Winter Break is a wonderful thing! It was such a treat to sleep until 8:30 am again this morning. I am going to talk about class size today. Does the size of a class make a difference? From my experience, I would echo a resounding yes!

The year I retired from teaching kindergarten in the public schools, I had twenty-one students in my classroom with one teacher assistant. The first year I taught kindergarten, I had thirty-two students and one teacher assistant. I currently teach kindergarten in the private school where I have been employed since leaving the public schools. I have had sixteen students and one teacher assistant every year for the past three years. 

The smaller class size gives me many more opportunities for one on one instruction with my students. Couple this with the fact that my assistant is never pulled for extra duty, to substitute in another classroom, or to help in another grade level. That means we ALWAYS have a 1:8 ratio.  Reduced class size is also important since my teaching methods emphasize hands-on and individualized learning, rather than rote memorization. Another advantage is that I am able to provide more support to students who need extra help. 

I feel very thankful to be teaching in a school where administrators realize that class size makes a difference! It makes going to work a joy everyday.

34 comments

  1. My Lipstick Life // March 2, 2010 at 8:32 PM  

    I too have 16 in my pre-k class with an assistant. It is a wonderful number. Everyone gets the personal attention they need and deserve.

  2. Jessica TenBrink // March 2, 2010 at 9:18 PM  

    Enjoy your break! My daughter is in third grade and she has a teacher with a full time aid and 26 in her class. They have good discipline and order in the classroom. It's a charter school. 1:8 is a fabulous ratio!

  3. Lisa // March 2, 2010 at 9:26 PM  

    Hi, hope your having a wonderful day.
    We are fortunate enough to live in a very small community. There are actually only 24 residents in our little town and my boys go to a very small school about 35 miles away. Smaller schools and classrooms have definitely given my children an overall better educational experience. The teachers are able to spend more time with their students and establish a better relationship with each student through out the school year.

    Lisa :)
    http://awiistory.blogspot.com

  4. Heather // March 2, 2010 at 9:53 PM  

    Our public schools don't have that great of a ratio, but so far my kids have done great. We are blessed with a great staff of teachers and principals who are very focused on our kids.

    Your students are lucky to have such a great teacher!

  5. VKT // March 2, 2010 at 10:27 PM  

    It is great isn't it Lipstick!

  6. VKT // March 2, 2010 at 10:28 PM  

    I am truly blessed Jessica!

  7. VKT // March 2, 2010 at 10:29 PM  

    Wow Lisa! That is terrific. I think sometimes school systems merge to the point that they get too big. I am glad your boys have had such a wonderful experience!

  8. VKT // March 2, 2010 at 10:30 PM  

    Heather,

    A caring faculty makes all the difference. I am so glad your children are in that situation!

    Blessings!

  9. Hautemama // March 2, 2010 at 10:59 PM  

    Class size makes a HUGE difference, hence the reason we live in a small town. Our biggest classes are 22 or 23. I hope it stays that way. My sons went to a private school for a couple of years and they learned so much! It was such a blessing!

  10. VKT // March 2, 2010 at 11:04 PM  

    Hautemama,

    It sounds like they are still in a good place. Thanks for your post.

    Blessings!

  11. Beth Chapman // March 2, 2010 at 11:07 PM  

    It was hard, being educated in the deep south, where our class sizes-including Kindergarten-were at least 30+ students. I cannot imagine how any teacher competes with all the stimuli that kids have today much less compete with large classes. So much energy you pour into your students, how can that be done in a large class? They are not just an overload of emails that you can ignore, paper you can shred or "to do's" that you can put off. Sorry, ranting a bit, but yours, and so many other teachers are often asked to do the impossible, and you succeed. Imagine what you could do given the chance you have now?

  12. Healing Morning // March 2, 2010 at 11:44 PM  

    I don't have kids yet, but do have two young nephews. One is in first grade and the other is in kindergarten. I think what you and all educators do daily is such a noble task, and I recognize the daily frustations that low school funding and teacher overload must present. It warms my heart to know there are still educators like you out there who truly love their profession. Unfortunately, there are often those who gravitate to the teaching path to have free license to unload resentments on innocent children. It makes me smile to feel your genuine loving spirit shining through. I am positive your students benefit in untold ways from your love of what you do.

    ~ Dawn

  13. Love 'n Light // March 3, 2010 at 1:21 AM  

    Hi VKT, thank you for visiting my blog!

    Yes, I think class size does matter!

    A few years ago (when my son was in grade 1) I used to go in to help with the reading as his teacher had 25 students.

    There was one little girl who had reading difficulties so I agreed to spend all my time helping her and let the teacher handle the rest.

    I would take the girl outside, sit under a tree (away from distractions) and the first thing I did, was ask personal questions ie., 'what time do you go to bed?' etc.
    To cut to the chase, it turned out that she didn't get enough sleep therefore was easily distracted in class.
    After only two lessons with her (one on one) outside away from distractions, she was reading almost as good as the others.
    My point? The teacher said he could not have done that because he had too many students.

    This child could have slipped through the system!

    LL Nat :~)

  14. jenny // March 3, 2010 at 2:11 AM  

    I agree, class size makes an enormous difference. Classes in the first year of school where we live in Australia are recommended not to have more than 22 kids but I even think thats too many.

    Preschools have a 1:10 ratio, but we have 1:8 which makes it easier to give more individual attention.

