Kids tutoring kids

January 23, 2010

I coach a Science Olympiad team and this year our B team (or JV team) was short on members. The 3rd grade sister of one of our A team members volunteered to take on the Fossils event. Typically Science Olympiad team members are 6th grade and above, but as we needed an extra student, we were happy to take her. Fossils happens to be her older brother’s event and he has started coaching her. I believe he holds up a fossil and asks her what it looks like. She may say, “like a unicorn horn”. He lets her write that down in her notebook – and then tells her the scientific name which she writes alongside it. Later he tests her – and when he holds up that fossil, she looks at her homemade key – finds the ‘unicorn horn’ and gives the correct name from her homemade key.
Isn’t that a cool story? And the best thing is, her brother will be cementing the knowledge in his brain as he teaches her.

** Update: since writing this post we had our Regional Science Olympiad contest and the little 3rd grader I just wrote about took the bronze medal in Fossils – despite the fact that all the other kids competing were middle schoolers! So it worked.
As a high schooler I tutored other high schoolers in math – and I am convinced that is why I still remember all my math even though I have never used it since then. And it wasn’t just beneficial to me – my students all went up at least a grade, probably because I was more on their level and could relate to them better than an adult.
My oldest daughter who is now in college made money as a high schooler tutoring as well. It paid better than babysitting – but as she was far cheaper than regular tutors she found as much work as wanted. And once again – her knowledge in the areas she taught is excellent as there is no better way to learn than to teach someone else.
So, if you have a child that needs help, and you can’t afford $35 an hour tutors, find an older student who is doing well academically and offer them $10 an hour. And if you have a teen with good grades who needs extra cash, get them to make a leaflet and put it up at the local public library.
And if you have success with this idea, come back and post a comment. I’d love to hear from you.