• Laura Vida

Advice From Alison: Primary Tutor


Alison is one of Edinburgh’s most successful tutors. She has a BA in Psychology and a masters in the Anthropology of Children and Child Development. For ten years she taught at an ‘outstanding’ ‘Lead’ primary school, which trained teachers. She has been a tutor for over six years.


What are the signs that a child may need a tutor?

Negativity about a subject. But always discuss this with the teacher and your child first.


What age are your pupils?

Mostly P4 to S2. At around P4 learning starts to move from the ‘concrete’ to the ‘abstract’ and if children are not developmentally ready for this shift, they can find themselves left behind. As the teacher moves on, they feel the gap widen.


What should a parent look for in a primary tutor?

  • Teaching qualifications

  • Experience

  • PVG certification

  • References/reviews

What can a parent do to help their primary-age child at home?

Praise hard work, not results. Otherwise children may get emotional blocks.

Home-learning should be done little and often. In the car on the way to school is easiest.


In English:

  • Language exposure is key: read to your child; tell them stories orally; source audio books. Make up stories together. Children need to ‘speak it before they can write it’.

  • For early readers, focus on HFWs as well as the school reading book.

  • Always let children choose their own reading material. Comics are fine. But supplement these with other (higher quality) materials such as classics that you read to them.

  • Provide a writing desk and materials to inspire and motivate your child.

  • Boys respond better to a ‘recipe’ approach: I give them the ingredients to write and provide ample reference material. For example, the Usborne Illustrated Thesaurus or a Descriptosaurus.

In Maths:

  • Help your child learn all number facts on the Maths app ‘Hit the Button’, a brilliant resource.

  • Play Maths card games such as Four Function Snap; they motivate children to think quickly.

  • Print off worksheets at mental-arithmetic.co.uk for visual learners.

What is your big focus as a tutor?

Mental arithmetic and key number fact knowledge (tables, number bonds, measurement facts). They give children confidence and ‘number sense’. Schools are good at teaching the formal method, but don’t always focus on mental arithmetic methods.


Can I tutor my child myself?

Definitely give it a go. This totally depends on your relationship. I got a tutor for my daughter.


Is virtual tutoring ok?

With virtual it’s face-to-face which can be more intense for children. Most students prefer learning ‘in person’. I wear a mask and I follow all necessary precautions. Now I tend to do a mix of both which is great and convenient for parents too.


To contact Alison:

Email: alishipston@gmail.com Phone: 07980 871759

ALISON’S FAVOURITE RESOURCES


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