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more able child paired with less able

(126 Posts)
hibbledobble Tue 14-Mar-17 23:38:03

I know this is something that happens frequently at school, and has done for a long time. How do people feel about it?

I don't know if it's fair to put children in a quasi - teaching role, rather than having them focus on their own learning. Otoh I know that teachers are stretched.

bojorojo Tue 14-Mar-17 23:47:06

It is one of the techniques used to extend the understanding of the brighter child. They explain things to the less bright child. It is highly effective when raising attainment of PP children for example and is highlighted by the Sutton Trust as being very worthwhile. The brighter child is becoming more secure in their own understanding and is not replacing a teacher. It is teacher guided. Ask your school for an explanation if you are concerned.

Swirlingasong Tue 14-Mar-17 23:50:04

I don't think it's done because teachers are stretched! When one child helps another with maths or whatever, both children are learning about far more than just the sums in question and those life skills really are invaluable. Also, explaining something to stone else can be an extremely good way of consolidating learning.

ChocolatePuma Tue 14-Mar-17 23:54:02

I remember a quote, something like, 'If you can't explain it simply then you don't understand it.'

Seems that if one child can explain it to another, they're far more likely to remember.

Cantseethewoods Tue 14-Mar-17 23:55:19

It can help ensure the brighter child actually understands the concepts rather than is just good at remembering the method ( like I was grin). I steamed ahead in primary maths due to being able to replicate the examples but didn't understand, for example, that three quarters is the same as saying three divided by four, or why turning a fraction over for multiplication vs division works. I therefore stalled in first year of secondary before I found my feet again and lost a lot of confidence. I think it has a place.

hibbledobble Wed 15-Mar-17 00:04:30

It's interesting to hear.

My concern is that the work being done together is very easy, and that the pairing is 'to slow her down'.

My view on this may be slightly tainted by my own school experience which involved me sitting down in year 7 and teaching another child to do basic addition using centicubes (eg 3+5). I found it incredibly boring.

GraceGrape Wed 15-Mar-17 00:09:03

It's done deliberately to enhance learning and it depends on the lesson and the activity. For example, sometimes when writing, I will do a paired writing activity. Rather than have all of the most able writers sat together, I pair them up with someone less able so that the less able pupil can learn from the processes the more able pupil uses to write and the more able pupil will have to explain the vocabulary, sentence structure etc. I pair the children quite carefully and wouldn't usually put my most able child with my least able etc.

This doesn't happen in every lesson. In some English lessons, for example, the children might be reading differentiated versions of the same text so I would group by reading ability. Likewise, in maths sometimes I will want my most able children to work on a complex problem solving activity together so they can challenge each other's thinking etc, other times, I might pair them with a child who hasn't understood fully so that they can explain to them, which deepens the understanding of both pupils.

hibbledobble Wed 15-Mar-17 00:21:53

That's interesting to hear grace. My personal experience has been of most able paired with least able, which I believe doesn't work.

Dd complains that the work set for her at school is 'very easy' and I agree having seen the work she does. She is very much ahead of the school work (she is doing workbooks 2 school years ahead at home at her own instigation ).

How would be a good way of approaching this with her teacher? She says she is bored by the work.

corythatwas Wed 15-Mar-17 00:24:00

If well and thoughtfully done it can be enormously beneficial for the more advanced child. I also did this sometimes at school, but my experience was clearly more positive than yours, OP: I still feel I benefit from skills I learnt then.

I was another bright child who grasped things quicker than I understood them- being made to slow down and actually have to explain how things worked as I knew instinctively that they did work was just what I needed.

I am currently teaching, for the first time, a subject I studied (and thought I was rather good at) 30 years ago: and for the first time I realise how little I understood of it.

Ginmummy1 Wed 15-Mar-17 08:24:34

Others have explained very well the benefits of pairing children of different abilities but, that aside, if your DD finds it all very easy and says she’s bored by the work, it’s definitely a good idea asking for a chat with the teacher.

It’s a tricky one to approach, but perhaps explain that your DD has been saying the work is easy/boring, and ask the teacher to clarify whether your DD is in fact not trying as hard as she might be – for example, not getting the main work done promptly and therefore not getting the chance to do the extension activities.

Basically, start by assuming the blame lies with your DD (even though this is doubtful), and then you won’t upset the teacher to start with. If the teacher is reassuring about your DD’s effort and behaviour, you can go on to ask whether it’d be possible for the teacher to provide her with some extension work to keep her challenged.

Ginmummy1 Wed 15-Mar-17 08:29:11

Also, how confident is your DD? Would she be able to ask the teacher for more work? There’s nothing like a child amply demonstrating throughout the day that she finds the work easy and finishes well before time and then asking for more/harder work, for making the teacher notice! Obviously, depending on her age, she may need to try to make this subtle if there’s a risk her peers might tease her or feel uncomfortable.

irvineoneohone Wed 15-Mar-17 08:48:41

I think it may be good for some children, but it doesn't suit everybody.
My ds is a intuitive learner, so sometimes his explanation to how to do things are totally confusing to me. So, doing this maybe a good practice for him, but I think it could be more confusing for less able children.
I don't think just because you are able, not everybody is a good explainer.
My ds has sometimes put on the less able children's table to help them, but he says he ends up doing the work for them. So, it's not really good outcome, for my ds' case.

Trifleorbust Wed 15-Mar-17 09:25:54

Definitely discuss it with the teacher. But do keep in mind that children don't always have the skill and knowledge to appreciate when they have/haven't 'mastered' something, so the teacher may challenge the view that the work is too easy.

