Students can face many challenges throughout their education journey.
Some they bring to school and some that are bought on by their relationship to the school environment.
It is believed that up to 20% of children have learning difficulties that can impact their progress through the school system. These can range from medical or neurological conditions through to being on the autism spectrum, attention deficit disorder and/or dyslexia.
Kindergarten children can find the transition to school an overwhelming one. Some young children lack the early listening and verbal skills required to be an engaged learner. If children are missing early literacy and numeracy concepts they continue to fall behind beyond kindergarten.
Secondary school comes with a fast moving curriculum. A lack of study skills and the fact that students have to be more independent learners in high school means coping with the challenges of high school becomes difficult. As achieving better grades becomes more important, the stress of passing exams becomes greater.
A good tutor can pin point specific learning needs and gaps and provide appropriate and specific remediation or strategies to overcome those gaps, according to Janina Hamilton, founder and principal of Flying Colours Learning Centre in Newcastle, NSW.
“Teachers are very busy people and have a packed curriculum to get through so can’t always go back to concepts once they’ve been taught,” Ms Hamilton said.
“A good tutor will spend as much time as is necessary to ensure the student understands a concept before moving on.”
Janina lists the following characteristics of a good tutor:
- One that has qualifications that suit the needs and/or level of the student and is using up to date teaching techniques
- One that has the ability to build solid relationships with their students quickly. This involves relating to children, being patient and having developed communication skills to get the most out of each student.
- One that has a passion for learning and teaching.
- One that personalises learning specifically to a child’s interests, learning style, strengths and weaknesses.
- One that is able to challenge students who are working above their class level
- One that keeps track of the school scope and sequence so tutoring reinforces the concepts being taught at school.
- One that provides regular feedback to students and parents regarding their progress.
- One that provides engaging learning experiences not solely worksheets or computer based work.
Janina understands it can be a complex and emotional journey for parents when seeking the right tutor for their child. She suggests the following steps as a guide:
- Make sure the person you hire is qualified, has a working with children check and a location that suits.
- Quite often children with additional needs learn in a very different way.
- If your child has additional needs find a tutor that specialises or has had experience teaching children with additional needs. Be as clear as you can about what the needs of your child are so that the tutor can judge if they are the right tutor for your child.
- If possible, have a meeting with the tutor and take your child along. Take note of how the tutor interacts with your child. Do they get down to their level? Does the tutor show genuine interest in your child? Is your child happy and comfortable in their surroundings?
- Ask the tutor if they complete a pre-assessment on your child before teaching them.
- For high school students, ask the tutor if they provide extra support during exam times.
- Use family, friends and social media for recommendations for a quality tutor. Where applicable, check out the service’s website to determine whether that service is the best fit for your child. Research any testimonials of a service on their website or on google. Truly happy customers take the time to review a service.
“As a specialised tutor in teaching children who struggle to read and spell, I have seen many success stories from tutoring,” Ms Hamilton said.
Janina Hamilton has been teaching for over 20 years and holds a Bachelor Teaching/Social Science (Early Childhood/Primary) and Post Graduate Certificate Educational Studies (Computers). She is an MSL therapist. Associate intensive training in the MSL approach to teaching phonology (qualification through the Australian Dylsexia Association).