Common questions we hear from parents are When should my child start tutoring? or How many lessons will my child need?
Somewhat ambiguously, our answer is usually ‘it depends!’.
Every child is different, and the timings will often depend on their strengths, weaknesses, and goals.
There are several indicators that may prompt you to consider that the time is right to use a tutor. Your child may be increasingly anxious and not enjoying or flourishing at their school, or might be losing confidence, focus and motivation; increasingly overlooked in their busy classroom; in a school that is not providing enough stretch and challenge for them, or possibly struggling to prepare for coming exams.
It is a good idea to talk with and take any advice from your child’s school or class teacher. If there are any specific SEN concerns, then you should also talk directly with the school SENCo. Most schools will be very supportive of you using a tutor if the teaching from the tutor is high quality and complements their schoolwork and learning. It may be useful to ask your tutor to liaise directly with your child's class teacher, as this professional dialogue between the two will help coordinate the teaching and learning.
Talk with your child and (depending on their age) they may also be able to express their wishes. If they are anxious about the thought of a tutor, then adopt an approach of “Let’s try it for a couple of weeks and see how it goes!”
Here are some things you should keep in mind when considering finding a tutor:
The reasons for tutoring from an early age can vary, but in our experience is often for:
In each example above, we recommend tutoring as early as possible once the need has been identified.
At this age, children are building foundation skills that they will use for the rest of their lives. By building a solid foundation, children perform better across their entire academic career and gain an early love of learning and confidence.
Tutoring at this age is common for students preparing for their exams, specifically GCSE and A-Levels, as these are the gateways to the next stage of education. Families are often worried about poor performance impacting their child’s future.
Several studies have shown that just ten weeks of tutoring before exams are enough to bump up a student’s results by 1-2 grades. It is thought that more than a quarter of children across the UK receive tutoring, and 38% of those specifically for this type of pre-exam revision.
That said, it is important to remember that tutoring at these age groups shouldn’t just be left until the last minute to catch up before an exam.
Ongoing tutoring can be an essential tool to build confidence, explore topics that are not covered by the standard curriculum, and keep your child at the top of their performance. This is increasingly important as more schools use teacher assessments to determine what ability set children are placed in.
The question of how frequently lessons take place is also an ‘ It depends!’ question.
It is good to establish a fixed routine for the tuition. Having a ‘still point’ through the week can prove beneficial, particularly for younger children.
Once the tutor has started to work with your child and has assessed where they are and what they need to do, then they will be able to establish a good rhythm and routine for lessons and advise the family on this. The size and shape of the tuition may change over time.
Most younger children start by having one hour each week, though very young children may have more frequent and shorter lessons if they cannot focus for an hour. Some families also choose to continue having tuition through some of the holiday periods, avoiding the lost learning that can happen over the long 6-week summer holiday. (Studies show that primary children, on average, lose between 25% – 30% of their school-year learning over the summer.)
For older children, the frequency of tuition is dependent on the ambition and timescales involved. It is much better to plan for a long run-in to exams, with a steady build-up of tuition focusing on building confidence, core skills, and then exam technique. A last-minute crash course of intensive lessons will probably not provide this and may backfire, as children can feel overwhelmed and even panic if they have a lot to do in a short timescale.
For younger children, weekly lessons of one hour are generally a good starting point. The tutor will break up the lesson into smaller chunks of varied activities, to help with focus and motivation.
For older children, the lesson's length depends on the subject level and their learning style. Some children work well with regular one-hour lessons, but others, particularly at A-Level, prefer longer lessons of 90 mins or 2 hours. The tutor and child together will be able to gauge what works best.
Most tuition takes place during the evening or over weekends. Weekday evenings after school are usually more convenient, keeping the weekends free for non-school activities. However, after school may not be the best time for tuition if your child is tired from a long school day or travelling, as they may struggle to maintain their focus and energy levels. Weekend lessons can be a good time for tuition if this is the case.
The final point to consider is that lessons are only as good as the teacher, so finding a high-quality tutor is really important!
You can also use our teacher search form to tell us what you are looking for in a tutor. We will then send you a list of immediately available teachers that you can interview to see if they are a good fit for your needs.
Working with a professional teacher ensures they have experience teaching your child’s age group and chosen subject. They will also be more knowledgeable about doing an initial assessment and accurately identifying how much help will be required to help meet your family’s tutoring goals.
We can find you qualified teachers in your area for home or online tuition