When and how should I hire a Private Tutor?

How to book a tutor… for the right reasons

In light of the media preying on a ‘dark side’ of the tutoring industry and highlighting the impact to the mental health of over-tutored pupils, we pose the question… how do parents strike the balance between supporting and challenging students with their academics whilst ensuring they aren’t under too much pressure?

Telegraph headlines 2017-2020:

  • “the tutoring industry is a dark beast, feeding off the insecurity of parents.”
  • “Leading girls’ schools scrap entrance exams amid mental health concerns.”
  • “Forget working mum guilt – why ‘tutor guilt’ is the new parenting anxiety.”

Striking the right balance 

The key to giving your child access to beneficial, empowering tuition (as opposed to the hot-housing the UK media loves to focus on) starts with the process you go through to find a private tutor. Bespoke Tuition, an elite tutoring agency with branches in London and Hong Kong, outlines a 10-step approach to help you ensure that any home tuition you organise for your child is balanced and subsequently enriching and long-lasting. 

1. Ask yourself why you are getting a Tutor 

DO NOT hire a Tutor if:

  • your child is utterly burnt out and fatigued after school and anything additional would overwhelm 
  • the tuition is going to compromise your child’s favourite extra-curricular hobby
  • every other parent at the school gates seems to have engaged a tutor 
  • dinner party chat has scare-mongered you into needing a tutor
  • the goal is UK school entrance preparation for an academically selective school where your child will only cope if tutored and hand-held throughout their time at the new school
  • you do not believe a tutor to be well-matched in teaching style or personality fit (the best tutoring agencies will personally match a tutor to a student based on age, level, objectives, personality and teaching approach)

DO consider hiring a Tutor if your child:

  • is demotivated or lacks confidence/resilience/motivation at school
  • does not relate well to a schoolteacher which is impacting their performance
  • attends a school that does not offer sufficiently high standards or challenge
  • may benefit from a mentor figure who doesn’t judge them for making mistakes 
  • struggles to focus and maintain attention at school and/or with homework 
  • undermines potential in exams due to poor executive function, revision skills or exam technique
  • would benefit from a positive, motivating and inspiring ‘non-parent’ role model 
  • has an exam or test such as 7+, 11+ or 13+ for which the current school doesn’t help to prepare
  • has an academic goal beyond school such as a curriculum change or Oxbridge entrance
  • you feel that your child’s school does not match with your own education philosophy 
  • continuously turns to you for extra help that you are unable to provide
  • has been advised to have extra support by: schoolteacher/ EdPsych/SEN
  • lacks key study/thinking skills: time management, critical thinking, problem- solving 

2. Discuss with your child why you are getting a Tutor 

One of the most valuable outcomes of engaging one of the best tutoring agencies to source an academic mentor for a student is a boost in confidence, resilience and resolve. On the flip-side, self-esteem can plummet if students believe their parents are getting them a tutor because they are not good enough or they are ‘different’ in a negative way from their peers. Before you even start looking for (never mind booking) a tutor, we would recommend you talk to your child; ask them which topics or skills they struggle with the most at school and which areas they might benefit from a boost in the most. Students need to see and understand how tutoring can be a ‘value add’ as opposed to ‘a remedy’. In an ideal world, schoolteachers would have the time to explain why every topic they teach is relevant, and in doing so, motivate students. You can motivate your children by helping them to understand why tutoring might be of benefit to them personally.

Some reasons why children might see getting a Tutor as a positive could be to: 

  • give them the undivided attention they don’t receive at school
  • allow them to ask ‘silly questions’ which they don’t feel they can at school 
  • offer them their very own personal supporter to confide in who is neither teacher nor parent 
  • have someone who shares the same hobbies and can help them find ‘Maths’ fun 
  • have a ‘cool’ role model who has achieved things in life the student aspires to achieve

3. Hobbies & Mindfulness 

One of the worst things you could do to turn your child against tutoring would be to schedule a weekly tutorial session that clashes with their favourite activity be it karate, football, ballet or robotics! All children need an outlet and regular pursuit of hobbies is essential to their mental wellbeing and healthy development as individuals. Physical exercise and fresh air are also key to a child’s mental health and attention span so put time-limits on any screen-use and be sure to factor in regular outdoor activities. Bespoke Tuition runs a once weekly Mindfulness programme over a 6 week course (as well as one-off sessions) delivered by a trained specialist. Our Mindfulness coach, Edward (BA, MA, PGCE), offers a free 30 minute telephone consultation to further explain the content of this programme. Contact Us

4. Know your child’s limits 

Never push a student to exhaustion. We all have our breaking point and the most important thing you can do for a school student is to help foster a love of learning and encourage academic inquisitiveness. Overdoing anything in life saps the enjoyment from it so always make sure your child has ample space in their weekly schedule ‘to be a child’. Mental fatigue or burnout will gradually take its toll and could have seriously detrimental long term impact, so before you book a tutor immediately after tennis, after music, after mandarin on a Monday evening, ask yourself if you are being fair. You will know your child the best in terms of selecting an optimum time for a tutorial based on fatigue levels, attention span and other activities. A Saturday morning session when a pupil

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