
    Participant

    Pre-1-A: What is it?

    How is it different than kindergarten?

    #960568
    popa_bar_abba
    Participant

    Writersoul:

    Look, I don’t have a vested interest in this. My kids are all smart, and it won’t matter a bit because they’ll be the ones going on ski trips while your kids serve them french fries.

    I saw in a book that there is a statistically significant disproportionate percentage of kids born in the beginning of the year in elite universities. The only time I attempted to informally test this, it did not hold true, but there were a few problems with my “study”.

    Still, it is obvious to me that it is easier to learn to read when you are 7 than when you are 6. And it seems a bit funny that we have the 6 year olds and the 7 year olds learning to read in the same classroom.

    Will the smart kids catch up anyway? Sure. But it seems like the sort of thing that could make a real difference.

    So why not just divide up the kids by how smart they are? That is probably a good idea also. But in first grade, you don’t really know that yet, and you do know this. Also, it feels less fair when it is age.

    #960570
    yehudayona
    Participant

    Pre-1A is NewYorkJewishese for the year before first grade, which the rest of the world calls kindergarten. Kindergarten, in NY Jewish circles, is the year before Pre-1A. I have no idea where Pre-1A comes from. Pre-1 makes sense, but what’s the A about?

    #960571
    writersoul
    Participant

    PBA: While I haven’t yet met my future kids, I don’t think they will be serving yours French fries. But if it makes you feel cool to say so, then whatever.

    Anyway, if they did do a study like that then sure. I’d love to see it. But for the purposes of this discussion, we don’t yet know that for sure.

    And seriously, NONE of your arguments fight for separating kids by age in the SAME grade- if they’re all capable of doing it at age six, then it shouldn’t make a difference about the class configuration. Your argument seems to be to double the number of grades and make smaller grade increments- a COMPLETELY different idea (and one which, upon further reflection, actually could make sense). If that’s not what you meant, it’s really what your arguments look like. Putting kids into a different class where they don’t have the pressure but learn the SAME EXACT THINGS doesn’t make sense, because if they’re all capable of learning the same things at the same pace then the point is moot. If not, then as I said in my FIRST post you’re only furthering the educational gap.

    And by the way, I also read in a book that tracking leads to serious issues among students. (Actually, I could probably find you the title if I look around- I did this topic for a school debate assignment- but still, your anonymous sources are worth just as much as mine are.)

    #960572
    popa_bar_abba
    Participant

    Fine you win. I agree.

    I don’t have a horse in this fight; if the whole thing is made up–then fine.

    I’m not saying to double the amount of classes. I’m just saying that instead of dividing the grades randomly, you should divide them by age. If it really makes no difference like you say, then it won’t matter anyway.

    #960573
    ☕ DaasYochid ☕
    Participant

    Writersoul, I don’t understand why you don’t get that six year olds will suffer self esteem issues by being lumped with seven year olds.

    #960574
    agittayid
    Participant

    Thank you, Yehudayona. I always wondered about that “A” myself.

    #960575
    geshicked
    Member

    PBA, don’t listen to the guys who can’t understand what you’re suggesting and instead ridicule. Dont give up so easily! They themselves probably could have benefitted from exactly what you are suggesting. What you’re saying makes a lot of sense when you consider child development. And many parents today see this too but since they can’t change the system they opt to leave their kids back. Many october kids are now being left back to give them an advantage. Personally I dont think it’s fair to the younger kids in the grade because now the age span is even greater than a year! If schools had the courage to do what you are suggesting, kids would be grouped with kids at their developmental level — it has nothing to do with intellegence! The younger kids are not academically weaker because they are less capable, but because they are being forced to perform at the same level as kids a year ahead of them.

    And to those who claim that a good teacher can teach to all levels at the same time, it’s very rare. Usually someone is losing out. Either it’s too slow for the kids who grasp things faster (because they are developmentally ready to grasp it!) or it’s too fast for the younger kids.

    My daughter’s school already does this and it’s wildly successful. All the parent support it. Unfortunately in my sons’ yeshiva they group by location instead of age. Why children need to be in class with 25 close neighbors is beyond me. The principal admitted liking the idea of grouping by age but he said the parent body wouldn’t support it because they like the convenience and the predictability of grouping by location. I wish he had the courage to divide the classes by age. I believe it would lead to fewer behavior problems both in the kids who are acting out because they’re bored and for the kids who are acting out because the lesson is over their head.

    #960576
    writersoul
    Participant

    Okay, people.

