Image courtesy of Unsplash

When you’re planning out your child’s education, there are lots of factors to consider.
Some of the questions that you may find yourself asking include:

  • What is my child interested in?
  • What is my child’s learning style?
  • What kind of education can help my child to achieve their goals in life?

Different types of education can be better for certain children and certain subjects, and one factor
that has a big influence on your child’s learning is whether the teaching format is one-on-one or in
the context of a group. Let’s consider each of these modes of learning separately to see when each
might be helpful and how each type affects your child.

One-on-One Learning

One-on-one learning refers to a teaching session in which the student has the teacher’s undivided
attention for the entire duration of the class. One-on-one teaching is most common in the following

  • Homeschooling
  • Academic tutoring
  • Specialist tutoring in music and language
  • Therapy sessions

In each case, the content of the lesson is individualized to the needs and interests of the student
and the student can learn at his or her own pace.

Advantages of One-on-One Learning

The personalized nature of one-on-one learning can make it more effective for helping the child to
make quicker progress. As there are no other students demanding the teacher’s attention, the child
has constant support, can ask questions whenever they want and can receive immediate feedback
on their work. This focused attention can help the teacher to correct misunderstandings and bad
habits quickly and also allows the teacher to try a different approach if the child is struggling to

One-on-one teaching is ideal for students that are significantly behind or ahead of the class, who
want to learn a subject with low demand locally (like an obscure language or instrument), and who
thrive on undivided adult attention. It is an excellent choice for cerebral subjects like academics
and music.

Disadvantages of One-on-One Learning

The main disadvantage of one-on-one learning is that it is the most expensive option, as there are
no other students to share the cost of the teacher’s time. This can put one-on-one learning out of
the reach of some families. This kind of learning also requires extended focus from the student and
could prove too intense for children with short attention spans or those who thrive on peer interaction.

If your child does well with self-paced learning but a one-on-one tutor is too expensive, you could
consider investing in pre-recorded video classes that your child can watch again and again until
they have grasped each key point. Many of these online courses also offer email support if your
child has questions that aren’t covered in the course material. For supporting learning at home,
you can find simple hands on math activities and activities for other subjects that you can do
one-on-one with your child.

Group Learning

In a group, students typically receive some initial standard-level instruction from a teacher and then
break into pairs or small groups to complete a task based on the content presented. Group instruction
is typically used for:

  • Classroom learning
  • Creative classes like art, dance, and theater
  • Sports

In all of these situations, the difficulty of the lesson is based on the level of the average or majority
of the students or is designed to be open-ended so that each student completes the activity to his
or her own ability.

Advantages of Group Learning

For creative and team activities, group learning is the only method that allows students to
collaborate and negotiate without constant teacher input. This helps the students to develop
more independence and practice their problem-solving skills. It also provides opportunities for
competition, which can be a great motivator when used with discernment. Extroverted and very
active children tend to do well with group learning, especially when they are encouraged to ask
questions and seek additional support when needed.

Disadvantages of Group Learning

While this kind of learning works well for the majority, those on the lower and upper ends of the
curve may find that group learning doesn’t meet their needs. If the student falls too far behind the
group, they can feel like a failure and lack the support they need to keep progressing at their own
pace. Gifted students who move too far ahead can stop trying hard and become complacent with
their learning, become frustrated at the lack of challenge, or feel resentful if the teacher uses them
too often as a tutor for their peers.

Image courtesy of Unsplash

Finding the Best Combination of Learning Formats

Taking the pros and cons of each learning format into account, it becomes clear that a combination
of one-on-one and group learning is usually the best. For one child, that might entail classroom
learning with individual tutor support after hours. For another, it might mean homeschooling for
academic subjects and group classes for the active and creative ones.

The most important thing is to keep communicating with your child about how they are doing with
their learning and helping them to become more aware of the factors that help or hinder them. You
can also observe how your child behaves in different learning situations and use that information
to help you form a plan together with your child.

Build on Their Strengths

While it’s important to give your child additional support in their weaker areas (such as specific
difficulties with reading or math), capitalizing on their strengths is important for improving their
confidence and helping them to maximize their potential. We all like to feel like we’re good at

If you’re interested in supporting your child’s learning at home, be sure to check out the math
activities on this site. You can also read the instructions and blog posts in languages other than
English with the handy Google Translate feature on this site. Happy learning!


Author Bio: Tiffany Young is a freelance writer, content strategist, and former graduate assistant.
She frequently writes about the latest developments in teaching, public policy, standardized testing,
and educational technology for sites like HeyTutor.

Thank you Tiffany for the great info and suggestions!

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