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Smaller Class Sizes Has Multiple Benefits on Learning

Smaller Class Sizes Has Multiple Benefits on Learning

With schools growing considerably in size and many smaller educational establishments closing their doors, could growing class sizes be affecting children’s learning? Maybe. Research has found that small classes with fewer than 20 students are beneficial to children, particularly in primary grades.

There are several advantages for small class sizes for children and here are a few of the most important ones, in our opinion:

More One-to-One Attention

With a class size of more than 30 children, it can be hard for teachers to provide one-to-one time to each child even if they have a teaching assistant. In smaller classes, the teacher’s time isn’t spread so thin and they can spend more one-to-one time with individual students.

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This individual attention can be highly beneficial and have a positive influence on children’s personal achievements and test scores. According to the 1980s Student Teacher Achievement Ration (STAR) study, when a class is reduced by 7 students (or 32% in this particular case) student achievement is increased by the equivalent of an additional 3 months of schooling.

These findings were particularly strong in classes of young children or those from less advantaged family backgrounds.

Students Get an Increased Opportunity to Bond

With smaller class sizes, children spend more time together in a close group, meaning they build strong friendships rather than simply gain acquaintances. With more time spent together, these friendships are more likely to stand the test of time.

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A Chance to Tailor Individual Learning

Not everyone learns the same way. Some people learn best through listening, whereas others may be visual or even kinesthetic, hands-on, learners. Smaller classes can work to the children’s benefit, as the teacher will have more free time to specifically design a lesson plan that plays to specific students’ strengths and will be most effective for individual needs.

No one will get left behind in a smaller class since it is easier for the teacher to cater to both sides of the bell curve.

Less Disruption

Let’s face it, no matter how good the teacher is, when there are 30 plus students in a room there is going to be noise and disruption. Concentration can easily be broken, meaning children’s learning is interrupted on a daily basis, but with smaller class sizes this is less likely. Discipline is less likely to be a problem and the class is likely to be much quieter, aiding concentration.

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More Time Actually Learning

A 2014 study by the Organisation for Economic Development and Cooperation (OECD) found that teachers in England spend just 20 hours a week in the classroom. The rest of their time is spent on administrative tasks, lesson preparation, and marking.

Some teachers even spend up to 20% of their classroom time doing further administration, meaning just 16 of the 48 hours teachers spend in the classroom per week are spent on teaching pupils.

The more students in a class, the more time basic administration and everyday tasks take. Taking the register, marking work, reading lessons – it all takes much longer. Small classes speed this up and children are more likely to receive thoughtful and encouraging comments on their work.

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Could Private Tutoring Help?

Sometimes large classes are unavoidable, so to ensure your children get the much-needed one-to-one education they require, why not invest in private tutoring?

Available by the hour, with tutors who specialize in particular subjects, your child could get extra lessons outside of school to help bring up grades or encourage them to excel even more than they already do.

Some of the benefits of tutoring include:

  • Learning at one’s own pace
  • Flexible and convenient lessons
  • Increasing motivation to learn in all subjects
  • Improving self-esteem and confidence
  • Encouraging self-learning
  • Improving grades

Featured photo credit: All images are creative commons public domain and are free to use. via creativecommons.org

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Published on November 7, 2018

How to Homeschool in the 21st Century (For All Types of Parents & Kids)

How to Homeschool in the 21st Century (For All Types of Parents & Kids)

In 2016, it was estimated that 1.7 million children were being homeschooled in the U.S, roughly 3.3% of all school-aged children.[1] Although this may not sound like a big portion of the population, the growth rate of homeschooling has been 7 to15% per year for the last two decades.

The burgeoning numbers are not a coincidence. There are tremendous benefits to homeschooling, including one-on-one teaching, adaptability to individual needs and learning styles, a safe learning environment, encouraging learning for knowledge rather than grades, and tailoring a curriculum to the child’s interests.

Is homeschooling something that you have been considering for your family? With all of the tools and resources available for homeschoolers in the 21st century, it may be easier than you think.

How to Homeschool (Getting Started)

After thinking it through, you’ve decided that homeschooling is the right step for you and your family. Now what? Here are the first things you should do to get your homeschooling journey started on the right track.

Figure Out the Laws

Homeschooling is regulated by the state, not the federal government. The first step is to find the current and accurate legal requirements mandated by your state in order to educate your child legally.[2]

The regulations can vary widely, from strict guidelines to no guidelines at all. However, don’t be overwhelmed by the legal jargon. There are many resources and local communities for homeschooling families that can help you figure out the logistics.

Decide on an Approach

Every child’s needs are different. This is your chance to choose the homeschooling style or combination of styles that best fits your child’s learning style and interests. A brief description of seven different homeschooling methods are listed below.

Supplies/Resources

Often times, purchasing a homeschooling curriculum is done too early in the planning process, resulting in buyer’s remorse.

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A curriculum is not always needed for homeschooling, and other types of free or less structured resources are readily available.

