Empowering Students through Peer Tutoring

Communication is the key to success! How many times as adults have we heard that particular credo? Today, the presentations we knew as students have been modified to suit what is required in the outside world. As a result, students are learning how to lead, communicate information and offer encouragement through peer tutoring. You may be wondering why children are teaching one another? Long ago, you were chosen for the task of line leader. Do you remember how you felt? Important, yes! And, responsible for everyone standing in your line. In presenting the steps of a math problem to the class, you learned how to speak publically, and, possibly, the experience increased your confidence level. Students who engage in peer tutoring activities also feel connected to leadership, and value team-based relationships. While no activity is 100 percent effective, peer tutoring is a learning strategy being used in our schools nowadays.  

Cross-Age Tutoring

Albert Einstein said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” For older elementary, or middle or high school students, teaching younger children in small groups becomes a skill. Students need to convey material in small steps, and adapt when information is misunderstood. Cross-age tutoring occurs with two or three students paired with one tutor. While this method is challenging to schedule, the partnership between older and younger students is beneficial to both.

Reciprocal Peer Tutoring

Mathematics has always been an independently learned subject. Students listen to lessons, take notes, and practice through paper-and-pencil problem-solving. How often do students have the chance to ask questions, affirm understanding, or complete nightly homework without worry? Reciprocal Peer Tutoring is one of the most widely used formats to help students boost confidence.

In addition to math, RPT can be applied to reading or social studies lessons. Every student has the opportunity to act in the role of tutor. RPT involves placing low- and high-performing students together in either pairs or trios. Students are able to teach, monitor, evaluate and encourage each other. Each time students engage in peer tutoring, they learn to work together and overcome any problems that may arise. In addition, students are recognizing mistakes and helping peers improve as learners.

A teacher often has little time to provide constructive criticism or help a group in need. Her role is to circulate throughout the room, briefly visiting groups and recording student progress. Just as when taking a quiz, written feedback coupled with a class discussion is scheduled for the next day.

All of us can remember sitting with a classmate in an elementary classroom and taking turns reading out loud. Personally, I still can recall the book Lyle, Lyle Crocodile by Bernard Waber. Today’s children have increased responsibility as students. They are learning to listen to their peers, recognize mistakes, offer or discuss corrections and take turns becoming the tutor. Peer tutoring is helping children in elementary, middle and high school learn important lessons about reading, social studies and math that inspire confidence, aid communication skills, promote understanding of difficult concepts and, best of all, accustom students to tutoring or learning from a peer.


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