The “average” performance of students who receive individual instruction is better than 98% of all performances by students who receive conventional instruction in a classroom.* It is a stunning difference.
So whenever you have a chance to teach your child something, feel confident that just by your personal attention and your up-close understanding of her particular approach to learning, your instruction can be very effective. If you feel uncertain of the material your child is struggling with, encourage him to ask the teacher for some one-on-one time before or after school. If the struggle is ongoing, you might want to look for other ways for your child to get individual help from an older child, another adult, or even a professional tutor.
*Source: Benjamin Bloom (1984, June/July) “The 2 Sigma Problem: the search for methods of group instruction as effective as one-to-one tutoring” in Educational Researcher, the flagship journal of the American Educational Research Association. Bloom and two colleagues looked at three different learning conditions (individual tutoring, mastery learning, regular classroom) over 11 weeks, and repeated the study 5 times. According to my most recent search of ISI Web of Knowledge (a citation index available through many academic libraries), this article has never been cited. I really think it needs more attention.
Incidentally, the author is probably best known for “Bloom’s taxonomy,” a hierarchically organized list of thinking strategies. You can find a revised–and near the bottom a simplified–version of it at this page from Valdosta.
Coming August 19: some strategies Bloom, his colleagues, and the teachers used to help “average” performance exceed 84% of the performances achieved by conventional classroom instruction.