For all the good it offers, there’s still some basic misunderstandings about tutoring and how it helps. Some of these misconceptions fall into the category of an understandable mistake, such as the belief that tutors have an infinite amount of time available to them because they are not part of the traditional schooling system. This is untrue, but it is just one of many misconceptions. Here’s some others:
1. Tutoring is only for struggling students
One of the biggest misconceptions is that tutoring is only for struggling students. In fact, there are a lot of reasons for students to take extra lessons. These can be drawn from the desire to catch up, maintain progress, or to advance in their studies. From these three major areas, student subgoals can be aims such as the desire to pass tests, improve core reading and writing skills, or even take on more challenging material.
2. Tutoring is only for young students
In the same way that people need tutoring for different reasons, there are also people who use tutoring at different life stages. It is never too late to get a tutor. Where young children develop fundamental skills like reading and writing, mature students might seek to ramp up neglected skills at a certain stage in order to get a promotion or to enter a course.
3. Tutoring is only for homework help
Tutoring is not simply used to help with homework and to get a pass, but to help children develop skills that allow them to achieve success in the classroom and beyond. Important traits such as critical thinking and problem solving are honed in a tutor’s classroom which helps build the confidence to tackle any concept or question. Tutoring also builds better study habits and skills like time management which are crucial to future academic success.
4. Tutoring is too generic to be helpful
Students are not all the same. A good tutor will know instinctively how to tailor the lesson to the individual so that every student can be successful. One of the most important things about tutoring is that it allows students to progress at their own pace. Every student has unique needs and this must be taken into account. There is no universal approach that is successful every time.
5. A child learns more in a classroom than with a private tutor
The experience of learning in a classroom is very different from one-on-one tutoring. There are advantages to both. A classroom can provide the environment in which a child can build social skills such as making friends and understanding social norms. Tutoring has its own advantages, such as the ability to take things slowly without the pressure of instant mastery.
6. One to one tuition is better than group tuition
Not necessarily so! Some children find one to one tuition intense as they feel under the microscope and often fare better in a group situation. Furthermore, group tuition lends itself to a wider variety of learning opportunities, such as team games and group discussion where children can bounce ideas and concepts off each other. If the group is small enough and managed well, then children will make progress. An experienced tutor will still be able to identify and tailor individual learning and ensure progress.
7. It’s hard to find a good tutor
Like any service you source with no prior experience, it can be hard to find a good tutor. Not simply a tutor, but a good one. Therefore, parents need to be organised and must do some research ahead of time. You may find that the most experienced tutors have a waiting list, so it is important to contact tutors to find out availability. Otherwise, a quick google search will reveal many options. You are advised to perform background checks, and to do them ahead of time.
Having done your research, one of the most important aspects is to see whether the tutor has a good rapport with your child. If your child finds it difficult to strike up a relationship with the tutor, then it can hinder learning and progression. Get your child’s feedback on whether they think the tutor is right for them.
8. Tutoring is only for exams or admissions tests
Many parents come to the realisation that their child needs academic help as their children are heading towards higher levels of education or the end of key stage exams. Gaps in children’s learning are usually exposed as material becomes harder. If you feel that your child is struggling, then intervention is better sooner rather than later. Tuition shouldn’t be forever, and you may find that once the gaps have been plugged early on that your child doesn’t need additional help specifically for the exams. Tuition helps to foster independent learning skills and develop the confidence to explore, question and solve- the sooner these skills can be developed, the better.
9. A private tutor is less experienced
Many tutors come to the field after a long career in education. Whatever route they have taken, many have a deep love of teaching, and they understand that children learn at different rates. These tutors understand just as well how to prepare a student for school work, class assignments and final exams. Often their knowledge comes from their own frustration with the shortfalls of the mainstream educational system.
But like everything in life, it is important to realise that not everyone has the best intentions, so it is a good idea to always check the references of the people you are working with very closely.
10. No need to do work outside of tutoring
A common misunderstanding is that children being tutored do not need to do any extra work outside of the tutoring space. Although tutoring can give children an extra boost, it is not a replacement for independent work—it is just one part of a student’s armoury.
Students retain skills better if they apply what they have learned in tutoring. This produces better long term results. Tutoring is not a replacement for studying. In order to be most effective, students should use tutoring as a tool to build upon their independent study. There is no shortcut to putting in the hard work to entrench the mastery of concepts
11. Tutors just give answers
Tutoring is much more than just giving the answers, it teaches children how to learn, among so many other things. It ensures that students fully understand the material and are building the problem-solving skills needed to find answers to any questions themselves. When students ask questions, it gives the tutor a chance to diagnose gaps in their understanding, which helps them set prompting exercises.
12. One session will clear up all questions
Tutoring is a process, and only through repeated sessions do tutors diagnose particular gaps in knowledge, or any unhelpful beliefs based around their ability, that a student has. It also takes time to build trust between student and tutor. Students take a while to feel comfortable with the tutor and in the space.
13. Tutoring guarantees a pass with an A
There can be no guarantee of this. Whilst tutoring does improve broad outcomes without doubt, to guarantee an A is not realistic in all cases. It remains important for students themselves to learn independently, and this will give tutoring the best chance to get the most out of the foundations already laid.
Tutoring is a very helpful aid to a range of students. It can be useful for students who have fallen behind, as well as those who are doing well but who want to get further ahead. Parents must prepare ahead of time to find out the best tutor in a nearby area who can develop a great rapport with their child. Lastly, the students themselves need to continue to be prepared and to open their minds and hearts to what is often a very helpful tutor experience.