More and more kids are seeking the help of a Maths tutor to help them achieve better results at school. Kids First teacher and founder, Sonja Walker, explains how to find the right kind of tutor for your child.
I very rarely meet a parent whose gut instinct for their child’s performance in Maths is not right.
Kids usually enjoy learning about new things…but if your child’s enthusiasm for a subject like Maths slipping, that’s a sign to take notice of.
A loss of interest in Maths could signal that your child is struggling and needs help, but it also may mean that your child is bored.
That’s where a teacher or tutor can come in, because tutoring is not just for kids who are struggling with Maths, but also for those who are academically able and enjoy extra challenges.
When parents bring their children to Kids First’s teachers for Maths tutoring, they usually do so for a variety of reasons.
– Their child is struggling with the concepts being taught in the classroom. (sometimes this is because the teacher’s style doesn’t match the child’s learning style and can happen in a primary or high school classroom)
– Their child has ‘missed a step’ somewhere along the way and needs to catch up (perhaps because of an extended absence from school, a move to Australia from another country or a change in schooling system)
– Their child enjoys Maths and is good at it. (sometimes these kids are not sporty and their parents are keen to foster confidence by encouraging them to pursue opportunities like Selective Schools, Scholarship or university places)
– Their high schooler aspires to a goal in Maths. (Often students’ tertiary education options depend on achieving sound results in Maths, and a Maths tutor can make sure they are on track for entry into the courses that will qualify them for their careers)
Tutoring is one of those controversial subjects that many Australian parents have strong views on. Perhaps it is our ‘tall poppy’ syndrome that prompts people to criticise others who want to get ahead…or even just improve.
Certainly, the tutoring ‘industry’ has had its critics… and a glut of unqualified Maths and English ‘tutors’ who have no training as educators and work for cash in hand or in environments that encourage pressure and rote learning doesn’t help.
Despite all of this, there are some excellent advantages to having a child tutored in Maths ( or English for that matter) and over the years I have worked with many families who have all told me that their child’s tutor made a world of difference to their child.
Not just to their results…. but to their confidence and willingness to give new things a try.
As with anything with kids, the attitude you approach tutoring with is the key.
If tutoring is treated as a positive thing that will, without pressure or a huge amount of onerous time, make your child feel good about themselves, then it’s worth giving it a go.
Maths is a linear subject in which each new skill builds on a previously acquired one.
This means that once your child misses a lesson, becomes confused about a concept or fails to master a particular skill, it can be difficult for them to move forward.
It’s natural to hope that a child’s Maths skills will ‘click in’ at some point…. but often they don’t.
Closing knowledge ‘gaps’ when a child first starts to struggle can make a big difference to their confidence and results.
As teachers, we’d prefer to ‘catch’ a child before they are 6 to 12 months’ behind their peers so that we can build them up, teach them what they need to know and then cheer them on as they succeed.
When this happens, tutoring tends to be a short-term thing for a term or two, rather than a long-term commitment for children and their families.
The best person to ask about this is your child’s classroom teacher. If your child used to enjoy Maths but now despises it, it’s important to let the teacher know about this change in attitude and to try to uncover its cause.
The reality in many Australian classrooms is that teachers are keen to help children, but are limited by large class sizes and a lack of opportunity to give children the consistent individual help they need. If this is the case in your child’s school, a few months with a Maths tutor could be a good option to re-build your child’s skills and confidence.
Once you’ve decided to find a Maths tutor for your child, do your homework.
A qualified teacher will always be a good person to start with, as they will have the skills to assess your child.
They also have the training to adapt their teaching style to your child’s learning style and be able to provide support that is age appropriate.
While computer based programs are fun for kids, there is no substitute for a skilled professional who can break a complex concept down and explain it to your child in a way that they understand.
Remember too that most kids have access to computer programs like Mathletics and Maths Online at school…so if that’s not working as a way to support your child’s learning, the personal approach of a tutor might be a better alternative.
Think too about the reputation and longevity of the tutoring service you are considering. Are they known locally for the excellence of their work and for working in a positive way with students and parents? Do their tutors hold Working With Children Checks? Are tuition sessions offered in the safety of a centre where other adults are present? Does the service have insurance?
All of these things are worth your consideration, especially if you are thinking about inviting a stranger into you home to conduct Maths tutoring there.
Convenience is one thing, but quality and your child’s safety is also important.
If your child needs a Maths tutor, the fully qualified teachers at Kids First in Sydney’s northern beaches can help.
We offer face to face lessons after school that are fun, positive and don’t rely to computers to keep children engaged.
Our primary and high school teachers have many years of experience in Sydney classrooms and have helped hundreds of students to feel more confident about Maths.
Contact us on (02) 9938 5419 for a free 30 minute Maths Check-Up for your primary schooler…or provide your details in the private comments box below and we will contact you to chat aout your child’s needs.
© 2015 Kids First Children’s Services