If you’ve decided your child needs a tutor – or someone else has suggested it to you – it’s easy to feel like you’ve done something wrong and start to panic. What if it’s too late and they never catch up? What if it’s too much for them? How will I know the tutor is a good one? How do I even find a tutor?
This isn’t helped by the forest of information that’s out there on the internet. It can feel like there are too many options and no clear advice on how to decide what’s best for your teen and your family.
This guide covers the main things to look out for when exploring tuition. We’ll go into how to tell if your child could benefit from a tutor, the different types of tutoring available, and how to make the best choices for everyone involved.
There are five main reasons why parents seek tutors for their teens…
The first reason is the most common and is how lots of people think tuition should be used. In fact, parents are increasingly choosing to incorporate one-to-one tuition as a permanent strand of their child’s education (reason 3). And everyone’s at it – the Education Endowment Fund (EEF) reports that 1 in 3 secondary school kids in the UK has a tutor. So you’re in good company – even if other parents don’t talk about it.
The answers to these questions should paint a picture of how well they’re getting on with the current help they have access to. If their environment at school or their own learning style is preventing them from doing their best, it’s a good idea to explore getting a tutor.
Here’s a quick look at the main types of tutoring available in the UK now.
Lots of savvy parents are switching to online tutoring, taking in both the flexibility and cost savings together with a broader choice of quality tutors. But different options will suit different children.
“When I first looked into a tutor I did not even think about having an online tutor but as we have working commitments, we thought we would try it, it was worth it. My daughter got more confident each lesson & James really helped explain in a way she understood. Couldn’t recommend it enough.”Angela, MyTutor parent
With certain types of tutoring, you’ll be limited with your choice of tutors. i.e. they’ll be one of a small handful in your local area or you’ll be allocated someone who’s free by an agency. With other types of tutoring, you’ll be in a position to choose who’s best for your child.
There’ll be other considerations that are unique to your situation – such as SEN, cultural, and personal health requirements – but if you work through these 5 main areas, you should be able to narrow down your choice of tutors.
If we think of tutoring as a piece in the puzzle of a child’s education, it makes sense to consider the other pieces it needs to fit in with. These include: your child, your family, your tutor, your child’s school and any after-school clubs.
Your child needs to buy-in to the idea of tutoring for it to work best. This can be hard as they can feel like they’ve ‘failed’ or that they’re ‘stupid’ and can perceive tutoring negatively as a result. It’s best to frame tuition as a stress-reliever – something that’s going to boost their confidence and give them control over their own progress. Once they understand the benefits, it’s good to involve them when choosing a tutor (where possible). If your child feels consulted in the process they’re likely to be more open to the idea.
Tutoring can put a strain on the rest of your family. If you have a tutor to your house, siblings/partners/pets will need to be quiet and out-of-the-way. You may feel obliged to tidy or ‘host’ the tutor when you could be doing other things. Alternatively, if you go to a tutor’s house, taxiing your child to-and-fro may neglect your other kids’ needs and the demands of your own schedule. It’s hard! When choosing a tutor, try to find a solution that’s going to fit into family life and not create more work for you. Online tuition is especially good here as it’s easy to arrange/reschedule and there’s no travel involved.
To get the most out of tutoring, it’s worth developing a good working relationship with your child’s tutor. Clear communication will help make feedback and scheduling lessons as smooth as possible. The instant messaging tools on online platforms means you can arrange lessons flexibly (and there’s a written record of lesson feedback) but in-person tutors can be accommodating too if you’re prepared to work at it. If tutors are kept in the loop, they’ll be much more able to fit around you, rather than you around them. Beware of incurring cancellation charges for re-arranging lessons though. It’s best to check what the tutor’s policy is right at the start.
Tutoring works best when it’s supporting good classroom teaching. Some teachers may take tutoring as a slight on their abilities but the truth is they complement each other brilliantly. The classroom is where the curriculum is taught in a structured and social environment. It is paced and covered systematically for the whole class – which often has students of mixed abilities. One-to-one tuition allows pupils to home in on their learning gaps or stretch in areas of particular interest in a learning style and pace that suits them. Talk to your child’s teacher and find out what areas they should be focusing on in their one-to-one sessions. Again, if teachers feel consulted, they’ll be more open-minded about their students having tutoring. This twin strategy of school + tutoring is becoming increasingly popular in the UK, so you probably won’t be the first parent to bring it up.
After-school clubs and activities teach kids some of their most important lessons about teamwork, discipline and perseverance. It’s important that tuition doesn’t take the place of these. When choosing what type of tutoring will fit best into your lifestyle, consider how to fit it around your child’s outdoor, creative and physical pursuits.
Before you start, have some clear goals of what you want to achieve from tuition. It’ll make it much easier to measure progress. Once you’ve started working with a tutor, there are a few ways to measure impact:
When tuition works well, you should see a boost in your child’s confidence and their grades too. They should feel empowered in their learning and engage with their lessons more at school.
If your child becomes nervous about their tuition sessions or overwhelmed with prep work for them, raise specific feedback to your tutor and see if it improves. If not, it’s probably a good sign that you should find a different tutor, try a different type of tuition or re-evaluate whether tuition is the right option for your child.
Whether or not tutoring is the right option for your child, this guide will hopefully have given you some useful ways to start gathering information. At MyTutor, we understand the hectic lives of families with teenagers, so we’ve made it easier to find great tutors who deliver results, making life less stressful for busy parents doing their best.
As the UK’s leading platform for online tuition, we’re on a mission to bring life-changing tuition to all. Our tutors are personally interviewed and work online with pupils from all walks of life in our interactive lesson space. They have proven to boost confidence and raise results by an average of one whole grade over a term, often more. Want to find out if online tuition could work for you? Give one of our Tutor Experts a call. They’ll be able to answer your questions and help you find the best tutor for your child. Call 020 3773 6024 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.