How to tell if your child could benefit from extra help, what options are out there, and how to make the best choice
If you’re thinking of getting your child a tutor, you might have lots of questions. Like what if you left it too late and they never catch up? Or what if it’s too much for them on top of their school work? Will you be able to afford it? And how will you know the tutor is a good one?
Check out our tutors and see if online tuition could work for you.
There’s a lot to think about! Well, here we’ll cover all the key areas when you’re thinking of tuition. Like how to tell if your child needs a tutor, the different types of tuition that are out there, and how to make the best choice for everyone.
- Why might my child need a tutor?
- How to find out if your child needs a tutor
- Finding a tutor – what are the options and how should I choose?
- Choosing the right tutor for your child
- How do I make tutoring work for everyone involved?
- How do I know if tuition is working?
- And what about if tuition isn’t working for my child?
Why might my child need a tutor?
When it comes down to it, there are 5 main reasons why parents think of getting a tutor for their teen:
- Because their child is struggling in a subject (or subjects) and is falling behind.
- Their teen isn’t challenged enough by the work covered in class.
- Parents want to make sure that there aren’t any gaps in their teen’s learning.
- Because their child isn’t very confident with their schoolwork.
- Their teen needs certain grades to get a place at university.
The first reason is the most common and is how lots of people think tuition should be used. The Education Endowment Fund (EEF) says that 1 in 3 secondary school kids in the UK has a tutor. So you’re in good company!
How to find out if your child needs a tutor
Even if some of those reasons above ring true for you, every child is different. So to help you decide what’s right for your teen, here are some questions to ask yourself:
See if their approach to learning is holding them back
- Are they keeping up with class averages in school tests?
- Are they too shy to speak up in lessons?
- Do they not have confidence in their subjects?
- Are they working hard but not moving forward?
- Do they struggle with their homework? (And do you feel like you can’t help?)
- Has their teacher recommended that they get extra help?
- Is your child bored or disruptive in class? (can be a sign of frustrated cleverness or not understanding the material covered)
Find out what barriers there may be at school
- Are their classes too big to get 1-1 help?
- Do their teachers stay the same or do a lot of staff leave after a short time?
- Are lots of teens at their school getting tuition?
- Can your teen get extra help at school, if they need it?
The answers to these questions should paint a picture of how well they’re getting on with their studies and what kind of help the school can offer them.
Finding a tutor – What are the options and how should I pick?
Here’s a quick look at the main types of tutoring available in the UK now.
Here’s a quick look at the main types of tutoring in the UK now:
- Online tuition – with these services, you can choose from a huge range of tutors for 1-1 online lessons – so there’s a better chance to find a tutor who’s right for your child. And it’s flexible (since no one has to travel) making it a great fit for busy families. It might not be the best option though for piano lessons.
- Agencies – these are organisations that match you with local, in-person tutors. They’re expensive and hyper-local (so if you live in the countryside, it might be really hard to find someone).
- Independent tutors – these are tutors who offer tuition outside of an organising body. They can be ex-teachers who are hard to come by and often fully-booked. Like all in-person services, teens can find sitting side-by-side with tutors in their homes a bit awkward (especially when there’s a big age gap there).
- Tuition centres – these places run small-group tuition outside of school hours and on weekends. They’re pretty cost-effective but the content and teaching isn’t tailored to each student.
- Online directories – these are websites where independent tutors can advertise their services, like Gumtree. There are few/zero quality checks so you’ll have to do lots of research if you go down this route. Some charge you for tutors’ contact details.
There are lots of different things to think about when looking for a tutor. More and more parents are using online tuition, because it’s flexible (saving them time on travel) and it’s cost-effective. Plus, with online tuition, you can choose from a wide range of quality tutors.
“When I first looked into tuition, I didn’t even think about getting an online tutor. But with all our working commitments, we thought we would try it out–and it was worth it! My daughter got more confident each lesson & James really helped explain in a way that she understood. Couldn’t recommend it enough.”
–Angela, MyTutor parent
Picking a tutor can be something parents struggle with. But it comes down to 5 basic questions:
- Is it someone your child will engage with? It’s important for your teen to get on with their tutor. They’ll want to feel comfortable asking their questions so they can fill in their learning gaps and grow. It’s why older siblings and other near-peer tutors work so well for teens. Tutors who are close in age know what your teen’s going through and the relationship between them can motivate your child to do their best.
- Is the tutor good at communicating? Teaching qualifications aren’t always the best measure of how well they’ll get through to your teen. We’ve all had a teacher who just made us copy notes from the board. If you can meet with a tutor for a free intro session before committing to lessons, that’s a huge plus.
