A parent first approached me about teaching her child in a group with two peers. It had never occurred to me to teach groups of children privately before as I had only taught individual children in their homes. We were all really excited by how well it went in terms of enjoyment, motivation and progress. I have since trialled other pairings and group work with equal success since my initial trial. Apart from being more beneficial to the children, it is of course, also more cost effective for parents.
Reflecting on this experience alongside my four years experience of teaching groups as an intervention teacher in schools, and am now convinced of the value of quality small-group teaching, where children learn collaboratively at a similar level. The deepest level of understanding occurs when one is able to explain how to do something, to someone else.
Additionally, small groups provide a setting where children gain confidence in a mini- classroom environment. This facilitates them to articulate themselves, demonstrate understanding, make mistakes, and witness others making mistakes as part of their learning. These crucial experiences help them to build confidence.
To be a life-long learner, children need to perceive mistakes as part of the learning process and embrace and feel comfortable with new challenges. Too often young children’s identities are tied up with ‘getting it right’ and ‘knowing the answer’, rather than valuing understanding; the underpinning knowledge; the process of learning how to get it right; connections between concepts; different ways of reaching an answer and an appreciation that learning often comes from misconceptions and mistakes.
I am very interested in the ‘Growth Mindset’ approach to learning and encourage this philosophy of learning in my teaching. (You can find a Ted Talk by Carol Dweck on Growth Mindset on my video page).
Aside from the benefits stated above, children tend to thrive and enjoy peer group learning more.