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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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