Recently I was asked a question. “How can teachers teach 25 children in a class when I am struggling at home to support one child’s learning?” There are many answers to this question.

Learning together

But the one I want to talk about today is a strategy that teachers use called “peer learning”. Peer learning is when students work collaboratively in groups to learn with and from each other. This is something that children are missing at the moment while doing their schoolwork at home, and one of the reasons they may be relying on you quite a bit to give them moral support and to bounce ideas off.

“Some benefits include, development of student collaboration and communication skills, enhancement of student confidence and the ability to take control of their own learning (Ramsden, 1992; Biggs, 2003). Students feel more comfortable working with their peers, so may interact and engage in reflection and explore ideas more deeply.”

Source Edith Cowan University.

Two heads are better than one

I have many examples in my own life of when two heads are better than one. Today I have started the process to put some of my own courses and learning programs online, so I can support my students while we are in isolation. As I opened up my slides for the first session, I realised how much work I will need to do to transfer my course to online learning.

For the first session I have only 4 slides, because much of the students’ learning is normally done through discussion, writing on the whiteboard and practical activities. I felt a little overwhelmed. How could I remember all that comes so easily to me when I teach face to face?

My 14 year old son was sitting next to me while I was doing my work, so I mentioned to him that I now know how his teachers feel putting their learning online.

I explained to him what I was feeling, and how we usually have discussions with my students  and write things on the whiteboard. Because I was feeling a little overwhelmed, I couldn’t see how to recreate this without a lot of work. My son asked me “did you take any photos?”

“YES!! I did!” I had totally forgotten. Something so obvious was being blocked by my brain as I couldn’t think clearly in the moment.

Having the photos means I can now structure the course following the work I do during my face to face time. I can see possibilities I hadn’t considered before, and I now know how I can structure my course to help my learners have a similar experience with their online learning.

I couldn’t have thought of this on my own, at least not without wasting a lot of time. By talking things through someone else helped me work out my problem, just by asking one simple question.

Applying this with our own children

We can do this with our own children. If they are stuck on a problem we can ask them questions to see if it prompts them to think of something they hadn’t thought of. Discussion may help them connect to previous learning or enable them to see a different perspective.

We all have different skills and experiences, and different views and knowledge we can contribute. Sometimes even just by talking things through out loud can help your child arrive at answer.

It may help them to remove a roadblock in their learning in exactly the same way as it did for me by discussing my problem with my son.

Have you had a similar experience? Let us know in the comments how it helped your child.


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