- Does the tutor have a good understanding of the exam board/topics being taught? Again, qualifications alone aren’t always enough. Ask how up-to-date the tutor is with curriculum. It could be that a mentor tutor has a better idea of teaching the syllabus than a retired teacher. Plus, mentor tutors who are closer in age still take exams at uni, so they know what techniques work best.
- Is it someone YOU can work with? Is the tutor able to fit into your family schedule? Will you have to be on-hand to drive somewhere or will you feel like you have to tidy the house whenever they come round? Do you have control over when lessons take place? How easy is it to reschedule (life happens!). Are they in your budget? Does their communication style work for you?
- Is the tutor trusted by other parents? To feel confident about a tutor, it helps to hear about how good they are from other parents. You might be referred to a local, in-person tutor by a friend. Or if you’re thinking of online tuition, you can see lots of honest reviews left by parents like you on tutors’ profiles.
When you’re picking your teen’s tutor, you might have other things to think of: like if your kid needs SEN support, and if you’ve got cultural or personal health requirements. But if you work through these 5 main questions, you should have an easier time choosing the right tutor.
Keen to see 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. Or check out our tutors here.
How do I make tutoring work for everyone involved?
If you think of tutoring as a puzzle piece that makes up your child’s education, then you’ll know there are other pieces involved too. To make everything fit together, you’ll need to consider: your child, your family, your tutor, your child’s school and any after-school clubs. Let’s see how you can make all the pieces match up!
Your child needs to buy into the idea of tutoring for it to work best. This can be hard if they think they’re getting a tutor because they’ve ‘failed’ or are ‘stupid’. Let them know that their tuition is there to be a stress-reliever – something that’s going to boost their confidence and give them control over their learning. Once they get why a tutor is there to help them, include them in the process. If your child feels like they’ve been part of picking their tutor, they’ll be more open to the idea.
Even though hiring a tutor should help make things easier, tutoring can still put extra pressure on the rest of your family. If you’ve got a tutor coming to the house, siblings/partners/pets might need to be quiet and out of the way. You may feel like you need to tidy up or host the tutor when you could be doing other things. And if you go to a tutor’s house, taxiing your child to and from might just be another thing on your long to-do list. When picking a tutor, try to find a solution that’s going to fit into your family life– not create more work for you. Online tuition is easy to book, reschedule, and there’s no travel involved so you save on time (and fuel!).
A huge benefit of quality online tutoring is that communication can be super easy for everyone. Instant messaging tools on platforms like ours means that you can book lessons and get in touch with the tutor without fuss, if anything comes up. And there’s even a written record of lesson feedback so you know what’s going on. Plus, you and your teen can watch their lessons over again since they’re all recorded. Online platforms that are well thought out give tutors peace of mind too. They can easily reach you and know if they need to re-jig their lesson.
Your child’s school
In a classroom, teens are at different levels and abilities. It’s not easy for the class teacher to make sure everyone is getting the right support they need all the time. It’s even harder when the class size goes up. 1-1 tuition is a great way to cover any learning gaps or for teens to stretch in areas where they’re doing really well. They can learn at their own pace. Talk to your child’s teacher and find out what areas they should focus on in their tutoring sessions. You’re helping the teacher too in this way. This twin strategy of school + tutoring is becoming more and more 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, being creative, and taking risks. It’s important that tuition doesn’t take the place of these. When picking the type of tutoring for your teen, try to make it fit around your child’s outdoor, creative and physical activities.
How do I know if tuition is working?
Before they start, set some clear goals with your teen about what they should get out of the tuition. It’ll make it a lot easier to measure how they’re getting on. Let your child’s tutor know about these goals too at the start. Once your teen’s tuition is underway, here are a few ways you can work out how it’s going:
- Ask your child if they’re finding the sessions helpful.
- See if there’s a difference in your child’s attitude to homework and school. Are they finding their homework easier?
- Chat with your child’s tutor about how they’re getting on.
- Check to see if your child’s test scores at school are getting better.
- Ask your child’s teacher if they’ve noticed an improvement in their confidence/grades.
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 be more active in their lessons at school.
And what about if tuition isn’t working for my child?
If your teen is nervous about their tuition sessions or if they feel overwhelmed with prep work, let your tutor know. See if things get better. If they stay the same, it’s probably a good sign that you should find a different tutor, try a different type of tuition, or re-think whether tuition is the right option for them.
At MyTutor, we understand the busy lives of families with teens. We’ve made it easier to find great tutors who deliver results and make life less stressful for parents doing their best. Our tutors are personally interviewed (just 1 in 8 who apply make it) 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.
Whatever you decide, we hope that your teen feels their best this school year!
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 email@example.com. Or check out our tutors here.