There are several ways to teach kids – in person, online, at home, at school, one subject, many subjects, you name it. One dilemma that teachers and classroom organizers face is knowing what’s the best environment for teaching kids. Moreover, teachers are challenged to know what is the best group size for teaching kids (if any at all.) There is a big difference in the process for teaching one-on-one vs group classes. There is also, therefore, a big difference in the way a child will learn depending on if they learn individually or in the company of others. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the major differences between teaching a group or an individual, and the ideal class size for teaching/learning.
Major Differences Between Group Classes and Individual Learning
If you’re thinking to become a teacher, or have little experience in varied class-size settings, it may benefit you to know the difference between teaching ‘many’ and ‘only a few.’
The most obvious trait about this way of teaching/learning is the personal attention that goes into the process. The teacher can measure the needs of the individual student to a great degree of accuracy. That way, the teacher can tailor lessons to perfection. Also, in one-on-one learning, teachers can build a strong bond of trust between themselves and the student. This, in turn, can encourage both parties to do their absolute best for the sake of the other. This will usually lead to maximum results.
What’s not so beneficial about one-to-one learning is the price; it costs a lot more to put a child through a subject, let alone all of school, with their very own teacher. Plus, students would lack the support and inspiration from other kids which they’d gain in a group setting. The social aspect of learning plays a huge role in personal development, especially in early childhood.
Group classes can mean quite a few different things depending on how large or small the group is. Let’s start by analyzing large groups:
In traditional classroom settings, the children can number anywhere between 20-40 students, sometimes even more. This kind of teaching has found its efficacy in that it can get vast amounts of helpful information to the largest number of kids possible. It may also encourage kids to be more independent, intrinsically emphasizing that the teacher exists merely as a guide for the self-striving child. Not to mention, these classes offer the opinions of many voices, who approach problems and problem-solving in various ways. Lastly, it’s the cheapest form of learning.
Now, for the cons: One of the biggest problems of big classes is that they lack individual attention. Teachers treat everyone the same and require everyone to complete the same exercises. This comes at the cost of children who may learn poorly under such conditions or who get easily left behind when a subject confuses them. Also, students are more easily distracted in big classes. Three professors at the University of London conducted a study that found that students of larger classrooms were less engaged. This may cause students to withdraw from their learning experience and into a cycle of failure.
Next, we’ll look at small groups: Small-group learning is actually the sweet middle ground that most teachers and students prefer. Even the optimal group size for decision-making in adults is about 5 people! Anywhere between 3-6 kids per group offer both collectivism within that group, plus the opportunity for individual attention to be given to every child. Not to mention, the costs of educating a group of this size are much more reasonable.
Tips for Teaching Small Groups
- Remember, those within the group should be of the same level, so that there is no intellectual separation amongst the group
- Assign different roles within the group. For example, give each child an opportunity to lead the group at some point so that their peers may learn from them.
- Direct and initiate the activity, and then allow kids to work on their own. You can use this time to take notes and make observations!
- Modify your group activities to keep kids on their toes and hopefully encouraging one another!