June 2021 - Ask the Teacher
Q. When is the best time to introduce tuition? Should I start now to prepare for August or wait until the new school year? Should I continue my child’s tuition through the summer holidays or should I stop and resume in August?
A. Lydia Scaltsas: Experienced Primary Teacher & Private Tutor
As we begin the final month of the school year, these are common questions I receive both by current and prospective students. So, when is the best time to start tuition and what role will this play for the child?
To answer the questions above, we must first explain what tuition is which will guide us to what tuition can do for your child. Historically, tuition has been seen as serving one specific purpose; additional support for children who are not ‘on track’. In my previous ‘Ask the Teacher’ I discussed this notion of ‘on track’ and how problematic this is. Although we strive to see each child as an individual on their own personal learning journey, we still assess all children against one specific set of criteria to determine if they are achieving. Paired with this, then, is the idea that private tuition is an additional support service available to those who require one-to-one focussed attention in order to meet standardised benchmarks.
Whilst this is still relevant and many students who seek out tuition come for just this reason, it is not the only reason; and for me it is not the most important reason either. We need to begin to expand our understanding of what tuition is and does because it can be so much more than it has been perceived to be up until now.
When I founded ‘LS Tuition’, one of my missions was, and is still, to redefine the ‘target audience’ that primary school tuition has been historically allotted so that it pays justice to the potential impact tuition has. Tuition is not just for the child who needs additional support with academic content; tuition is for nourishing the learner. Someone with experience in education and of child development needs to encourage and guide the learner in their exploration of a particular interest or a specific inclination they have towards a curricular area that excites their curiosity. Or, to encourage and guide a learner who achieves academically, but needs to alter their view of themselves as a learner because they have low self-confidence and self-esteem. In some cases, it is even to help a child transform from ‘student’ to ‘learner’. Or to motivate a child that is achieving and can be challenged further. Tuition is for the learner who simply wants a weekly appointment to review specific areas, to ask questions and generally, to gain all the benefits that come from having a one-to-one focussed session with an experienced professional. Tuition can be short-term, for the child who needs support with exam preparation, including learning skills, structures and methodologies for exam success; but it can also be long-term, to nourish curiosity and cultivate creativity and individual thought.
These are all emerging reasons for which students come to me for tuition. Just as children attend sports training, music clubs, art classes, etc., where long-term coaching cultivates skill-level, so too supporting a learner in developing into their own sense of self, and in advancing their educational understanding takes time, individual focus and repeated ‘practice’.
How does Tuition Benefit?
Having now begun to understand what tuition is and the potential it has, we can begin to address the questions whether children should continue with or begin their tuition during the summer holidays.
Children thrive on routine and structure. While I advocate for balance in children’s lives and for engaging in a variety of activities, maintaining a pattern is essential for reaching a goal. This is particularly important for children who find change difficult to manage and benefit from an ongoing routine. ‘Pattern and structure’ maintain the consistency children need to feel safe, confident and settled; integration back to school is then a much easier transition after the holiday period comes to an end.
After all, there is also only so much 'fun' to be had! Many children feel they have had enough and become bored during the holidays so planned, purposeful and familiar activities can be very helpful.
Let us also not forget the most important point...
Learning should be fun so that children WANT to learn!
Learning should not be seen as separate from ‘fun’. The end goal of any quality educator is to enable your children to feel the excitement of education and be intrinsically motivated to engage in education as autonomous learners. I mean this: your children should be encouraged to see tuition as they would any other sports club or camp they might attend over the summer holidays. In all my tuition relationships my aim is to personalise every learning plan specifically to each individual child and to develop a collaborative ethos in which the child and I are both working together to achieve mutual goals. We become friends that share news; we discuss the ongoing learning plan together while the child is always given ample opportunity to tell me what they would like to read, write or learn etc. I run a special ‘club’, designed specifically for your child! And this is what all tuition businesses should strive to provide for their students.
So, to answer the questions above, ‘Do your children need tuition over the summer holidays or in general?’ No, of course they do not, but having tuition will bring them terrific additional benefits both in terms of their individual journey as learners and with regard to routine and structure; both these underpin children’s mental health as they grow and develop. So ‘no’, they do not need tuition nor do they need additional extra-curricular activities; but all these things would add to your child’s experience of life, for life; and given such opportunity, I would always tell me ‘yes’.
Lydia Scaltsas: Experienced Primary Teacher & Private Tutor
Graduated from University of Strathclyde with a 1st Class Honors in BA (Hons) Primary Education.
Registered with the General Teaching Council (GTCS)
Owner and Private Tutor at LS Tuition: lydias-tuition.co.uk
Instagram: @lydias_tuition www.instagram.com/lydias_tuition
Facebook: @LSTuition www.facebook.com/LSTuition