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Tips On How To Choose The Right Tutor For Your Child

Demand from parents has increased year on year for tutors to give children an extra boost towards passing the 11 plus or Common Entrance exams through after school tuition or intensive holiday courses. This has led to an explosion in the tutor market with individual tutors often having waiting lists for their services and names of good tutors being spoken in hushed tones amongst parents at the school gates. Just how does a parent evaluate a potential tutor to make sure that their money is invested wisely?

  • Make sure that the tutor you are engaging is experienced in the specific area that you are looking for. For example, the Buckinghamshire 11 plus is very individual in its structure, so it is essential to engage a tutor with experience and detailed knowledge, as well as proven success record, in this area. Likewise the Common Entrance exams, non-verbal reasoning, 11 plus Maths or English, GCSE, A level, IB or Oxbridge, if these are areas in which you are looking for support.
  • Have you noticed, through asking your child about their teachers at school, if they appear to engage more through learning subjects with male or female teachers? This may be worth bearing in mind in your choice of tutor.
  • Ask what materials they will be using for the tuition and make certain that these are suitable for your individual objectives.
  • Ask what teaching styles will be used. Will your child spend most of the time in test conditions sitting test papers, or will the tutor engage with them to make the learning fun and interesting?
  • Ask for details of a couple of parents who have used their services recently, so you can talk to them to gain references.
  • Be wary of published ‘success rates’. These are of course an important factor to bear in mind, but it is just as important that the tutoring style and personality of the tutor will inspire and enthuse your child and the way he or she likes to learn. Tutoring should rarely be an extension of the classroom at school. Tutors are experienced in engaging children on aone-to-one or small group basis, so there should be far more interaction within the learning process.
  • If engaging the services of a tutor via a tutor agency. Make sure you know which tutor you will be getting and that this will always be the same one, so that they can build a working relationship with your child. Likewise, if it does not work out with the tutor they recommend ask if there is the possibility to change to another one.
  • Ask yourself whether you think your child is better suited to steady support from a tutor once a week over time or if you feel their personality better suits an intensive course during the school holidays, just before the examination is due to take place.
  • Monitor the tutoring sessions by popping in once in a while to reassure yourself that your child is engaged with the tutor and that they appear to be enthused about their learning.

A few thoughts about online tutoring or practice tests

  • Remember that the online market is UK-Wide so the tests may not be specific enough to the test or examination for which your child is preparing.
  • Consider the format of online tests and tutoring. If the actual test they are preparing for is handwritten or multiple choice using a pencil, ask yourself if completing practice versions online using a PC is reinforcing the right message for your child.
  • Find a contact number and ring and ask the same questions as you would of a tutor who was coming to your home. Ask to see sample materials, what test or syllabus they are written for and what the refund policy is if you do not find what you have bought to be relevant.