Find a Community

Getting connected with a community of homeschoolers is one of the most important parts of building a successful and thriving homeschool environment for your kids.

Look for communities online for virtual support or a local group that you and your kids can interact with. Partnering with others fosters better socialization skills for the students and provides opportunities for field trips, classes, and outings that wouldn’t have otherwise been a part of the homeschooling experience.

7 Different Homeschooling Methods

1. School-At-Home

Also known as Traditional homeschool, School-At-Home uses essentially the same curriculum as the local private or public school but at home.

The lessons can be completed independently, but more commonly, they are administered by a parent or a teacher-facilitated online school.

  • Benefits: formal standards, wide selection of curricula, same pace as peers, short-term friendly
  • Drawbacks: expensive, inflexible, time consuming, parent can get easily burnt out
  • Resources: K12, Time4Learning, Abeka

2. Classical

One of the most popular homeschooling methods used, it borrows educational practices from Ancient Greece and Rome. Subject areas are studied chronologically so that students can understand the consequence of ideas over time.

Socratic dialogue fosters effective discussions and debate to achieve beyond mere comprehension. There is often a strong emphasis on Great Books[3] as well as Greek and Latin.

3. Unit Studies

Rather than breaking up education into subjects, unit studies approach each topic as a whole, studying it from the perspective of each subject area.

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For example, a unit study about animals could include reading books about animals, learning about the classification of animals, figuring out which animals live on which continents, etc. This method is often used as a technique in other more comprehensive educational methodologies.

  • Benefits: promotes thinking about concepts as a whole, not monotonous or redundant, student-directed, bolsters weaker subject areas, beneficial for teaching multi-age students
  • Drawbacks: incomplete, knowledge gaps, curriculum-dependent
  • Resources: Unit Study, Unit Studies, Unit Studies Made Easy, Konos

4. Charlotte Mason

This Christian homeschooling style utilizes shorts periods of study (15-20 minute max for elementary, 45 minute max for high school), along with nature walks and history portfolios.

Students are encouraged to practice observation, memorization, and narration often. With a focus on “living books” (stories with heroes, life lessons, socio-ethical implications), reading plays a big role in this student-paced teaching style.

5. Montessori

Maria Montessori developed this method through working with special needs children in the early 20th century.

With a primary focus on the student setting the pace and indirect instruction from the teacher, this approach includes free movement, large unstructured time blocks (up to 3 hours), multi-grade classes, and individualized learning plans based on interests.

6. Unschooling

Unschooling is a learning model largely based on the work of John Holt.[4] The teaching style focuses mainly on the students’ interests, putting priority on experiential, activity-based, and learn as you go approaches.

For basic skills such as reading, writing, and math, a systematic technique is employed, but testing and evaluations are typically not utilized. Teachers, in general, play more of a facilitator role.

7. Eclectic/Relaxed

As the most popular method of homeschool, eclectic homeschooling is child-directed, resourceful, and non-curriculum based.

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Parents can sample any combination of homeschooling methods and styles or resources. One growing sector of eclectic homeschooling combines part homeschooling with part traditional schooling.

How to Facilitate Homeschooling with Technology

One of the reasons homeschooling is more feasible than ever before is due to the accessibility of tools and resources to enhance the learning process.

Email

Email is a tool that has really stood the test of time. Invented in 1972, it is still used today as a primary means of communicating on the Internet.

It is a great way to share assignments, links, and videos between parent and student.

Google Drive/Calendar

Google Drive offers a multitude of essential programs that can come in handy for homeschoolers, such as Docs, Sheets, Slides, and more.

With its sharing capabilities, easy accessibility, and auto-save ability, it’s easier than ever to organize and complete assignments. It will improve students’ writing and typing skills, as well as eliminate the need for paper.

Google Calendar is an excellent tool for tracking assignment due dates, planning field trips and activities, and developing time management skills.

Ebooks

Rather than invest in physical copies of books, ebooks are a wonderful option for saving money and space. There are plenty of places that offer a free or paid subscription to a wide selection of ebooks:

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E-Courses

When a structured curriculum is necessary for teaching a certain topic, an e-course is the way to go.

From watercolors to calculus, there are e-courses available about almost everything. Including different teaching styles that vary from the parents will encourage students to learn in different ways.

The visual and auditory stimulation will also be beneficial in helping students understand and retain the concepts being taught.

Some recommendations:

Youtube

Youtube is not just a platform for music videos and cats doing funny things. There are a number of Youtube channels that produce quality educational videos, free of charge.

Creating a playlist of videos for various topics is a great way to supplement a homeschool education.

Some recommendations:

Final Thoughts

Homeschooling in the current age looks much different than it did ten years ago. There are more options and more flexibility when it comes to educating kids at home.

Don’t be overwhelmed by the idea of homeschooling your children if it could make a positive impact on your family.

Featured photo credit: Hal Gatewood via unsplash.com

Reference

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