How can it be a bad thing that a child is reaching out for help? Great question.
Let me be clear. Partner work is crucial. I want kids to talk, to collaborate and to lean on each other for help. But if we are not careful, kids will ask others before they try something on their own.
Consider the following scenario. A third grade student is writing and does not feel confident about his ability to spell conventionally. He gets to a word and is unsure whether or not it is spelled correctly. He wants to ask the teacher but he remembers that he is supposed to ask three students before he approaches the teacher. He takes a moment and thinks about which kids in the class are the best spellers and he approaches one of them.
The student that is asked is interrupted from his writing. The child who asked for the help STILL doesn’t feel confident about his ability to spell and has not taken any steps to change that.
What would I do instead? When kids run into trouble (and they will) I would encourage them to ask the question to themselves first before they ask others for help. What they will discover is when they try it themselves first they are often able to figure it out. Imagine what a confidence booster this is. It will also help students become more independent (and don’t we all want that especially at the start of the year).
I would love to hear your experiences with this strategy in the comments below. If you have any questions or concerns, please write those as well and feel free to contact me for a free fifteen-minute consultation.