At Tutor My Kids, this is a question often asked of us, so I thought it useful to share some thoughts. It depends on many factors: the subject area, the concentration span of your child, if her school has raised any issues and last, but by no means least, is your child aware that he’s having difficulties?
Maths or English?
Maths is very sequential with understanding of one area being prerequisite of another. Gaps in the early maths, can make learning more advanced topics much harder. For example, we recently discovered that one of our year 4 students had missed the difference between odd and even numbers. This is normally a foundation or year 1 topic which
English is similar in that gaps can be present, but it doesn’t matter if you teach punctuation before adjectives or visa versa. English topics can often be added in a much more piecemeal way. The exception to that is, however, if there are difficulties with reading and phonics. This can have a big impact on learning to write and progress if not tackled early enough. How able your child is to sit and concentrate will affect the decision to tutor.
Whilst it’s useful to fill in gaps early to enable new information to be added, it’s equally important that the child is able to sit and concentrate or the tuition will be much less effective. Parents often worry that their children won’t be able to concentrate for an hour at a time. Whilst some children just need to be a bit older to develop these skills, at Tutor My Kids, our teachers find that with a well planned lesson, broken into smaller chunks, most kids focus really well. Our private tutors often tailor the work to a student’s interests, such as football, horses, etc. as appropriate.
Some parents believe there’s a problem with how their child is progressing. It’s only natural to wonder if one child has learnt to read easily, but a younger sibling is finding it much harder. Sometimes these nagging doubts can simply be a reflection of the skills that each sibling has, sometimes of something that may be making it harder for one to learn than another.
School’s are usually really good at spotting and communicating if your child is below where they’d expect them to be. Teachers can raise concerns during the school year. Parents’ evenings and school reports tend to be a more formal way of communicating any areas of concern. If you’re concerned that school haven’t raises any issues, it’s always worth booking some time with your child’s teacher to discuss this.
Your child’s confidence
As children become older, they tend to become more aware of any differences between what they are able to do and their peers. We have spoken to many parents who report that even children in Key stage 1 – years 1 and 2, report that their children are coming home thinking that they’re ‘stupid’ because their friends can do better in certain areas. This is such a shame and can put children off school and learning.
So, when is the right time to tutor?
As discussed, it depends on a number of factors: subject, concentration, school’s view and your child’s confidence.
At Tutor My Kids we feel that the child’s confidence is the main hurdle to be overcome. Invariably it’s the word that all our parents use; of course they want their children to progress, but they’re more concerned that their children feel confident in their abilities. It makes perfect sense; we all feel more confident in ourselves when we feel we feel we’re doing a good job.
How do I find out more?
At Tutor My Kids, almost all of our tutors are fully qualified teachers; at primary school level, we insist all our tutors are teachers. So, invariably we suggest that you speak to your child’s class or subject teacher first to get their opinion on your child abilities and if they think he or she is struggling.