Parents will be all too familiar with the struggle it can be to get their children to knuckle down to their homework.
For those who are thinking about tutoring, helping their child to feel positive about the prospect of working with a tutor is the key to family harmony. Parents who have identified the need for a tutor and inquired about the service then need to speak to the child about the plan.
Some children positively welcome the idea of tutoring, whether to prepare them for exams or give them additional help in a subject area they are finding tricky. Others could feel nervous about the prospect of one-to-one sessions or might regard tutoring as simply “more homework”. In these instances, providing reassurance and helping the child to be open to the idea is important – for instance, a shy child might be slightly apprehensive about the idea of tutoring and therefore will need a tutor that is sympathetic, and who will concentrate on building their confidence.
Mylene Curtis, owner and managing director of Fleet Tutors, advises that making a distinction between a teacher and a tutor can be useful;
'Ultimately what we are saying is that "a tutor is coming in to help make school work easier for you so you get it done quickly, you enjoy it more and have more time for fun, and the things you like doing." Tutors have some tricks to help explain complicated things and make it a bit more fun but children need to know that tutors are not going to do their homework for them. Rather, they are going to show you how school work can become a lot easier.'
Children might question why a parent cannot help the child with their schoolwork or exam preparation. As many families have discovered, even if you have the time, you may not have the endless patience that is required.
'Many parents, myself included, are too close and too easily frustrated for it to work well,' explains Curtis. 'That is a normal reaction - doctors don’t treat their own children when they have medical difficulties. Just because we might think of ourselves as professionals and good at this or that, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have what your child needs in this instance. Yes, you have to be supportive of your child’s school work but providing external support such as tutoring can take the pressure off.'
Anne English, an advisor on Fleet Tutors’ client service team thinks it’s about the personality fit - 'Getting a bit of a "pen picture" of your child means we can get an understanding of what might suit them and work best. Parents will occasionally say their child is not sure about tutoring so they just want to "see how it goes" and it is fine that they might feel like that.'
Lorna Scowen, Fleet Tutors’ client service team leader, spends her working day making sure parents find the right tutor fit for their child;
'Parents will say, for instance, that their daughter gets distracted easily so they need someone engaging while some families think a stricter tutor would work for their child. Some parents want someone more traditional and very much a subject expert who can take it to another level, particularly at GCSE and A-level. At primary level, parents are in search of a tutor with the attributes "fun and engaging". Parents know their children best and our job is to find out what kind of tutor they feel will inspire their child.'
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