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Smaller classes = healthier and smarter kids

classroom.jpgPicture your kids in their classrooms. How many kids are there in total? Can the teacher manage? Are the kids learning?

Some of these questions were answered by a recent study reported in the American Journal of Public Health in November this year. The researchers studied and followed 12,000 American children in kindergarten and primary schools since 1985. Some kids went to classes with 22 to 25 kids per classroom while other kids went to relatively smaller classes of 13 to 17 kids per classroom.

The effect of class size on the kids? intellectual development was very clear: a larger number of the kids who were in smaller classes performed much better and had better marks. They also easily qualified to go high-standard secondary schools.

In addition, the researchers actually showed that kids in smaller classes are relatively healthier than their peers in bigger groups. They estimated that 4 years of being in small class can actually prolong the life expectancy of a child by 2 years!

The researchers suggest that improving the school system by decreasing the number of children per class can actually save more money in terms of healthcare costs than public health interventions such as medications and immunizations.

Muennig & Woolf, November 2007. Health and Economic Benefits of Reducing the Number of Students per Classroom in US Primary Schools. American Journal of Public Health Vol 97:2020-2027.

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