The discourse on tutoring suggests that it’s the domain of the sharp-elbowed middle classes. It suggests that their primary aim is to elbow their children into the best schools by drilling them in preparation for those dreaded 11+ exams.
Whilst this may be true to some extent, parents spanning the entire socio-economic spectrum, seek tutoring for a number of reasons. Some parents, keen to get their children into the few grammar schools left, pay for tutoring to ‘coach’ their children to pass the 11+. Others seek tutoring to fill the gaps left (real or perceived) by their child’s school teachers. Then there are those who take a keen interest in their child’s education but lack the knowledge or confidence to personally provide the support their child needs.
The common denominator is that all parents who seek tutoring see education as being of paramount importance. Tutoring comes with a price tag; anything up to £60 per hour. Since the middle classes are more likely to have the disposable income to afford that price tag, they make more use of paid tutoring by default.
Of course there isn’t anything wrong with paying for your child to be tutored. Clearly you have their best interest at heart and you are in a fortunate position being able to afford tutoring. My only reservation is that some parents employ a tutor then detach themselves from being involved in their child’s education. Clearly this approach is inadvisable. Less well-off parents who yearn to give their child that extra support can still do so without necessarily having to pay for tutoring.
The key is to be fully aware of what your child is learning at school. Some schools run termly sessions where they outline what your child will be covering that term. If you are unable to attend those sessions due to work commitments, the information is usually posted on the school’s website. Armed with that information, you can then start reading up on those particular topics so that you are familiar with any work your child brings home. Over time, you will find that you have the confidence to answer questions your child may have on any particular topics. In the long-term, you should be able to provide activities which would reinforce what they are learning at school.
You may be thinking ‘’that’s easier said than done.’’ After all you may be tired following a hard day’s work or you may still feel that you lack the required knowledge or skills to support your child. The latter sentiment tends to revolve around numeracy and literacy because both may now be taught in ways which are unfamiliar to you. For example your child might come home using terms such as ‘frontal adverbials’, ‘phonemes’ or ‘partitioning.’ Please do not be intimidated by such terms.
Again, the starting point is the school. Many run sessions in numeracy and literacy to help you get to grips with what your child is learning in these two crucial subjects. During these sessions you are usually able to observe your child during a mini-lesson and you will have a chance to ask the teacher for any clarification. The main drawback about those sessions is that they are usually held during working hours. However, there are still ways you can support your child even if you can’t attend the parents’ support sessions. Remember, caring about your child’s education is more than half the battle. That motivation will propel you to do whatever it takes to support them.
Schools are turning to technology to make learning fun for their pupils. Many use a platform called Education City particularly, for the younger ones. They work their way through numeracy and literacy amongst other things. Your child will be given their own login details to enable them to access their area on the platform from home. Of course, allow your child to work independently but you should also participate, simultaneously supporting your child and brushing up on your knowledge.If your child’s school does not offer Education City or any other platform or if you prefer a platform more geared towards developing your child’s reading skills, then Reading Egg is an excellent resource.With the help of primary school teachers, they have developed a reading programme aimed at children from 3 -13 years old.They offer a subscription service but you can get started by taking a free trial to see how your child gets on. You can find out more from their website: www.readingeggs.co.uk
If you would like to get to grips with phonics, The Parent’s Survival Guide to Phonics & Spelling is an excellent resource created by a former head teacher of a primary school. It gives you a gentle introduction to terminology such as graphemes, phonemes and split digraphs and gives you practical examples of how to put them into use.
If you lack the confidence to support your child with Numeracy, The Parent’s Survival Guide to Maths Homework is another excellent resource and is written by the same author of The Parent’s Survival Guide to Phonics & Spelling.It gives you an overview of how maths is taught at school today and helps to demystify any fears you may have.
Help your Child with Literacy provides ample support for parents who lack the confidence to help their child with their literacy school work. This resource is aimed at parents of 3-7 years olds. It walks you through what your child is doing at school and what they should achieve at particular ages. There is also excellent advice on how to create the right time and situations to encourage reading and writing at home.
Help your Child with Numeracy is the counterpart to Help your Child with Literacy. This resources is also aimed at parents of 3-7 year olds. It is a colourful and easy-to-follow guide to enable you to gain the confidence to support your child with maths.
If your aim is to get your child to sit the 11+ exams but don’t wish to employ a tutor, there are several guides for parents which will give them the knowledge to provide that vital support to their child:
Bond 11+: The Bond Parents’ Guide to 11+
This title provides a very accessible introduction to anyone who is new to 11+ and give advice on how to minimise the stress for your child. It is split into four highly informative and practical parts.
Understanding the 11+ : Gives you an explanation of the 11 + process and lets you know the subjects your child will be assessed in based on the school or local education authority.
Assessing your Child: this section shows you how to assess your child’s abilities and provides placement tests in Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning, Maths & English. There is also a useful test to help you to assess your child’s reading age.
Preparing for the Exam: this part of the book gives you advice on the best time to prepare your child for the exams, along with ideas on how to prepare realistic learning plans.
Managing the Post-Exam Process: this section gives you invaluable advice on how to manage the post-exam process. Crucially it features invaluable advice on how to support your child if the fail their entrance exam and how to make an appeal.
The Official Parents’ Guide to the 11+: Essential Information, Advice & Strategies for success
This guide is published by GL Assessment who develop and produce the actual 11+ papers which the majority of candidates will sit. So it’s safe to say they know what they are talking about!! It comes in two accessible parts:
Part one helps to demystify the 11+ process. It explains the selection process and shows you different ways to approach the exams. Crucially, this section also explores whether the 11+ represents the right choice educationally for your child.
Part two gives you strategies to help your child to develop the skills required to pass the 11+. This section also features advice on helping your child to plan their learning and how to enhance their test techniques.
You may choose to pay for tutoring or you may support your child yourself. Regardless of the route you take, your child is fortunate enough to have parents who value education and wish to give them a life-long gift.
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