I teach KS3 and it is a regular occurrence that a parent will call up to say the work isn't 'stretching' their child (who has gone home reporting that they are repeating things they learned in primary school). The parent is often surprised when I show them the work and explain that, although they may have covered the correct use of a semi-colon, their child is not in fact able to use one correctly or recognise correct usage, or they can do it in one context but cannot transfer it to another, or they use it accurately but inappropriately and need to work on their judgement of when to/not to use one to achieve a particular effect.

bojorojo Wed 15-Mar-17 12:37:47

I think you can have a useful discussion with the teacher about what work she can set to deepen understanding of the topics. Some teachers find this quite hard and are not as adventurous as they might be. It is not just about going through workbooks, it is using the skills and knowledge creatively to solve problems. This is consolidating understanding.

Vixnixtrix1981 Wed 15-Mar-17 12:59:41

My DS was put with a boy in his class who was struggling.
It worked wonders for both the kids, the boy who was struggling made brilliant progress. Mine did gain a better understanding, and I would certainly agree that it helped him academically, but I also think he learnt quite a lot about the type of person that he wanted to be (more empathetic etc) and the experience helped him develop skills (much more patience for a start) that will help him be that person.

Bloopbleep Wed 15-Mar-17 13:07:51

My daughter sits at a table with less able students and ends up spending her time telling people how to do things. As a result she fell behind because she wasn't getting enough time to do her own work. When we brought it to the attention of the teacher she said she thought it was confidence building for dd to help the others and that she could always go and sit at a table on her own if she wanted to get her own work done. Isolating a child isn't really a solution to the problem.

irvineoneohone Wed 15-Mar-17 13:21:47

If planned carefully, isolation with work at the right level for the child can be a good thing sometimes,imo.

ClarkWGriswold Wed 15-Mar-17 13:34:07

My daughter in Reception seems to have been paired with a little girl with SEN at school and I must say she loves it. She tells me about how she helps her with her lunch and made flash cards so that she knew which order to eat her lunch in, had the idea of putting together a 'helpful pack' for her (I have no idea what that was).

My daughter doesn't think anything of it and just says things like "X is my friend and she loves it when I help her with things" or "I was so happy for X today because she made a beautiful picture".

I have also seen them interact at all class parties and my DD will go over to her and take her by the hand to lead her to where the other children are sitting.

I'm not trying to say how wonderful my DD is, but merely how well they can interact with each other when they are so young and it takes the pressure off the teacher.

graciestocksfield Wed 15-Mar-17 13:36:29

It used to happen to me at school (in a class of 40, 1 teacher) and I think it held me back. I was so busy explaining things to other kids I lost most of the enjoyment and benefit of what I was doing.

silkpyjamasallday Wed 15-Mar-17 13:54:16

I was often put with children with SEN or behavioural issues as a primary school child, to help with their work etc. Mostly when I was in mixed year forms e.g. Years 3+4 together and years 5+6 together. I personally really enjoyed helping, I never really thought much of it, perhaps felt proud that I was deemed responsible enough! It is often done when there isn't the funding for a one on one TA for the child with SEN who really needs the extra support. Didn't slow me down at all, and I went on to work with children and teenagers with special needs in my first few proper jobs. On the other side though, I was given stickers by the teachers when I would spend my playtime playing with these children, which now makes me feel a little sad, I enjoyed playing with them, and the sticker 'incentive' wasn't needed. I think it helps to develop empathy which can only be a good thing, and as PP have said, explaining something to someone else is a valuable learning tool for the child in the 'teacher' role and helps cement the knowledge.

jamdonut Wed 15-Mar-17 17:07:03

If your child is doing workbooks "two years ahead", she is, presumably, always going to be ahead of the rest of her class, and ANY pairing up will involve someone of lesser ability. She's going to spend the next two years being 'bored' because she's already done the the work at home!
There's being stretched, and there's racing ahead...
Take her workbooks with you when you talk to her teacher, let her see what she's been doing, so she can see if she has a firm grasp of the work, and is working independently at the higher level. Then maybe she can plan appropriately for her.

I don't see why that should stop her being paired up with others, though, as this is often done in class, not necessarily very high with very low ability.

Hoppinggreen Wed 15-Mar-17 17:37:24

My DD used to get paired with the least able children in her class for joint projects.
She really hated it as she felt it prevented her from doing the work to her usual standard. She used to just end up doing all the work herself, which I doubt was the idea.
She also used to get paired with the badly behaved boys as she was a " calming mg influence " she hated that too.
It doesn't happe now she's at Secondary

Brolis Wed 15-Mar-17 21:03:04

Is it possible that it is not always as simple as one child being more able and the other less so? For example a child who is doing very well with their literacy but always hand writes their work could be paired with a child who, at first glance appears to be far less able, but is very confident using a computer. They could be helping and encouraging each other.

This would benefit both children greatly as the apparently more able child gets assistance with their computer skills and the other gets to experience being really good at a task in school.

jamdonut Thu 16-Mar-17 07:35:26

Exactly, Brolis!

junebirthdaygirl Thu 16-Mar-17 07:49:57

I was asked frequently at secondary school to explain a maths problem at the board for the whole class. I was in my element and very much part of why l decided to be a teacher. A career lve.enjoyed for over 30 years.
Some children love peer teaching but l wouldnt like it overused.

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