  15. Bernie // March 3, 2010 at 3:29 AM  

    So many of my family members are teachers and all agree that class size makes a huge difference, one of my nieces has her retired father go to her classroom every day to help her, the students call him Grampa Ray and he has made a huge difference to her. She has 33 5 year olds who all need help with their snow suits and boots, she is on her own without her dad helping out. Our teachers deserve help to provide our children with the tools to thrive in today's world.
    Enjoy your break my dear friend,
    ......:-) Hugs

  16. Theresa Milstein // March 3, 2010 at 6:11 AM  

    Cambridge is a big believer in small teacher-to-student ratios. In kindergarten, it's 20 students with one teacher and one full-time aide. For first grade through eighth-grade, it can be up to 25 students. There's a f-t or p-t aide up to a certain grade, depending on how the principal allocates the money.

    Even if fifth, as a part-time aide, when we had a low number that year, it was much easier to get work done and give extra attention to students than when we were near maximum.

    My kindergarten days in a NYC public school - no aide and over 30 kids. I don't know how that teacher did it.

  17. Midday Escapades // March 3, 2010 at 8:13 AM  

    As a parent, I can see the truth in smaller class sizes. Unfortunately, those only exist in the private schools. So glad you got to experience it.

  18. Choices // March 3, 2010 at 8:47 AM  

    I know exactly what you mean about class size. I used to be a first grade teacher at a charter school and the most you could have in the class was 20 children. Sometimes we even had 18. It was such a wonderful teaching environment because with all the hands on materials in all subjects the children were able to learn better and as a teacher you were able to work more pairs, individual students, and groups more effciently. We didn't have an assistant, but with the nature of the curriculum it just seemed to work without one. In my state there is a law that the class size cannot be bigger than 20. As a substitue teacher going into the public schools even with the small class size, there is such a different environment when compared to a private or charter school. I prefer like you to be teaching in a smaller environment.
    Enjoy your break.

  19. VKT // March 3, 2010 at 9:04 AM  

    Beth,

    Rant away! There are many public school teachers out there who are right there with you.

    I am not only imagining now for with 16 students; I am able to do so much with my class. It is wonderful!!!!

  20. VKT // March 3, 2010 at 9:06 AM  

    Dawn,

    I know many teachers in the public school system like me who love working with children but are getting burned out by all the bureaucracy. It is really sad!

  21. VKT // March 3, 2010 at 9:09 AM  

    Nat,

    Parents like you really make a difference! On behalf of that sweet child, I thank you. I really appreciate the parent volunteers I have this year.

    I have an amazing room mom this year. She is like wonder woman! She helps me with field trips, tutoring, scheduling volunteers, you name it. I don't know what I would do without her.


    Blessings!

  22. VKT // March 3, 2010 at 9:11 AM  

    Jenny,

    Having actually experienced 22 versus 16, it is no contest. The smaller the class, the more individual attention you can provide! Thanks for commenting!

  23. VKT // March 3, 2010 at 9:13 AM  

    Bernie aka my sunbeam blogging friend,

    Your niece has her hands full. She has more students than I did with my first class of 32 AND an assistant. I don't know how she does it. Thank goodness for Grampa Ray is all I can say!

  24. VKT // March 3, 2010 at 9:16 AM  

    Theresa,

    It sounds like Cambridge is on the right track in terms of what works best for children. That is commendable.

    The largest class size in my lower school which goes through grade four is 18. We are very grateful for the smaller class sizes.

  25. VKT // March 3, 2010 at 9:20 AM  

    Midday,

    Its a shame more parents don't have the choice of private schools if they wanted it. Many parents at my school are there not only for class size but because they want their child to be able to worship freely. I could never have devotions with my students or pray with them before lunch.
    I can now!

  26. VKT // March 3, 2010 at 9:21 AM  

    Thanks Choices! And thanks for taking the time to comment. I appreciate it!!

  27. Acting Balanced Mom // March 3, 2010 at 9:56 AM  

    My son is in a 1:4 ratio (8 kids, 1 teacher, 1 EA) partially integrated classroom as a 3 year old with autism and I can tell you that it was the best decision we made. The school board wanted to put him into a 1:8 ratio child development class with 16 kids and we decided against it for now... and it was a great decision on our part - Liam gets one on one attention with either the teacher or the EA EVERY DAY and usually multiple times a day! That's not an opportunity he would have had in a larger classroom...
    Thanks for stopping by my blog today!

  28. VKT // March 3, 2010 at 10:08 AM  

    Good for you for finding what's best for Liam!

  29. ellen // March 3, 2010 at 11:40 AM  

    I think it is great, to have small classrooms. In the Netherlands, where I come from, the classes are 33 students in one classroom. You do not have many private schools there. Discipline and level of education are pretty high there.

    have a great day!

    Ellen
    www.elleninamerika.com

  30. VKT // March 3, 2010 at 11:48 AM  

    Wow Ellen! I would love to learn more about the education system in the Netherlands. Thanks for sharing my blogging friend!

  31. Ginger Snaps // March 3, 2010 at 4:11 PM  

    Um, absolutely! I have 15 students in my third grade class, and sometimes that's too many!

  32. VKT // March 3, 2010 at 4:31 PM  

    Wow Ginger! That is terrific!

  33. Debbie // March 3, 2010 at 5:11 PM  

    Kindergarten is a tough year! I have always respected those teachers!~ The marble story is too funny, not really but it is! Following you from the friday hop hope to see you!

  34. VKT // March 3, 2010 at 5:23 PM  

    It is pretty funny Debbie! Even funnier that the Mom thought I would actually do it....ack!