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Should You Have Your Children Tutored?

Everyone seems to be employing a tutor to work with their children. Should I?

Parents need to ask themselves, and possibly their children, a number of questions before they decide they wish to search for a tutor.

Should my child have a tutor?
The answer here is "No", not unless it's necessary. Although most parents come to us requesting support for their child for the right reasons, we do have some who aren't sure why they should employ a tutor, just that the neighbours do so they think it's the right thing to do. Private tuition doesn't suit all children and the pressure that some feel and increased workload can occasionally do more harm than good. A child has also got to be receptive to the support otherwise little benefit, if any will be gained. A parent should discuss the possibility with their child of hiring a tutor before a search beings and the child should be happy for them to proceed. We also recommend that parents talk to a child's class teacher to try and identify why a child may be struggling and ask what support they could provide at home.

Is there a minimum age before a child can receive tutoring?
No, because a child's most influential tutors are usually his or her parents and they start their teaching from day one. However, because we firmly believe that a parents' role is so important in a child's development, our policy is not to offer tutors to support children who have not yet started school as we feel that it should be the parents responsibility in a child's early years and we would question why they feel they need to have a tutor. The exception to this is if a parent would like to help a young child's learning of a foreign language which may not be something a parent can teach.

What do I wish to achieve from the tuition?
There are many reasons why tuition may be required. A young child in a large primary class can begin to fall behind and with the best will in the world from their teachers, it can be difficult to provide the extra one-to-one support from which the child could benefit. Having a tutor for a few weeks could be all that's required to provide the child with the added confidence and self-belief which helps them to progress at an increased rate. For older children preparing for exams, the same can apply. It can also help to focus minds for students who may be struggling to organise their study and are falling behind.

What checks should I do when I find a tutor?
Reputable agencies will carry out checks on tutors before they register them and subsequently recommend them to parents. These checks should include an Enhanced Criminal Record Bureau (CRB) check, taking up at least two references, checking the status of qualified teachers and interviewing the tutor. With one of our agencies, we also interview the tutors in their own home if they may possibly be using that location. This enables us to be confident that it is a suitable place for such an activity.

What qualifications should a tutor possess?
All of our tutors must have a teaching degree/certificate or a degree in the subject for which they wish to tutor as we believe that the subject knowledge is important but also the ability to impart that knowledge to others.

When should tuition take place?
A school day for some children can be very tiring, especially for those who are younger and so to add more learning later in the day can be too much. Parents are always the best judge of this but if your child is someone who struggles to concentrate on homework after school it may then possibly tutoring at this time would not be appropriate. Many tutors will work at the weekends and so this is often a good time when a child is fresher and more alert.

Is it necessary to meet a tutor before we decide to proceed with the tutoring?
We always recommend an initial meeting involving the tutor, student and parents. For younger children in particular, it may help to alleviate possible nerves, it gives the student and parents an opportunity to learn more about a tutor's academic background and experience and it provides the tutor with an opportunity to find out in more depth, the objectives of the tuition. Many tutors will do this as an unpaid session but this needs to be clarified before the arrangements are made.

Should I pay for a fixed amount of lessons?
Different agencies work in different ways but we never recommend paying for a fixed number of hours unless you can be assured of terminating the tuition at any point and having any remaining credit refunded. Although most student/tutor partnerships work very effectively, there are occasions, and often through no-one's fault, when a pairing doesn't work and if that happens, the tutoring needs to stop.

Should I observe the tutoring sessions?
Parents need to be confident that the person they employ to work with their child is competent and trustworthy and for these reasons we would suggest that they do observe at least the first lesson. However, it can be off-putting for both the child and the tutor if a third party is 'hovering' close by so a discrete distance would be ideal. Especially with younger children, we always recommend to tutors that they only teach children if there is a responsible adult in the house and that the door to the room is always left open. We would not normally consider a bedroom as a suitable place for tutoring.