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Small Class Sizes Aren’t New… They Were Best for Children Long Before COVID-19

 Much ado has been made, recently, about the need to reduce class sizes to 15 children or less in the public school system to keep our children safe from COVID-19.  Mere months ago our public educators withdrew their services from that same system over class sizes, online learning, and teacher compensation, but later settled with barely any reductions in class sizes.

The concept of small class sizes being the best for learning in children is not new. In fact, one of our primary advantages at Headwaters is our small class sizes of 8 children.  We didn’t do this recently – we have invested in small class sizes from the outset because children learn best when their teachers truly know them and their learning (and who can keep up with 24 children?).

In our search of the literature when we opened we could find few studies that looked at the positive impacts of reducing class sizes any lower than 12 (and few studies, in fact, found classes smaller than 16 students).  It is seen as economically unfeasible (indeed – small class sizes is our top financial investment).  So perhaps Headwaters Academy is the study of what can happen in small classes – truly small classes.

Some facts? Our students are two grade levels, on average, ahead of their peers in math.  They are also, on average, well above grade level in their language (both results coming from the Canadian Achievement Test, 2019).  But more importantly, our students are resilient.  They are kind.  They are enthusiastic, polite, inquisitive, and fit.  A couple children who joined us in late October of 2018 had grandparents noting that they saw a “massive” positive difference in the kids by that same Christmas.  Another parent told me, just yesterday, that her girls are saying “I can’t wait to go back to school” and no longer adore their holidays the way they did.  And perhaps, most tellingly, one student noted to his Mom after another didn’t want to volunteer to do their multiplication tables in public that “he just hasn’t been here long enough to know that we never laugh at each other here.”

Headwaters Academy will have record enrollment this Fall – because small class sizes have always been a good idea.





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