If there is one subject guaranteed to raise the hackles at the school gates it is tutoring. However we all know it is going on and at one time or the other we are guaranteed to have considered it. However this week I was lucky enough to sit down with Julia Strauss who not only grew up in this area but also has been a language tutor (French, Greek and Latin) for the last decade. She kindly shared with me some of her top tips. Her number one rule is, listen, both to your child and the school that they are at. From her perspective the biggest thing that tutoring (the one on one experience can provide) is self-esteem and self-confidence. If a child has confidence in their knowledge or ability to learn they will overcome most challenges that they have but when that slips they can fall behind very quickly. In her experience 90% of the children who come to her (and all her business is word of mouth) have at one time or another raised with their parents that they need extra help. Listen to what they are telling you and don’t leave it too late. Miracles can happen but starting tutoring in April for May GCSE’s may not deliver the required support. Listen to the school. In most cases they spend eight hours a day with your child and they know the children and their ability very well. They are also very familiar with the types of children that thrive at different schools. In this brand driven society we all have school names that mean a lot to us but tutoring purely to get in to that school, particularly against a schools advice may not be the best for your child in the long term. However if the school identifies some challenges in a particular area that is exactly the time you should provide extra support. In addition Julia believes it is better for engagement to have a tutor when there is a specific goal in sight. She doesn’t have any clients under the age of nine as she believes it is too early but once they have 10, 11. 13 + or GCSE’s to aim for it can help the child to grow and by giving them confidence in an area they are weaker they may also grow in confidence across the board. Having now decided whether you should be tutoring or not Julia also gave me some tips on selecting the right tutor for your child. The biggest priority is to find someone who can connect with your child. Tutoring a lot of boys she says has made her an expert in football. As she said it is fine line to follow, you are not their friend, their parents are paying you to do a job but this is yet one more thing they have to do so if you can make it fun or less painful for them they will certainly learn more, more quickly. Find someone who is flexible. As a language expert she finds often the problem comes because of a lack of understanding of English grammar. Her analogy was that it is all about building blocks and without the foundations there is nowhere to go. Therefore you need someone who will do a full review, however sometimes the child has a huge amount of homework so don’t have someone who will only stick to their lesson plan, they can learn just as much doing their homework together, the tutor is there to help not hinder.
Julia’s final tip was one for us parents. There are things that we can do too. Getting your child to teach you something can be hugely rewarding and a big boost to their self-esteem. And yes, some homework is stupid so you can help them with it to get it done.
To contact Julia about tutoring services email: firstname.lastname@example.org Otherwise Julia has agreed to share more information with us over the coming months so contact us with any burning questions you would like answered. Finally If you do need a great tutor Julia has kindly shared her insiders contact list which we will be featuring in the next weeks!