Why choose a private tutor for your family?

The value of private tutoring has been the subject of many debates in recent months. 

Many have argued that parents who engage private tutors for their children are pushy guardians who are so results driven that they are in some way ruining their children’s early years through pressure and expectation.  For some this is true.  Yet, private tutors can fulfil a key role, ensuring that children for whom mainstream schooling is not an option, receive a first class education in its broadest sense.

Private tutors are employed for a variety of reasons. Gone are the days of “stay at home families”, with the father working locally or commuting to the city before returning home each evening for 40+ years.  In a world that has become increasingly transient, work takes many people all over the world for long periods of time.  Children will often travel too, becoming nomadic global citizens.  Whilst there are an increasing number of top class international schools dotted around the world, this is not always seen as a suitable or desirable option.  For some children, enrolling in a new school every year or so, can be a disruption to both education and social stability.  Time taken to settle into a new community can set a child back significantly at a time when they are at their most educationally impressionable.  A tutor is able to ensure continuity in a child’s education, exploiting opportunities in new locations, searching for local educational experiences and overseeing the child’s progress.

For some families mainstream schools are seen to provide a narrow, results-driven education where children are assessed according to their ability to recall facts, write essays and jump through the required hoops.  Education can be so much more than this when it is provided by a live-in tutor who becomes, in many ways, one of the family.  An education where children are encouraged to learn by following their interests, ensures that children become enthusiastic lifelong learners, always wanting to ask questions and discover more.  Home-schooling has always been viewed as an unorthodox approach to education but with the correct private tutor, it can be the most perfect educational fit for many children.

A major feature of today’s education system is that schools are set in league tables.  Parents are in a difficult position with competition for places to top private schools at a premium and demand for grammar school places at an all time high.  How are parents to ensure that their children stand the best possible chance?   Employing a private tutor who has a thorough understanding of the educational curriculum and the demands of entrance exams, can ensure that a child is fully prepared and supported for the rigours of the admissions process. 

Tutoring also fills another gap in the life of children.  The majority of families with dependent children have two working parents, while there are also approximately 2 million families headed by a lone parent, of whom 56 per cent are working.  With such financial pressures on families for parents to work hard to pay bills, it is unsurprising that the traditional role of the mother as educational support has in many cases faded away.  Parents who arrive home late in the evening are not in a position to sit down to help with homework and consolidate educational understanding.  This role can be filled by a private tutor who is able to provide the additional support that most children need at home.

As a teacher, I often talk to parents who are confused about ‘modern methods’ of mathematics and are fearful of showing their child the ‘wrong’ way to approach a sum.  Today the emphasis is on the understanding of the maths, rather than following a system in a blind fashion.  Children are shown many different ways to work through a problem to find their solution and this is a real sticking point for many children.  By working alongside a qualified and experienced teacher, children can develop their understanding, gain in confidence and then be in a strong position to benefit from school lessons. 

“Shouldn’t a child be able to gain this understanding in their own classroom lessons?” Well of course as teachers this is our aim but working in a one-to-one situation with a private tutor is clearly advantageous to any child and will enable support to be offered in a focused and thorough manner. 

As with all educational choices parents have to make, employing a private tutor can only succeed when time is spent in ensuring that the right tutor is chosen.  A tutor who understands how a child works best, can successfully engage with a pupil and who can gain their trust is an educational gift for any child.

About the Author

Emma Swanson is an experienced classroom teacher, having graduated from Cambridge University to pursue a career in education.  Emma has taught in many private schools, heading departments at every stage of the Primary School.  Her experience in senior management in a UK Preparatory School and in a leading International School in Dubai, make her well placed to provide educational consultancy to parents.  Emma is also a mother of 2 young children, living near Ascot, Berkshire.