Denise Dee Haines describes the mixed grade community of The Classroom on Carpenter Lane, where the single classroom included twelve children aged five through eight years old who might have been in kindergarten, first grade and second grade:
“I’d had single grades and I’d had mixed grades. With a single grade, you have a (range) of skills, sometimes wider than you think you would have, sometimes at least as much as 3 or 4 levels in it, in different areas of the curriculum…and in maturity too!
“It seemed to me, if I were building my dream classroom, if we expanded it to include a number of ages, we could actually build over time, over the three years that a kid might be here, we could build a respect for all the ages. You would have an “Older” (second grade student) who had been a here as a “Younger” (kindergarten student), passing along the culture and traditions.”
Often the community included siblings. During the year of filming, “We had two sets of sisters, and a sister and brother… I was worried when I first took siblings. It was much easier than (anyone) thought, because they weren’t at home, they were here, and they were busy doing school stuff…”
These stills (from Empress of Everything: Messages from a Master Teacher) show children of different ages, each applying 100 stickers to a piece of paper. They do the same task, together yet differently.