One student helps another at North Elementary, Des Plaines, Ill.
When a friend visited recently from Calif., we were catching up on the kids, and she mentioned being pleased with her younger son -- very advanced academically -- for helping out a struggling classmate with some math problems. It was a contrast to what I'd seen written by other parents of gifted kids, many of whom seem to resent their kids being asked to serve as "unpaid assistants" to the teacher. Plenty of experts, too, are opposed to gifted kids tutoring peers in the classroom. I can see how this could misfire, at best, if not well managed and monitored. On the other hand, I wonder if the anti-tutoring parents and experts have considered the potential social and emotional learning benefits for gifted kids. In some cases, academically average or even struggling kids are socially adept, while academically gifted kids may struggle socially. Peer tutoring certainly isn't the only tool for helping them help each other, but done right, it may be worth a try.