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PS1 Pluralistic School One



Children learn to feel empowered, safe, and connected in our small school setting, not only within their classrooms, but also as part of a grouping of multi-age classrooms that we call Clusters. We have four Clusters [three Youngers classes (K-1), two Bridge classes (1-2 and 2-3), two Middles classes (3-4), and two Olders (5-6)]. There is a shared retreat space between every two classrooms – students on either side of the retreat are the same basic grade equivalents.

Interacting with groups large and small allows each student to know every teacher and every other student in the school. With this level of support, PS1 students become self-assured individuals and confident learners.

Multi-Age Grouping

We have a two grade equivalent range in all of our classes – (K-1, 1-2, 2-3, 3-4 and so on through Sixth grade) – changing a child’s peer group from year to year. In this way, each child has opportunities to be both an older and a younger student within the class at different times through his or her school experience. This structure fosters connection, a lifelong skill, and helps students thrive in many different kinds of environments. Parents year after year, and now generation after generation, come back and tell us that a two year age range was the most important piece that made their children the well-rounded, well-spoken, confident, comfortable, agile people they have become.

Click to watch our video, highlighting our multi-age classrooms and the Cluster system at PS1. See an example of how identical twins moved through the Clusters during their seven-year journey.

Class Placement

In most schools, children are tracked and class placement is automatic. That translates into moving with your same group en masse every year to the next level, for example from first grade to second. The effect of such tracking is to freeze a child into the same placement within her group every year. If you begin your school experience as an older in your grade, then you are always an older; or, conversely, once a younger, always a younger.

When children are grouped developmentally, as they are at PS1, a child can experience being a younger student in his class one year and an older student the next. There is a two-year age range in each of our nine multi-age classes. A child's self-esteem is often affected by his perceived placement within his group. There are benefits to being both an older and a younger; we work to make sure that every PS1 child will experience both at some time during their tenure at our school.

Class placement is determined by the administration after receiving recommendations from classroom teachers and from parents.No child is held back at PS1. And yet, every child will spend two years in the same cluster several times during her school experience. We assess all aspects of a child's development - academic, social, emotional, physical, artistic, personal, and interpersonal - in forging each year's class groupings. We seek to be responsive to the unique timing, learning style, and differences in the social, emotional, and cognitive development of each child. Out of our system, over a seven-year period, comes a whole child – competent, confident, and connected.