Private tuition continues to rise in popularity as the public school system crumbles. Hung up with irrelevances, political correctness and hampered by too-large classes, inadequately-trained teachers and a lack of discipline, it is a nettle that few would choose to grasp. Private tuition, for those who can afford it (and it doesn't need to be prohibitively expensive) can provide a way for your student to achieve their potential and this article is all about getting the best out of the teacher and the lesson.
Here are ten simple steps you should follow:
When choosing a tutor
Tell the teacher what the student is looking to achieve from the private tuition. Having done that, ask the tutor how they see the best way to reach that goal - a good tutor will be full of ideas, a bad tutor will flounder.
If the lesson is to take place at your home, you need to get proof of the tutor's address and collect all other contact details. A good way of verifying a postal address is to insist on posting directions to your home then phone to see that they have arrived.
At the time of the first lesson:
You have a duty to identify who is coming into contact with your child. Before they meet the student, ask to see proof of identity - eg Social Security Number, Driving Licence, Passport etc. Say that you need this information for the 'contract'. If the tutor is unhappy about this, end the matter there and then.
Tell the tutor where you will be for the duration of the lesson. This should be in an adjacent room with the door between left ajar. A good tutor will be relieved - he or she would accept nothing less and most certainly will not be offended.
Keep your location as matter-of-fact as possible. Although the student's wellbeing is all-important, it is vital that the student learns to trust the tutor which they will not do if you make too big a deal of being on-hand.
Private tuition should take place in a living room, dining room or study - anywhere with a quality table and chairs and good lighting. A bedroom is not acceptable partly because of connotations and partly because the furniture is unlikely to be adequate.
During the tutoring generally:
Go in unannounced about half-way through the lesson to offer a cup of tea or coffee - that way you can see everything is OK. For an older student, have a pre-arranged code so that they can privately tell you 'thumbs-up' or 'thumbs-down'. It is a rare tutor who will not be pleased to see a parent offering a hot drink - talking is thirsty work.
Go into the room again about five minutes before the scheduled end and ask what has been done, what progress made and what should be done in-between this and the next lesson. Have the correct money on hand - do not waste this precious time trying to find change or a pen to write a cheque. Do not expect the tutor to stay on beyond the allotted time - a good one will have another student to go to and it is not right that they should be delayed.
After the tutor has gone:
Once the tutor has left, ask the student in detail about the lesson. This both reinforces what they have learnt and the fact that progress has been made - something which they may need to remember when they lose confidence at school.
We hope these few simple and logical tips will help you get the best out of your private tuition.