Choosing a Tutor
In Sydney, the tutoring market is saturated, and I’ve experienced my fair share of eye rolling at mentioning that I run yet another tutoring place. ‘Why?’ they ask. ‘Isn’t there already too much coaching now?’. They’re right. There is more than enough coaching to go around. When it comes to selective schools, the story is particularly troubling. I have lost count of the number of parents we’ve turned away after they call and request coaching to ensure their child gets into a selective school. The story of our own beginning is all over the website, and if you aren’t yet sure why we exist, here and here are probably good places to start :-).
In the mean-time, how do you begin the process of finding the right help for your child? If you’ve decided a tutor is for you, then how do you wade through the mess of private tutoring, group tutoring, classes, programs and online options available?
Individual or Group Tutoring?
Do I want a private tutor or do I want something a bit more social? Does my child learn best in a group or on their own?
For the majority of children, extra help will be a benefit, no matter what the format is. Naturally, there are pros and cons to each option. Private tutoring that’s completely 1:1 will give your child 100% of attention, 100% of the time (hopefully!). Group tutoring will mean a little less special attention, but it gives your child the skills to learn in a setting like a classroom, and encourages them to learn independent work as well. As much as we think children will thrive best with a 1:1 ratio, there aren’t that many children who love it more than sharing a tutor. Having an adult watch everything you do can be intimidating, and, unless that tutor has some pretty exceptional skills, it can get boring. Older children tend to perform better in this style, and it may be more suitable for HSC students, who have a clear goal and need focused, targeted attention that covers their particular assignments, rather than general skills.
Most of our readers know that Confidence Boost Tutoring approaches tutoring in pairs, or 1:1 until a pair can be found. Because the kids we work with find school tricky in some way, paired tutoring has an incredible impact on our students. They still get very focused attention, they still have to learn to work independently at times, they still get a social element, but they can’t fly under the radar or get side-tracked like they might in a group. I could go on and on about paired tutoring, but it’s not the only option out there in the big wide world of tutoring.
First of all, consider your child’s particular needs. If they want to excel at maths and have already covered their class work, a group approach with a set maths program might be the go. Creative writing workshops can also be great to get the ideas flowing. For older students with higher goals or very niche subjects, a private tutor is often a great option. Just remember to keep your mind open to an alternative option. Most tutors are happy to chat to you about how they approach their sessions, and that information can be a lot more useful than the number of children working with your child!
Home Tutoring or a Tutoring Centre?
Again, Confidence Boost Tutoring has a particular style of tutoring, and we work from our venues. This is for three reasons: our resources are all in one place, we have options of your child’s tutor is away or they need a change, and we can keep an eye on the quality of our tutoring. For the children we work with, getting out of the house and into a new environment is a big deal, and it works.
Some children, particularly older students, do benefit from a home tutor. These are children who are time poor, have no access to transport, or can’t commit to getting somewhere. Often, home tutors are slightly cheaper as well (a story for another day!). Before hiring a home tutor, make sure they have a working with children check, and that sessions are done in the open, while another person is home. Alternatively, make a session time at a nearby library.
Personally, I hate the term ‘centre’ because it doesn’t feel anything like the fun, comfortable, pleasant place we tutor. That said, plenty of centres are happy to adopt the term! It can be great to get out of the house, and going on-site means access to other children, tutors and materials.
No, you don’t need tutoring
Can we say that again? You don’t need tutoring.
If you feel like tutoring is the right course of action for you, great! We work with a very small percentage of the school population – the kids who really do need some extra help. One of the most troubling conversations I have had so far was talking to a Mum who wanted tutoring for her child because the rest of the class had tutors too. Luckily, I was able to help that Mum see that her son was performing exactly where he should, and although we’d be happy to have fun with him and help him improve his skills, a tutor really wasn’t necessary. It’s sad that coaching has become so prolific in Sydney. I have always seen tutoring as an option for children who find they aren’t able to keep up. To see so many children spending hours a week doing ‘extra school’ is really worrying. If you are going to take on tutoring, stick to an hour a week for primary school, and two max for high school. Building skills is great, as long as your child is feeling good and enjoying the rest of their life as well.