    I was born in October. For the purposes of this discussion, I will say that I was one of the smarter kids in the class.

    In my first grade class (which was grouped ENTIRELY RANDOMLY), we had four reading groups. I was in the highest group. (Actually, I knew how to read already, but that doesn’t matter, because since I was a tiny little five year old when school started I MUST have been intimidated by all those big six-year-olds who didn’t know how yet just because they were a few months older than me.) With me in that group, if I remember correctly, were girls born in August, October, December, March, and probably a bunch more equally scattered around the calendar.

    Look, intuitively, what you’re saying makes sense. BUT:

    – schools don’t typically point out to the other kids which are older and which are younger. No kid is going to be, “Yenty is older than me, so I’ll never be able to read like her!”

    – check out reading groups in school, and see if the higher groups REALLY have more older kids. Maybe they do, but I’d be skeptical.

    – what you’re really saying is track the kids, so that the “dumber” kids don’t have to be discouraged by the “smarter” kids. I have my issues with tracking, but this is quite frankly the stupidest way to track kids I have ever heard of. Unless the classes are shuffled after a while, considering that if the lower class really has some less intelligent kids than the older one it really will move more slowly, if there are the occasional “smart kids” shoved into that lower class SOLELY because they are on the younger end of the scale, they are now permanently stuck in the “lower” class.

    The merits and pitfalls of tracking in general are discussed much more effectively in other forums by more qualified people than I, but this is merely another method, and one a lot more arbitrary. There are plenty of smarter kids born in January and November, just as there are plenty of “dumber” kids born in February and October. By mixing the classes by “developmental level,” you are setting the younger kids- placed in the lower class by a fluke of birth at a permanent disadvantage by putting them in a class that will always move more slowly if the kids are really not at the same level.

    Do you always want your kids sheltered and not facing challenges? Do you really only want your kid to see people like him/her? (Oh, right, this is a frum audience. But still.) In life, we need to deal with people of all types and learn in all types of conditions.

    I’m too tired to really think of more stuff, but while I think that in theory this is a good idea, and while I think that it may not be so bad to use birth month as a criteria for class placement without giving a thought to the academics, a kid is not doomed to failure for seeing an older or smarter kid doing better than he/she does. And that smarter kid may easily not be older.

    Signed, an October baby who did quite well for herself.

    #960578
    ☕ DaasYochid ☕
    Participant

    Ok, an October baby did well, that debunks the whole theory.

    #960579

    Don’t know anything about the studies being referred to, and don’t think it interests me either. But for anyone who is curious, I was born in October, one of the youngest in my class. I managed to be editor in chief of my high school yearbook (a major job in my school) and valedictorian in seminary (one of top 4 marks; second if anyone is curious). I don’t feel too hurt by the fact that I was younger than most. Not that it means anything, but just an anecdotal evidence

    #960580
    big deal
    Participant

    The point is not that younger children are dumber than the ones a couple of months older than them. The point is that at such a young age kids make tremendous developmental strides in a short amount of months. Hence the idea of dividing young kids up according to age. Actually, where I live, they do it in the boys school and the girls and it makes a huge difference. Obviously there are exceptions to every rule, but in general maturity and acquiring basic fundamental concepts are better achieved and received in classes divided by age.

    Usually by second grade they mix the classes and you have all months in every grade.

    #960581
    yentingyenta
    Participant

    writersoul, YKP only does that for kindergarten. by P1A, its not by age anymore.

    #960582
    geshicked
    Member

    And I am a december baby — truly one of the youngest in my class — and I graduated with honors. That’s still not the point. Of course at some point age evens out. A 70 year old and a 70 1/2 year old are not developmentally different. But at young ages, such as 5,6,7, development happens at such a rapid pace that there is a huge difference between a seven year old and a just 6 year old. It is unfair that we lump them together and tell them both that we expect them to equally succeed. It’s not only about academics. It’s also what we expect of them socially. The older kids in the class are often the ones more self confident in social play while the younger ones are more easily intimidated. It’s rare that you’d find a youngest in the class truly bullying the older kids. Younger boys may want to still climb on the jungle gym while the older ones have already moved on to playing ball. It’s developmentally appropriate for the younger boy to still want to climb and slide, but he’ll be teased as a baby for it. Similarly, younger girls may still want to play house during recess but the older ones are on to jump rope. The house players are deemed “babies”. Grouping kids by age allows kids the freedom to act their age and be accepted for it. That does wonderful things for their self confidence and, therefore, their ultimate success.

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