“Mum, time’s up”; the importance of allowing your child to teach you.
The image of a parent sitting by the side of their child, guiding them along as they do homework or revision, is a common one. You have experienced sitting down with your child to do homework at least once. Most parents will likely have had the opportunity to explain a simple concept to their child as the child listened on, enraptured. But how many of you do the opposite and cede the role of tutor to the child? In other words, how many parents ask their child to teach them, instead?
The notion may seem ridiculous at first. However, the objective of this suggestion – of having your children teach you – is not for parents to have the chance to learn what is taught in schools; it is to provide the child with an opportunity to teach someone else the content which they learn in school.
Teaching others is one of the most effective forms of revision due to a number of reasons.
1) It allows your child to assess their level of understanding
By going over the content with another person, the student can review and reflect on their level of conceptual knowledge, gaining an awareness of where their content knowledge is lacking.
2) It aids in processing and organising content knowledge
Students can attain a clearer and deeper understanding of the content by mentally organising their knowledge in a manner suitable for teaching. Your child will also gain a stronger understanding of the key points of content within their syllabus. After all, it is not easy to explain something which we do not understand.
3) It helps the child develop logical processes
Your child can form stronger links to logical reasoning as they evaluate and synthesise their knowledge to answer the question the other party pose. This grants them an intimate familiarity with the interconnectivity between different concepts.
4) It sets the foundation for independent learning
Allowing your child to take the role of teacher weans them off a dependency on a teacher figure, empowering them to study independently and take more ownership of their learning. By doing so, the groundwork is laid for later stages of education, where teachers take somewhat more of a hands-off approach, encouraging self-directed learning.
Therefore, allowing your child to teach you is a highly effective way to revise and review their knowledge.
The question, then, is how to go about doing this? Any parent that asks their child to teach them, instead of the other way round, is likely to be greeted with incredulity and hesitation. Seeing you – the adult, the person which up to that point seemed like a fount of knowledge – asking to learn from them, might cause the child to feel confused and uncertain.
The solution lies in subtlety. Do not state your intention to have your child act as the teacher, but instead subtly restructure your study sessions. For example, most of you use an instructional form of teaching when helping their children revise. Some act as the advisors, answering their child’s questions. One possibility is to adjust this dynamic. Instead of waiting for your child to ask questions, take the initiative and ask questions. If the child looks like they are struggling with a question, rather than tell them how it should be done, ask them a series of guiding questions, such as “How can the previous topic help us to understand this one?” Nudge and guide them to follow the thought process necessary to answer the question.
In conclusion, allowing the student to become the teacher can be an excellent way for a child to revise and learn. It brings about a number of highly beneficial outcomes, which not only have a positive impact on the child’s short-term learning, but also set the foundations for a long-term habit of independent study.
So, the next time you sit down with your child to revise, try asking the questions instead of answering them. It might prove a welcome change of pace for both yourself and your child, and you might both learn something new.