ABC and 123: A Learning Collaborative: Teaching with Ticia: Mentoring Older and Younger kids together

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Teaching with Ticia: Mentoring Older and Younger kids together

This is one of those unspoken things we all know, but may not have thought of why it's a good idea.

I know when I was teaching (10 years ago) this was all the rage, pairing up an upper elementary classroom with a primary grade level.  In homeschooling, it tends to happen naturally because if you have more than one kid, chances are they are not all the same age.

But how can you best take advantage of it?  And what are the advantages?

Advantages for the Older Kid
1.  Chance to be the teacher.  We all know it's true for us, you learn a subject better if you have to teach it or model it.  The same is true for kids.
2.  Chance to be a role model.  Who do young kids most look up to?  The kids about 3 or 4 years older than them (as long as it's not their brother or sister).  5th graders are immensely cool to a 1st grader.
3.  Chance to be a leader.  Some kids are not naturally gifted at leading and when working in groups with their peers they won't lead.  This is a prime chance for them to step forward and LEAD!

Advantages for the Younger Kid
1.  They get to see what it looks like to be bigger and know more.
2.  Having a mentor who is more approachable than their teacher is.
3.  Learning from multiple people.  The more sources of information and input a child has the more the information will stick in their head.

What can you do together?
1.  The most obvious one: read together.  Let the younger kid get a chance to practice one on one, and let the older kid get a chance to practice reading a harder book out loud or reading with style.
2.  Science experiments.  There are many wonderful science experiments that you can do, that you may not want to do with a bunch of 5 year olds.  But, if you add in a more experience 9 or 10 year old suddenly that experiment looks much more doable.  Also this gives the older kid a chance to strut their stuff and build up excitement.
3.  Group projects.  Let the younger kids provide illustrations and help with presenting while the older kid does the writing and helps with research.  We did this for a homeschool co-op and both sides learned more than they would have on their own.

Have you ever had a multi-age group together?  What were your favorite activities?  What benefits do you see?


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