Does Your Child Need a Tutor?

This is a question that I hear parents often ask as their children embark through their schooling journey. As much as I wish this were an easy question to answer, it is completely different for each family and each student situation.

A number of factors always come into play when considering if a tutor is the right option for your family. BUT one of the things that parents need to keep in mind is that it takes time to see the results that you desire, even with tutoring sessions weekly.

Below I have compiled a few questions and comments that I hear from parents often regarding tutoring and if their child could use the assistance.

Q. My child is about to start kindergarten, should I get he/she tutoring now?

Every family will look different, every teacher will have a difference of opinion and every tutor will have a different idea as well ……. The short answer is no. At the beginning of kindergarten, kids should be given the opportunity to get used to schooling and the changes in their daily routine. Not only that, they are needing to navigate a whole stack of new changes in learning, expectations, rules and new friends and teachers. It is overwhelming for adults……. Let alone little kids! So no. Let your child settle in. Especially in Kindergarten. If you are worried about their reading being behind, then the best thing you can do is read with them each night at home. Not a lot. Just a little.

By the time they begin Year 1, we can start to see where children are struggling a bit easier. All of the changes have been gotten used to and it may then be handy to get outside assistance once a week. You wouldn’t be looking for anything more than ½ hour if it is skill specific, or 45 minutes MAX!

Q. I think my child is struggling, is tutoring a good solution to assist with this?

Yes. It most certainly can be. BUT this also depends on the child, the age of the child, their perception of schooling and if they really are struggling, or if they are either coasting along or even if they are operating above grade level.

If your child is younger than Year 1, they need a little more time to get used to routines and changes in their lives first. If they are struggling by mid Year 1- Year 2 … then it is the perfect time to get them a bit of extra assistance. If you put them in tutoring now, it is easier to fill the gaps they may have ….. And if you leave it until Year 3, current research suggests that not only will your child be more reluctant to work with a tutor, they will have developed really good techniques to hide their struggles in the classroom. Year 3 is the clincher, if the help is received before and at this time, great growth can occur, if it isn’t received then they may continue to be behind their stage level continually.

Your child could also be just coasting alone, so they may not be putting in the effort, which in some circumstances can look they they are behind stage level. OR they could be so bored in the classroom because they aren’t being challenged and pushed, they completely check out and look like they are below stage level — when in fact they are above.

The best way to figure out the benefits of tutoring for a struggling child is to give a tutor a call. Organise a meeting and conversation regarding your child and what they are struggling in. Chat with your child’s teacher and see what they think may assist them and book them in for an initial assessment. You can then make more informed decisions regarding if tutoring is the right fit for your family and child.

Q. My child’s mid-year report shows they are operating below grade level. What should I do?

As always, the first place you should start is by having a chat with your child’s teacher. If you are very concerned, organising a sit down meeting with yourself and your child’s teacher is a better option then just parent/teacher night as it will give you more time to table your concerns and have an in-depth discussion on where your is struggling and what can be done is a great start.

As above, it is also a good idea to have a chat to a tutor to see what they are able to assist your child with.

Sometimes below grade level is simply meaning that your child is struggling a little and are still working towards the particular skill. Some children simply take a bit longer than others, and below level could mean anywhere below level.

Q. We experience tantrums every time they bring home homework, but only for particular subjects.

If your child feels sick when they need to do homework, refuse to complete homework or constantly lose their homework or are often throwing tantrums when they get home….. It can be a great indicator that your child is struggling at school. It can definitely be a major battle to get our children to complete homework, no matter if they struggle or not. But, what if it is only Maths or only English they refuse to do? Well honestly, children refuse to do things for a reason. If there is a particular subject that your child just refuses to complete homework for, it may be time to investigate why!

This is the same as tantrums at the end of school. Yes! Your child may just be plain old tired (aren’t we all!?) but when they have been stressed out all day and really struggled in the classroom environment, they will release that pressure once they are at home in their safe space.

Often, as much as our little one’s (and big one’s) are articulate and can tell us what is wrong or what has happened, when it comes to learning, they may not be sure what it is that is actually frustrating them. It could be everything, but constant tantrums can be a MASSIVE indicator that something is happening underneath — particularly if it is subject related.

Q. My child just seems angry all the time. And worst of all, angry at themselves!

This can go hand in hand with tantrums, but we often see these changes in emotion separately. Some child get angry, and I mean, REALLY angry at themselves. You may watch them doing homework, or an activity independently and all of a sudden they yell at themselves, or grip the pencil tighter, scrunch up their work, scribble all over it — you get the point. The outburst may be completely out of character and they may begin to demonstrate sign of “hating” themselves. Calling themselves stupid, dumb, hopeless…… This may be the first time you have seen the outburst, but it will definitely not be the first time they have felt this way!

Q. My child seems to be very negative and really not enjoying school, will tutoring help with this or make it worse?

Absolutely! Tutoring can definitely help with this! We can turn hate and negativity towards school and learning into enjoyment as we begin to build our students confidence in themselves, their identity and their skills! This lack of confidence is usually the thing that turns school enjoyment into a negative school experience. When a child is hit down over and over again, or are made to feel directly, or indirectly as if they are not smart enough, knowledgeable enough, or they just don’t get it ……. Then their confidence takes a massive hit — which comes through as negative associations with the school environment.

Of course there are always a million other questions that we get regarding tutoring and schooling as well. If you are on the fence, and just don’t know if tutoring is the best option for you — give us a call! We are always available to have a chat to you about your child’s needs and discuss what options we have to best help you through your schooling journey!

Written by Alysha Griffiths, owner of Breakaway Education, Mittagong and Wilton.
Photograph of Alysha Griffiths

Who is Alysha Griffiths?

Alysha Griffiths is a passionate educator, owner of Breakaway Education and a mum to June. With over 10 years teaching experience in schools, Alysha’s passion lies in education and helping kids and parents to connect the puzzle pieces of education! With a Masters in Teaching (Secondary) and a Bachelor of Arts (History, English) Alysha continually works to gain more insight and knowledge across many areas of education.