By Stuart J Adams
Once you find the right tutor, it is very important to prepare your son or daughter to be in the right frame of mind so that they can get the best out of their tuition. After all, if you're going to go to the effort to make sure you've found the right tutor for them, you might as well take a few simple steps to ensure that they are ready to get the best results that they can.
There is no complicated procedure in place here; it basically comes down to making sure you speak about the idea of getting a tutor in a positive light, as though it were a reward or a special privilege. The first thing to be aware of is to make sure that you only ever speak to your child about the idea of tuition when they are in a positive state of mind. When you can see that they are already in a confident state, then is the best time to discuss the idea to get a great tutor.
Some questions you might try asking to 'warm them up' to the idea might include asking them about which teachers at school they like and don't like. When introducing the idea of a tutor, discuss the idea in a way so that it feels like a special privilege or reward, rather than a chore or a punishment. The ideal situation is where you manage to plant a seed of thought into your son or daughters mind about the excitement of having their own personal helper. If done in the right positive light, your child may even ask you or indicate that they want their own tutor. If the child feels that it is even partly their idea, then they are almost always going to have a much more positive response, and approach tuition with excitement rather than intimidation.
WHAT YOU CAN DO DO DURING THE LESSONS
Irrespective of your son or daughters expectations about meeting their new tutor for the first time, it is important that they see the experience as one that fosters encouragement, hope and excitement. It is common that even parents might feel a bit nervous about meeting a new tutor. It is important however that your child see you demonstrating a positive attitude both about your new tutor as well as to your new tutor.
To start off with, there are likely going to be lots of concerns that you'd like to discuss with the tutor. Please make sure that any 'problems' or anything at all that your child might feel insecure about are not discussed in front of them. You can always contact your tutor by phone or email to talk about these issues when your son or daughter is not present. We find that one of the most encouraging things is that when parents talk about something with the tutor that their child is proud of, whilst conversing in front of them. Even if it's not necessarily related to the areas the tutor will be covering, it is an important part of the process of getting your child to feel comfortable enough with their new tutor to 'open up' and get the most out of their tuition sessions.
WHAT YOU CAN DO AFTER THE LESSONS
It is important that the student feel a sense of 'control' over their situation, and that it is 'their tutor' not their parents tutor. As mentioned before, to get the best results, it is important to wait until your son or daughter is in a good mood before discussing anything about their tutor. When you find that they are in a positive state, it is best to ask questions about their tuition that are positively worded, or even open ended, so that they retain a sense of empowerment about the topic they are speaking about.
Examples of positively worded questions may be "so how good is it having your own tutor?" "What do you like best about your tutor?" and "What parts are starting to seem a bit easier now?" If your child seems a bit hesitant about how to respond, many parents report that using open-ended questions can be helpful so that they still feel a sense of empowerment, whereas close -ended questions can make them feel "backed into a corner."
HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE TO SEE RESULTS?
The answer to this question depends on what you're looking for. Imagine a person throws a handful of seeds in the soil with the intention of growing a tree. A short while later, one of the seeds have germinated and has started to grow into a shrub. The person looking on however does not see the tree they were expecting, and as a result abandoned their efforts before the tree had the chance to fully grow.
If your student has been struggling with a particular subject area, whether it be literacy, numeracy or even both; it's important you know how to judge whether or not 'it's working' by knowing what the signs of short term improvements are and what the signs of long term improvements are.
The first signs of improvement will generally take at least 4-8 lessons, and will manifest as a slight change in your child's attitude. The biggest hurdle to improving their skills is to first improve their confidence towards doing the things they previously believed they were no good at. Remember that it probably took many months or even years to establish the problematic mindset. If you start to see even small improvements in the way your child feels towards their schoolwork in as little as 4 -8 hours worth of tutoring, you can rest assure they are on the right track.
If you're not sure, the easiest way to tell is to pick up on subtle clues, such as their facial expressions and the tone in their voice when they are speaking about the subject. Most parents whose children go on to turn their weakness into their strengths, generally report that after the first 1-2 months, their children's attitude has gone from "I really don't like this" to at least "I'm not too keen on it but I'm not so bothered by it anymore." Then about 6 months down the track, their attitude is likely to evolve into "actually I don't mind this at all anymore" whilst the 12 month mark is likely to result in a greater expression of certainty. By the time a year is up, the student may or may not like the subject that was previously their Achilles heel, but at least the uncertainty they had about it previously will have worn away, to develop into, at very least, a comfortable understanding.
Whether or not your child is 'connecting' with their tutor is another important thing to ensure too. The best way to judge this is to see how your child appears in the hour or two leading up to the tutor's arrival. For the first few weeks, you might detect a bit of anxiety, however this may be because they are worries that they will 'disappoint' their new role model. The best way to tell if their tutor is not having much impact is when your child simply doesn't seem to care less about whether the tutor shows up or not. Any signs of anticipation, whether they be mild signs of excitement or even nervous signs of wanting to impress, are all an indication that your child is at least 'looking forward' to their arrival. If they look forward to their tutoring, they are more likely to be 'open' during the lesson, take more in and be motivated to want to get more out of it.see the Top of the Class Tutoring Sydney website.