Alison is mum to 5-year-old Stephen and 12-year-old Emily. Her daughter, now in year 7, currently attends the MTC Maroubra Tutoring Centre. Alison sat down with us to discuss her decision to enrol her child in extracurricular tutoring, and what results she’s seen.
Kids who attend extracurricular tutoring tend to fall into two camps: those who find a particular subject or subjects difficult, and those who already excel at school but whose parents want them to compete at a high level. If your child is struggling in a particular area, one-on-one help can be beneficial because the tutor can:
- Tailor their teaching speed to your child’s progress.
- Try different teaching approaches until they find one that best suits your child’s learning style.
NAPLAN and exam preparation
Emily is strong in maths and science but was having trouble in other subjects like English and history. Alison first chose to send her to tutoring in year 3, to help prepare her for NAPLAN, then did the same in years 5 and 7.
“She was anxious when she first started because we had to go somewhere new, but once she got there and saw other kids in the same boat she was fine,” says Alison. “Going became like second nature.”
She started with group tutoring, which helped her understand the exam environment. “In year 3 they don’t know what an exam is, they don’t know how long 45 minutes takes,” Alison explains. “Emily learned not to get stuck on one question for 10 minutes and waste time but move on to the next. Tutoring taught her not only the actual content but how to take an exam. Even knowing how to fill out the little circles on the exam paper has to be taught!”
Now that she’s in year 7, Emily is enrolled in one-on-one tutoring. Even though the initial reason was to help prepare her for NAPLAN, Alison is considering keeping her enrolled afterwards to help deal with the transition from primary to high school and a more intense workload.
The benefits of extracurricular tutoring
Alison believes that Emily is more confident at school because she has a ‘bag of tricks’ her tutor has given her. “Sometimes she already knows something before they learn it in class; it’s very motivating when that happens and then she starts to like the subject more,” she says. “Em comes home with a smile on her face and says, ‘I just get it mum.’ That’s exactly what I want to hear, and it’s worth the money for me.”
Alison describes her daughter as a quiet child, not the type to put her hand up in class and ask questions or admit she doesn’t know something. But she’s comfortable asking lots of questions in a one-on-one environment.
Prior to tutoring, Emily was consistently placed in the second highest tier at school. Alison kept hearing the teachers say, ‘She’s almost in the top 10%, she’s nearly there.’ Alison believes that tutoring gave her the tools and confidence to finally make it into the top group.
“It’s funny, I talk to my friends sometimes and they say, ‘Oh my kid doesn’t like school and doesn’t study.’ But I think it’s because when they don’t understand something they don’t like it,” Alison relates. “When kids are good at something they naturally enjoy it more.
“However, you do need to give it time. You can’t think, ‘Oh NAPLAN is in 3 weeks, better do something’ – that’s not enough time. You can’t give your kid a brain transplant! You need at least a term.”
How to choose the best tutor for your child
Emily had different tutors in years 3, 5 and 7, and built a rapport with each of them. Alison has a rigorous approach to selecting the best tutor for Emily. “Personally, I want to make sure they’re not old school, not strict. I don’t want my daughter to resent seeing them,” she explains. “They have to be engaging, fresh, fun.”
Alison asks as many questions as she needs to ensure the potential tutor has the right knowledge, understands her requirements and has a plan to tackle the issues immediately.
“It’s one thing to be really smart, but it’s no use if you can’t be engaging and break that knowledge down for a student,” she says. “Ask as many questions as you can about their approach to teaching.”
Even if you ask all the right questions and get great answers, you won’t know if you’ve chosen correctly until your child attends a session and says afterwards, ‘That was great!’ or ‘They don’t get me.’ Alison believes that if Emily was saying negative things about the experience after the third session, she would pull her out and try someone different.
“Right now Em is getting tutoring only in the subjects she struggles with,” says Alison. “I listen to what she says she needs help with. I don’t need her to be above and beyond everyone else her age, I don’t think that’s necessary right now. I don’t want to add more pressure to her.
“The goal is to have a happy, well-rounded kid that’s confident to go to school, enjoys all her subjects, goes to class and doesn’t dread it.
“Yesterday she came home with a big smile on her face – she got 80% on her English essay!”
Based in Sydney’s Eastern suburbs, MTC Maroubra Tutoring Centre tutors are experienced, patient and dedicated to helping your child achieve results.
The centre is open for tutoring from:
- 5pm – 9pm Monday to Friday
- 10am – 5pm on Saturdays
One-on-one or small group sessions available. Learn more about our tutoring services or phone our Customer Care Team on 1300 232 663.