Teaching is a difficult task. Every child has their own strengths and weaknesses and keeping children entertained and intellectually stimulated can be hard work. There are a few effective teaching strategies that work for most children, however, and if you employ a selection of these in your classroom you can help children to make the most of their time in the classroom.
When it comes to teaching children, there are three core strategies that are used in most schools. Some lessons are didactic – adult controlled, and tightly focused on a specific curriculum. Other lessons are group focused, interactive lessons where children work together and learn from each other. A third, rarely used strategy, but one of the most effective teaching strategies if it is properly employed, is the maieutic strategy. This strategy is child-centered, and allows the child to direct their lessons towards things that interest them. Maieutic teaching strategies work best when the child’s desire to learn is brought to the forefront, and the child is given the tools that they need to further their own learning.
Striking the Right Balance
Sadly, most teachers cannot make effective use of group learning or child-centric strategies, even though these are effective teaching strategies. The sheer size of the average classroom, and the poor teacher to student ratio, makes it almost impossible to teach anything complex or important using anything other than a didactic teaching method. However, it is still worth breaking up the school day with some more flexible teaching methods. Directed play, computer time, and small scale field trips can all help students to explore their own personal interests and further their learning in a way that reading from a book and using a worksheet cannot do.
School projects that involve designing brochures on a computer, building models, or putting together plays and productions based on a particular historical era are not make-work or a waste of time. These activities are valuable for drawing children deeper into the world that they are learning about, and can help to cement knowledge in a way that reading a book simply cannot do.
If you are a classroom assistant or a teacher, consider finding ways to get children more involved with your classes. Children who are engaged with their teachers or who enjoy a particular subject are more likely to retain knowledge in the long term. Focus on building understanding, and memory will come.