Did you know research shows that smaller class sizes improve students’ academic performance and their engagement during class?
Students in small classes generally score better on standardized testing and tend to be one or two months ahead in content knowledge. They interact more with their teacher and behave better, meaning the teacher spends less time on discipline and more time on teaching. And the benefit of small class sizes is most powerful for elementary students, who continue to benefit from the experience throughout middle school and high school.
Even though the benefits of small class sizes are backed by research, some myths about smaller classes persist. Here are two such myths (and why they’re not true), as well as three benefits of enrolling your child in a school that has small class sizes.
Myth: My child won’t learn social skills if they don’t have a lot of classmates.
Learning how to get along with others is an important skill to learn, whether you have five classmates or 25. Learning to share, following the rules of good sportsmanship, and knowing how to communicate are not determined by the number of students in your child’s class. These social skills are developed by the interactions your child has with their classmates, no matter how many classmates are in your child’s class.
Besides, students in small classes aren’t limited to interacting with students in their own grade level. They develop friendships and play, learn, and worship with children from other classes. We also give students opportunities to improve their social skills and public speaking skills throughout the year.
For example, HLS students participate in the musical every spring. All of the children look forward to having speaking and singing parts in the musical. They enjoy the opportunity to practice speaking in public and collaborating with their peers from different grade levels.
HLS also hosts Hampton’s National Day of Prayer on the first Thursday in May. The children are responsible for presenting the program to the community. The fifth and sixth graders write and deliver the prayers, and all of the children sing or lead pledges. They learn to witness to their faith and grow comfortable with speaking to an audience.
Myth: Teachers spend less time preparing for smaller classes.
Small class sizes don’t necessarily mean less preparation time for the teacher. The teachers at HLS work hard to prepare for their classes, no matter how many students they have. Teachers work hard to give the students the best education available and personalize their lesson plans to help each child learn and grow in their own unique way.
Benefit: Your child gets more personal attention in smaller classes.
In a small class, your child gets more one-on-one time with their teacher. This means teachers can help kids who aren’t understanding a math problem and give high-achievers more challenging work or ideas to think about. No matter your child’s needs, teachers are able to devote more time to helping your child grow when class sizes are smaller.
It’s very hard—if not impossible—for our students to slip through the cracks given our classroom size. We’re also blessed to work closely with the public school’s speech-language program and their resource program if our students need additional resources. HLS students also participate in the public school band programs and, on occasion, the junior high sports programs. We make sure that students are fully supported and are able to pursue what matters to them.
Plus, HLS teachers have been blessed with wonderful classroom aides who work with the children however they’re needed.
Benefit: Your child is mentored by older kids and mentors the younger kids.
Small classes at Hampton Lutheran go right along with having two grades in each classroom. Having two grades in one room fosters independent workers, as well as peer teaching as the older students help the younger students.
At HLS, your child has more opportunities to be mentored by students in grades above them, and as your child grows, they get the same opportunity to work with younger kids. This valuable experience teaches your child how to learn from their peers and how to make friendships outside their class.
During the school year, students are divided into school families. The older children are proud to be the responsible “parents” for their groups, and younger children learn respect and accepted behavior from their older peers. It’s amazing to see the bonds grow between the children.
Benefit: Students have more opportunities for leadership.
Small class sizes mean your child gets more opportunities to lead and develop the leadership skills that will help them succeed in school and in their community.
Our older students are expected to take a leadership role in community activities. They participate in public speaking events involving church activities, Grandparents Day, and National Day of Prayer. During some of these events, the children are speaking in front of 150 to 200 guests. All of the children take leadership roles in school fundraisers such as Hearts for Jesus and the annual plant sale. They look forward to interacting and serving as hosts to the public who attend these events.
At HLS, your child also gets the opportunity to be a role model and leader for younger kids. When our students are divided into school families, the oldest members of the family act as leaders for the younger kids. Our older children take on a leadership role by helping younger members of the school family during school activities.