Child receiving tutoring

There is a wealth of articles demonstrating the need for a tutor in particular circumstances. However, regular tutoring can make an improvement to your child’s learning as a complement to their standard education. In fact, regular tutoring spread over the year may be much more effective than the alternative. So do you need a tutor? Are you asking yourself does tutoring actually help? Then read on to learn the benefits of tutoring services.

The obvious

There are some obvious reasons why a child might need a tutor:

  • An extended absence and they need to catch up
  • Are they finding a particular subject hard? (Maths, English, Science etc.)
  • Exams are coming up and they need to practice

However, if you only ever engage a tutor at these times it can be an additional source of stress, a break from the normal, and the child may view it as negative and even work against it.

Examining the less obvious

Education can be very competitive. Entry into grammar schools, colleges, and universities are the obvious “pinch points” of your child’s education. However, there is also competition on a day-to-day basis for the teacher’s attention, competition for time to complete the material, and the subtle competition between students. Most of all though there is competition in your child’s environment for their attention.

Learning is best accomplished when the focus is completely on the task at hand. This is the state of “Flow“; a state reached when presented with a challenging task and the skills to meet the challenge.

The concept of flow

Working within the state of flow has huge advantages for productivity, recall, and learning. It is described as being “In the zone”. Here, learning is fast and fun rather than arduous or difficult. Learning is done for learning’s sake alone, rather than trying to meet some expectations of an exam, teacher, or parent.

In order to work in the state of flow, your child needs the work to be challenging and to have the skills necessary to meet that challenge. The challenges must always be within your child’s grasp but still challenging enough to give satisfaction on their completion.

Mental state in terms of challenge level and skill level, according to Csikszentmihalyi's flow model.

How does tutoring help students?

Teachers will provide progressively difficult exercises for exactly this reason. However, a Teacher must attempt to craft a set of progressively difficult exercises for a (many would say unreasonably…) large groups of children. This is not an easy task at all! The state of flow will never be reached if the work is too hard. If the work is too easy, then the process becomes a slog. It is only when the child is prepared to meet the challenge through familiarity but finds completion rewarding does learning progresses quickly and easily.

A tutor can prepare your child for the work ahead to overcome the initial hurdles. As they are working on a one-to-one basis they can match the exercises to your child’s ability so your child becomes familiar with the feeling of success that comes from completion and builds an appreciation of learning within the state of flow.

Little and often

Getting ahead of the material and getting enjoyment from learning in the state of flow is a positive feedback cycle. The work is more enjoyable and interesting so learning comes faster, which means getting to more interesting and enjoyable topics is easier.

Regular tutoring is widely used in Asia, with students typically tutored several nights per week. However, Tutoring is on the rise in Europe, growing at a rate of 7% per year in some countries.

So, do you need a tutor? Yes! Even a couple of hours a week is enough to lift a child into the positive feedback cycle that comes with flow. A big hit of tutoring only at the pinch points may work, but it will be hard on your child and hard on your wallet! We have plenty more blog posts, highlighting the benefits of online tutoring and how to choose the right online tutor.