What to Keep in Mind when You are Beginning your Tutoring Journey

When you are beginning the tutoring journey, there are so many things that parents are needing to think about and consider.

From the perspective of a teacher, a parent and the owner of a tutoring centre; the below list is just a few things that you need to keep in mind when you start with a new tutor, or if you have never received tutoring before.

#1 The first session is not a true indication of the tutors capabilities, or if your child and the tutor are appropriately matched.

Why would I mention this? Well, from experience! A first tutoring session is ideally a “get to know you” session. They will look different for each tutor and each student as well. We always start with getting to know our student……… because this is simply the ONLY way in which you can build rapport. And rapport = a strong, safe and respectful relationship between the tutor and the student. There is NO POINT diving straight into an assessment session if the student is reluctant to come to tutoring. This definitely would not help the situation at all. The other thing to keep in mind is that both the tutor and the student will both be nervous during the session. It is a huge task to guide a student when you have minimal knowledge of their skills and abilities. Meeting new people is not an easy thing for a lot of us to do!

So what would I suggest? Well. Give the tutor a good 3- 4 session for both tutor and student to get to know each other. If after those first session there just isn’t the connection, then contact us! Let me know! We can only provide solutions if we are graced with the problem. It is when parents simply pull their children our after one session, that makes our tutors and my job extremely difficult…. Particularly, when we are not given the opportunity to provide an alternate tutor for the family as well!

#2 Your child’s tutoring journey will be completely different from the family down the road.

Yes! You read that right. Great tutoring means that not one child will be given the exact same activities to work through during tutoring sessions. EVEN if the child down the road is working on the EXACT same skills……. The sessions are always going to look a little different. Why? Well, this is something we pride ourselves on! Teaching and learning activities will look different for each child as we take into consideration your child’s likes and dislikes; what they enjoy doing; and the way in which your child learns.

Although both children may be developing their skills in timetables, a tutor may do a chalk activity outside with one child and a speed drill with another based on child preferences.

Is this a bad thing? DEFINITELY NOT! It is also not a bad thing if 2 children are given the exact same task.

Another thing to remember with this is that your child’s path will always be different no matter what! Each child picks of some skills worked on faster than others, they may need more revising and practice, they may be able to perform the skill in one area (like straight algorithms) but struggle in another (problem solving).

#3 We don’t have magic wands and all your child’s struggles are impossible to be overcome in 2 sessions!

Yep. Hard to read I know. It is something that I am asked countless times. If you are wondering in terms of confidence, it can take up to a term to develop a bit of confidence in students, particularly when they are finding some skills more difficult than others. A term though is at the very earliest. If you child is quite far behind and struggle significantly, we can start to see confidence at the 6 month mark and the most changes at the conclusion of a year of tutoring.

And honestly, some students will just need ongoing tutoring to help in their confidence and overcome the obstacles they are faced with as each of their skills develop.

#4 Skill development is more important than the term “curriculum aligned”.

I put this one in for a very good reason. I see a lot of tutors claiming that they align to the curriculum. Which is great! BUT totally unnecessary to point out! If your tutor is doing their job (the reason why you are paying them) they should be automatically aligning their skills to the curriculum. It is well and good to align to the curriculum as well — but do they understand the curriculum lingo? Teacher professional speak can sometimes also be misinterpreted and difficult to understand. Skill development and the building of these skills is far more important to look out for. When a tutor is able to take a student back a stage or two, back to the skill level the student can confidently work through, and then rebuild these skills —- that is where the magic is. Otherwise it is always moving forward and NEVER plugging the holes and building confidence in the area that the student was struggling with from the get go.

#5 Do they provide you with adequate updates on your child’s progress?

SUPER important! All of our tutors will take the time at the end of a session to update parents on the tutor session and the progress of your child! If you need to have a longer chat than the usual couple of minutes, we can always arrange a longer meeting time to work through any concerns that may have arisen during sessions, or go through additional information from school and other stakeholders in your child’s education.

We also are able to provide progress updates via email or telephone and you also will receive a report of your child’s progress each 6 months (in line with the school reports).

#6 We are all in this journey together!

We are here to work with you! If you child doesn’t enjoy something, they are finding something more difficult than it should be, they dislike tutoring session …… ANYTHING….. Then we are here to work with you, your child and your family. All you need to do is contact us!

We are here together. As a teacher and a parent, I want nothing more than for everyone to WORK TOGETHER to deliver the best outcome for the child. That means if you would like us to attend meetings with your child’s teacher, school, speech therapist, occupational therapist — you name it — we’ll be there! It is important that we are all working together for the good of the child….. Because that is the only way forward.

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.