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Archive for January, 2013

Be a better tutor in 2013

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

At 121 Home Tutors we think it’s important to find ways to continually improve our tutoring skills. This is about more than keeping up with general educational changes or a new syllabus. It’s about how we can be the best possible tutor so we can help students improve their own skills and confidence.  You can be a good tutor if you know your subject but a great tutor needs to love their subject and have skills such as good organisation and the ability to build relationships quickly. We’ve gathered together some top tips to help you be the best tutor possible this year.

  • If you are considering being a tutor then you have to think about how much you enjoy your subject area. It’s important that you are really enthused about what you tutor and can pass this onto a student. Why? Because the students you encounter will often have a bad relationship with the subject you are teaching so you need to find ways to turn them back onto it and want to learn again.
  • Know your own skills. Don’t fall into the trap of offering tutoring in areas you are weak in, you have to be honest about this and know your strengths.
  • Agree fees (how much and how you will be paid), tutoring times (and length) and location (somewhere quiet) before you start any tutoring with a student. It’s a good idea to also have this in writing.
  • Be clear about what is expected of you and your student. You need to establish this very early in tutoring (and revisit it often).  It’s a good idea to sit down with your student (and parents if appropriate) and talk about what they want to get out of tutoring, what they expect from a tutor and what you are able to offer.
  • Be prepared to talk about how you tutor and the methods you use. If you are new to tutoring then you need to think about this.
  • There are certain things you have to be prepared to do as a tutor – you have to turn up on time and where you said you would, you need to be organised and able to keep records and paperwork in order. You have to be able to keep your student (and their parents) informed of their progress.
  • You will have different relationships with different students but you have to be prepared to work on them and always keep them professional.
  • If tutoring is likely to continue for some time then it’s good to agree up front how many months it might be for (so you can plan your own workload). You can also then talk about booking holidays and what will happen over school holidays. At this stage you also need to discuss what happens if you or your student want to cancel one session or end a tutoring agreement.
  • Get planning – every tutoring session will need some thought about structure, content and what your student will get out of it.
  • Find ways to establish rapport quickly and get to know your student – ask lots of questions, especially open ones which start a conversation and encourage your student to think.  Remember to give your student enough time to form an answer and respond. Be prepared to wait and listen. Make sure your student knows they can ask you questions.
  • Get into the habit of praising. There will be times when you have to correct but try to find the good parts of what your student is doing.
  • Apart from teaching the subject you should find ways of teaching your student the skills they need to succeed – from essay writing, to analytical thinking and providing evidence to back up their arguments. Don’t presume a student has these skills and even if they do they can always benefit from refreshing.
  • Give structured, quality, feedback regularly both verbally and in writing. Check your student is making progress and meeting the objectives you set at the beginning of tutoring. You also need to make sure parents receive feedback as well. As well as monitoring your student you need to make sure you are doing a good job, ask for feedback from your student and parents and be prepared to take criticism on board.

If you are interested in private one to one tutoring in Manchester and Cheshire, whether you have primary, secondary, A Level or industry experience then we’d like to hear from you. You can contact us here.


Are home schooled children getting the support they need?

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

As parents we know the quality of schools across the UK varies but those who home school and want to access official support face the same inequality.  A report by the Commons Select Committee, released just before Christmas, into the assistance for those who homeschooled showed there was considerable variation in the support available to parents and students.

Many of the students we tutor are home schooled and we offer subject specific tutoring to parents and their children when they feel they need that extra level of knowledge. We often find that when students hit secondary school that the depth of subject knowledge needed is beyond some parents and that’s where we can step in. But what we hear from parents is the same thing that parents stated in the report – that when they needed to access wider systems, such as when it came to their children sitting exams, the process was often difficult.

One parent reported they had to drive their child 200 miles to sit a GCSE exam.  It is estimated there are between 20,000 and 80,000 home educated children in the UK and for each child to get the education they are entitled to they need regular and ongoing support both from their parents or educators in the home and from the systems around them.  One of the main issues seems to be that the people supporting those who home schooled are often based in local authority or council teams that deal with welfare and attendance problems – therefore putting home schooling into a ‘problem’ category when it isn’t.  Let’s hope the committee report is the start of changes and a more positive view of home schooling.

If you’d like to know more about home schooling and private tuition support contact 121 Home Tutors. We cover Manchester and Cheshire.