There are so many factors to consider when seeking out a tutor or an organisation to help your child.
Many parents feel pressure to get their child help quickly and often jump into the most convenient or popular organisation when seeking tutoring assistance.
Parents need to remember that they are making an investment into their child’s future when inviting a tutor into the mix and every consideration must be made to pick a tutor or organisation that is best suited to the needs of their child.
We put together a list of the 7 skills we believe are vital to success in tutoring and learning.
1. People Skills
The first thing to look for in a tutor is someone with fantastic people skills, someone with the ability to engage with your child and someone who your child is going to love working with.
One of the most important skill sets a prospective tutor needs to effectively tutor your child is the ability to relate the material being taught to your child with enough enthusiasm and energy to make it fun and to reach your child at a relatable level of understanding.
Teaching and the ability to relate a concept to your child at their level is an art.The greatest teachers are not always the teachers with the best qualifications, personal achievements or curriculum knowledge.
They are usually the teachers that are able explain the same concept to number of different learners at different levels and effect learning with each one. When you meet with a prospective tutor measure the way they converse with you and your child and see if the tutor can relate to your child as without this essential skill they won’t be able to help your child.
2. Learning Culture
The emphasis of the learning environment plays a major role in the success of any tutoring program. The best learning environment for a child in one which focuses all the activities on building up the child rather than focusing purely on curriculum.
When you focus on the child and the soft skills that they need to develop to learn, then the skills and the curriculum knowledge are gained easily.
Too often, the tutor or program focuses primarily on just teaching the skills needed to progress through and section and this can be demotivating to a child and although they may master the skill, they may not retain that knowledge going forward.
A major struggle that can arise when looking into a tutor can be the availability of the tutor for the long term. Parents need to understand that work gets more difficult as their child progresses through the grades and the need for tutoring may present itself at different times in your child’s life.
Parents need to be careful to choose an organisation that has a proven track record over time. The last thing you want to do for your child is to consistently change methods, programs and tutors every time a problem comes up.
The best organisations can offer this sort of continuity to parents and learners across all grades. The methods taught, and the styles of teaching remain consistent and your child can develop the skills they need to progress in a familiar environment that will help them progress faster.
These organisations also know your child’s interests and struggles and can best serve your child’s learning requirements over the long term.
Life happens when you least expect it and often things come up that are out of our control. The need for flexibility is so important to the tutoring process not only for the child but also the parents.
Most organisations and private tutors work on rigid schedules, with some even asking for up to a month notice to change or cancel lessons.
This is just not practical, especially when live throws a curve ball. Parents need to consider the impact on learning momentum that occurs when a child misses a lesson or two just because the organisation or tutor are inflexible.
The other consideration is that tests and exams don’t always fit neatly around the tutor’s schedule and so your child may miss out on vital support for these tests just because the organisation couldn’t change their schedule to suit that need.
Pick a tutor or organisation that is happy to be flexible and accommodate the ever-changing needs of children at school.
Parents should also look carefully at the policies o the organisation when it comes to rescheduling lessons that where missed.
Most organisations will charge for additional lessons if not enough notice was given prior to the cancellation.
You want to find an organisation that not only understands that not everything can be planned, but actively looks to find a solution to reschedule at no additional charge.
5. Adaptable Tutors and Curriculum
Its very rare that we come across tutors that can completely cover all the aspects that a child needs to learn. For example, not all English tutors may have covered Hamlet or a particular poem that a child is currently working on at school.
The tutor will most likely have the skills to help the child, but it is always better for someone with first-hand knowledge of a topic to assist. The ability of an organisation to adapt to your child’s needs by offering the best tutor available each week to handle the current problems is key to building a solid foundation for learning. There is nothing more demotivating for a child when the person they coming to for help seems less confident in their knowledge of a subject.
Many tutoring organisations work from pre-set programs that mirror the curriculum of the school. So, when your child goes for a lesson they most often than not are working at the same pace and on the same subject matter at school. This can be great for a learner who is looking to advance their knowledge of a subject they already understand but can destroy the confidence of a child that is struggling to grasp a certain problem and is falling behind. The curriculum taught by the tutor needs to adapt to the issues face by the learner and must be geared towards building the child up from where they are to where they need to be.
6. Parent Involvement in the Process
Tutors that prioritise parent involvement are usually the ones that get the best results. The relationship between a parent, child and teacher is so important for the development of a child.
Teachers and parents see the behaviour and actions of a child in different environments and can learn different things about how the child responds to certain situations and challenges.
There must be a focus on communication between the parents and the tutors if your child is going to have the best chance at success.
Parents should look for tutors and organisations that understand this vital role a parent can play and gives opportunity for a consistent feedback loop between the child, the parent and the tutor.
In our experience, the decisions of what help is needed is far to often left up to the child without parental guidance and this doesn’t help to get the learning starting on the right foot.
7. Hands on Practical Application
Learning doesn’t happen effectively in a silo. The soft skills needed to apply the knowledge or skill learned to a problem is a major part of the learning process.
Teaching the child to apply the knowledge learned is the goal of every teacher and tutor. This is not easily done on pre-set programs or with concentrated learning on one focus area.
The approach to learning cannot be purely theoretical but must include practical real-life examples that your child can grasp and then apply the learned knowledge too.
Without this hands-on approach the retention of knowledge becomes less, and your child can miss an opportunity to learn a vital soft skill in the learning process.
Your child’s tutor must be able to reach them at a level they understand and apply practical examples to help your child best understand every concept.
As a parent you only want what is best for your child and you owe it to them to do your due diligence when selecting a tutoring organisation that understands your child’s needs and knows, through proven methods, the best way to get your child’s confidence up and get them back on track on their learning journey.
The best tutors are those that have the greatest people skills, are flexible, adaptable and reliable and work in close relationship with the parents to help each child reach their full potential.