What is the right age to start looking for a tutor for you child?
The parents of children as young as 5 or 6 have been known to use private tutors to aid their children’s learning. However, some parents think of hiring a tutor at a later stage mostly to prepare their kids for exams like Eleven Plus & GCSEs. When do most of the parents actually start thinking of hiring a tutor? Is there something as right age that exist?
4 experts have answered
In short - very few children need tutors! It is a cultural phenomenon, a result of flawed educational policy and parents holding on to their own ideas regarding traditional ways of learning which is no longer suitable in an increasingly globalised world.
Government policies on education in many countries have resulted in increased pressure on children to achieve academically. Parents in return are under increased pressure to invest in the education and futures of their children and resort to private home tutoring by utilising an array of learning material and media resources as well as making use of the services offered by tutors.
From experience and observation it also appears that using the services of tutors have become a cultural phenomenon within societies such as the UK, India, Pakistan, Malaysia, South Africa and more. I don't see the same extend of tutor usage in societies where local curricula focus on whole child development and critical inquiry. Children who are exposed to a curriculum which is project based and where they learn by doing do not have such a great need for tutors. They themselves are in charge of their own learning and the focus is as much on themselves as on how they interact with one another. Holistic education that diminishes the need for tutors employ reflection and self assessment as valuable learning tools and encourage students through a variety of assessment strategies to take intellectual risks. It is all about nurturing lifelong learning - you don't need a tutor for that! Tutors are more often than not money making opportunists with little understanding of how our understanding of learning has evolved.
Too many times we see children attending schools that offer the National Curriculum of England and Wales being sent off to learning support (I am thinking of the international expat context) when they in fact just learn differently and don't need support at all - this especially pertains to kinesthetic learners who learn best by doing. Those learners thrive on systems such as the International Baccalaureate rather than local curricula that still focus too much on listening or watching rather than participating.
I definitely do not condemn tutors completely, but certainly feel that the trend has to be curbed.
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Having been in education for 40+ years and having three children of my own, I feel that any child, regardless of age, could benefit from tutoring. One of my children is profoundly gifted and talented; he had a tutor in kindergarten who was able to work with him on advanced materials, but not cause further frustration in the classroom. I have seen students start to thrive and excel in school with just a few sessions with a tutor. Remember, all tutoring is not remedial.
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I find myself in agreement with Magda, and also equally opposed, in principle, to tutoring.
In the first instance the need that many feel for tutoring has to be seen, in my view, as a failure of the education system.
There is a fundamental issue within the UK educational system, and in many other places I'm sure, which is worsening under the auspices of our current education minister. A minister that comes from an highly academic background and who is focussing education in a very academic traditional way.
As a direct result of this there will, in my opinion, be children who get left behind. Whilst fully accepting the need for certain key skills and abilities in maths and literacy, every education system, everywhere in the world has the same hierarchy of subjects, and we try to get our children to fit that hieararchy, rather than fit education to the child.
Ken Robinson, in his TED2006 speech said this: -
"Every education system on earth has the same hierarchy of subjects. Every one. Doesn't matter where you go. You'd think it would be otherwise, but it isn't. At the top are mathematics and languages, then the humanities, and the bottom are the arts. Everywhere on Earth. And in pretty much every system too, there's a hierarchy within the arts. Art and music are normally given a higher status in schools than drama and dance. There isn't an education system on the planet that teaches dance everyday to children the way we teach them mathematics. Why? Why not? I think this is rather important. I think math is very important, but so is dance. Children dance all the time if they're allowed to, we all do. We all have bodies, don't we? Did I miss a meeting? (Laughter) Truthfully, what happens is, as children grow up, we start to educate them progressively from the waist up. And then we focus on their heads. And slightly to one side."
Because of the way we educate our children, and the fact that during their time at school we are powerless to change the way they are educated, children who don't fit that mould, who learn in different ways, get left behind. They go through their education feeling like they are stupid, or dumb, and many suffer in later life as a result, unless they are lucky.
It's this then that's the crux of the matter, do we give our children the best possible chance to perform within a flawed system, given that system's frequent inability to deal with difference, or do we ignore it and hope for the best, and hope that our children find that thing they are brilliant at, that they love doing, and become successful as a result.
It's a very difficult question as a parent, when all we all we really want for our children is to be the best person they can be, at whatever it is they choose to do.
So, having written that first sentence, I find myself admitting that my 9 year old is currently being tutored for the 11-plus.
He's a bright kid, incredibly talented in multiple ways and I don't really have any concerns about his ability to be successful, but I also want to ensure, in a highly competitive environment, where the schools he himself wishes to go to are highly selective, that he has the best possible chance to succeed, but without pressure or stress. I'm fortunate to have a family friend who offers tutoring services, so he is being tutored once a week, simply to ensure he's as comfortable and familiar with the tests as he can be.
I'm comfortable with it because as parents we aren't placing great pressures or stress on him to perform, he's enjoying the tutoring process and his love of learning means he doesn't see it as a chore.
Having spoken to our friend though she has related tales of incredibly pushy parents, whose children she often feels very sorry for.
That's the ugly side of tutoring and if I felt for one second my son was being pressured in a way he found stressful I'd stop without a moments thought.
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The need for a tutor is an individual decision, so before we damn the intervention of additional educational support for a child on moral principles, let's consider when it might be needed. How about:
- When a child has special talents that deserve fostering
- When a child has been ill and has missed a lot of schooling
- When a child is unable to attend school due to social reasons e.g. they are caring for an adult or have been bullied and need some time away from the playground
- When a child has come from another school and is badly behind the rest of his class
As to what age is it needed, that should be a decision that a qualified teacher is best placed to make. The most important thing is what is right for that individual child.