I remember when I was in elementary school, we had this program where fifth graders mentored second graders. It was a very big deal for both groups. Sadly, by the time I reached fifth grade, the program was stopped. It would be another four years before I found myself in the position of mentoring younger students as the middle schools in my combined middle-high school would start seeking me out for tutoring and advice.
I’ve long held that peer tutoring is one of the best teaching methods around. Sometimes, we as adults are just not able to get back to our kid roots and present material on their level. It’s nice when someone they can relate to turns around and helps fill in the gaps we struggle to fill.
One of the reasons I love my current job is because there is so much accidental peer learning going on. It doesn’t matter what level the kids are, they love to help each other understand, to share what they know. It’s so heart-warming to watch.
Some of my favorite moments, though, come when a high school student ends up sitting with a five or six year old. I’ve watched an enrichment student help a low-level math student through the tricky ways is counting money. (In his free time, this particular student teaches his five year old brother math at home, and dreams of one day being teacher.) Just the other day, I watched a life skills student help a new beginning reading student figure out how to shop at the little store we have in the center. (It was absolutely adorable to watch, and I never realized how tall that particular student was until he stood beside this tiny, tiny five-year-old girl, but she loved the attention, and he was having a great time helping her shop.)
I always try to have a little peer teaching going on in my own teaching. I think it adds so much to the learning experience for all of us!