Not every primary school teacher would choose to tutor over the summer holidays. Yet this is exactly what Lydia did in 2020. She saw there was a need and she wanted to help. By the autumn, she had such a following that she decided to tutor full-time via her own virtual learning space.
I decided to find out some of the secrets to Lydia’s success.
What is your ethos?
Not everyone can instil real enthusiasm for learning. A child must feel valued and understood. As a tutor, I prioritise health and wellbeing above all. And I take time to get to know my tutees, so they feel valued and cared for as individuals. My aim is always to build confidence and support children in developing a sense of self-belief and independence. I think this is why my tutees make such rapid progress.
How do you tailor learning to the individual child?
The first step is to speak to the parent or carer to find out what their goals are for the child. During the first session I then assess a child’s strengths and weaknesses (in Numeracy and Literacy) against national benchmarks. Depending on the age of the child, I might be assessing phonetic awareness, comprehension skills, number sense or problem solving. I then plan to plug the gaps and accentuate any strengths. This first session is also an opportunity to find out about a child’s personality and interests, which strongly inform my planning.
Can you describe your methodology?
I believe learning should have a meaningful context and that it should be fun. So, having determined a child’s interests, resources are absolutely key. In upper primary I teach Literacy through novel study. Students choose from a selection of up to eight books. This book then forms a basis for developing comprehension and writing skills through creative activities. For example, one child created a board game based on Roald Dahl’s ‘Matilda’. This allowed us to explore themes in detail whilst developing all sorts of reading and writing skills.
For Maths I always incorporate plenty of games such as ‘Four in a Row’ or ‘Snakes and Ladders’ (for younger children). These can easily be played and adapted online. For lower primary, I’ll incorporate singing and dancing, as well as the odd phonics video. I don’t believe in a dry, worksheet-based approach. But publishers such as Schofield and Sims are useful for assessment or the occasional exercise.
Have parents now embraced virtual learning?
All of my parents elected to switch to the virtual learning platform during lockdown. And having witnessed the benefits, many have expressed a preference for it. Unlike Zoom or Skype, the virtual classroom ‘Learn Cube’ was designed for teaching. It’s innovative, accessible and engaging, meaning that lessons are varied and highly interactive.
What are the benefits of the virtual classroom?
It recreates real-life conditions. The student and tutor can see and hear each other whilst both having access to the same interactive workspace.
Both student and teacher have access to the same documents so they can collaborate in real time by reading together or working through Maths problems.
The ‘pointer’ feature acts like a human finger, directing the student’s attention to specific parts of a resource.
All manner of resources (vidoes, PowerPoints etc.) can be quickly uploaded, so lessons are varied and engaging. Pace is particularly crucial for young learners.
A range of accessible classroom tools (pens, shapes, rulers, erasers etc.) allow the student and teacher to write and draw on the screen.
Can parents/children try out the virtual classroom before the first session?
Of course. I offer a free 15-minute tutorial in using the online classroom. Afterwards parents/tutees have a further hour to play around in the classroom and explore the features at their own pace!
How do you provide feedback to carers?
Most parents opt to receive feedback in the last 5 minutes of each session. But they are also welcome to contact me by phone or email. If parents are unavailable to speak, I send a detailed progress report by email.
Do you provide homework?
I do believe learning should be reinforced. So I create tailored learning packs for children which are emailed or delivered in person. This is all part of the service. But homework is by no means compulsory and will depend on a child’s other commitments and parental preferences.
Lydia’s Recommended Resources:
“Lydia is highly organised and experienced. She has a lovely way with our daughter, empowering her and getting straight to the teaching material that will have the greatest impact on her performance and confidence.”
“Superb teacher! Engaging and well-structured lessons. Tremendous ability to spot every student’s individual level and learning needs. Our girls look forward to every lesson.”
“My son went from not confident with reading and not enjoying it to completely the opposite within six weeks of working with Lydia.