If you had asked me a year ago or even six months ago about venturing away from the bespoke 1-2-1 format of tutoring that I have been doing for many years into teaching groups, my answer was a straight NO!
I was sure that with my style of very bespoke lessons specifically for Neurodiverse children struggling with Maths, stepping over to having more than one child in the online lesson with me was never going to be satisfactory for either the child, parents or for that matter me.
Many other educators were singing the praises of adding group lessons to their services and therefore being in a position to be able to help so many more children each week. I wanted to do this myself, but the question was still, ‘but how will it work in my situation?’
Whilst I could see how it worked for them, none of these fellow tutors were just teaching Neurodiverse children like I do. Almost all of them teach older children, and much more standard lessons and content-led – all with a strict exam focus. Each time group lessons were mooted, I just couldn’t see a way that it would work for children like those I already teach.
How could I meet more than one child’s needs at the same time when a child-centred, not curriculum led and very holistic ethos is at the very centre of all I do? I still couldn’t quite think of a way…
In January, I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and volunteered to lead GCSE Foundation group lessons for children who were really struggling because of lockdown. This was within a cooperative of other independent tutors. I duly prepared copious resources, and whilst nervous and unsure that this was the right fit for me, I was ready and willing. Sadly not enough children signed up, and my particular sessions never took place in February.
But this got me thinking, and then the creative juices started to flow! I needed to think outside the box…Within a few days, I had come up with a format that would work for me and my practical, visual and fun way of teaching Neurodiverse children.
Rather than offering specific age grouped classes and teaching standard content, I would play to my strengths and theirs too!
What do Neurodiverse children often love and excel in?Art, creativity and science… Therefore the concept of offering small group lessons to children with similar learning differences but not necessarily exactly the same age was born. Topic-based lessons full of fun! Each session focusing on practical enrichment activities that inspire and encourage children to think, problem-solve and above all, understand the ‘hows? and whys?’
To realise that there is so much more to Maths than numbers and death by worksheet!
This week, all the planning and creating a safe space for children, who often feel different and don’t fit in socially, has finally come to fruition.
The first cohort started on Tuesday, and it went down a storm!
He was beaming about his class lesson, and he was so happy to meet other learners the same as him.
I have read some posts recently about saying ‘finding your tribe’ is cultural appropriation. I, however, have struggled to think of a replacement phrase that comes anywhere near to expressing the sheer joy of finding your tribe and finally feeling part of a group and not an outsider. It has taken me until this last year and middle age to find others I fit with. Words like group, troupe, gang, pack and bunch for me don’t quite hit the mark, so for the time being, I will continue to think of my pupils finding their tribe and being empowered by doing so.
The next cohort is due to start their lessons on Friday 7th May at 11:00 and will be just for home educated children.
There is also a dedicated Facebook group for Parents of Neurodiverse Children, which anyone can join, regardless of them being existing clients who are already paying for 1-2-1 lessons, group lessons or other services from me.