Things your tutor won't tell you about tuition

Tuition can be hugely beneficial for your child and lead to great improvements in their attainment, self-esteem and a whole host of other areas. However, there are perhaps a few things your tutor may not tell you:

A Good Tutor Tries to Put themselves Out of a Job

While tutors are of course looking to earn a living from their job, honest and exceptional tutors will inform you of when their services are no longer required- the point where they have achieved their targets for their student. This might be with a student who has shown rapid progress or when a student gets to a level where a tutor feels they need more specialized help: for example from primary to secondary level.

One of the core principles of tuition should be the fostering of confident, competent and independent learners, in control of their own progress and destiny.

Tutoring Is More Than Just Homework-Help Tutors should offer more than just helping students with their homework- many tutors appear content to sit idly by as a student completes work during the session . That’s not to say tutors shouldn’t help with homework, but they should engage the students in the process, ensuring they have a good level of understanding and use it to introduce other areas of learning.

Parents Can Expect Too Much

Tutors aren’t magic. A child’s learning cannot be transformed overnight. Teaching is a slow and steady process, and tutors must carefully scaffold the learning for their students.

Tutors Should Let Your Child Make Mistakes

Tutors can sometimes be reluctant to admit to parents that the learning process frequently involves mistakes and erratic progress. One of the most fruitful methods of learning by making errors and learning from them. Tutors should create an environment of experimentation, where mistakes are welcomed and risk-taking encouraged, in order to allow the student to achieve a deeper understanding.

The Length and Number of Sessions Your Child Needs

Some tutors work with all their students on a lengthily and daily basis. In many cases, this is a misguided strategy. Firstly, most people have a concentration-span of around 20 minutes, decreasing rapidly with their age.

Secondly, unless an older student desperately “cramming” before an exam (something not recommended), students shouldn’t be overworked and swamped with tuition everyday. Over-tuition can often be counter-productive and lead to stress and “burnouts”. Weekly or twice weekly sessions in term-time are often plenty, with regular sessions during the holidays also perfectly manageable. However, it’s just as important that students are allowed regular opportunities to “recharge their batteries”, take a break from studying and refocus.

Tutors Don't Need to Be Specialised

Tutors don’t always need to be specialists in the subject they are tutoring. This applies particularly to primary-level, where tutors may not be a specialist in their subject, but have taught it in the curriculum before and feel comfortable tutoring in it. It is a very different story at secondary-level, where tutors are often required to delve deeper into a subject and have a specialist knowledge of it.

However, good teachers are able to transmit learning in anything- good tutors, particularly those who are/have been teachers, will have natural teaching skills, applicable to almost every part of the curriculum.

Better Tutoring Isn't Always Related to Price Extremely expensive tutors, some as much as £150 an hour, can sometimes seem tempting to parents. However, such high rates aren’t always necessarily linked to a better service. It’s important that parents strike a balance with the fees they are willing to pay tutors- average prices tend to be between £20 and £40 an hour, increasing the higher the academic level. But be careful of tutors advertising incredibly cheap rates- this is often for a reason! Saving money on a cheaper tutor also may not provide the results you are seeking from the arrangement and often suggest a tutor with limited skills and qualifications.

Tutors and students sometimes don’t “click”

Sometimes a tutor and student may, for whatever reason, not “click”. It’s important that tutors are upfront about this, as a strained relationship may infringe on a student’s learning. Most of the time, pupils will let their parents know if they are enjoying and getting the benefit out of sessions- however, a good tutor will inform parents if they think they may know someone more suited to a particular student.

Be mindful though that some children might kick up a fuss regardless of how well they got on with a tutor as they may not be enamoured with the idea of tuition!

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