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  • Writer's pictureAlana Azzouni

Top 5 Most Common Problems With Tutoring

Learn about the top 5 most common challenges that parents face with tutoring.

If you have considered investing in a tutor for your child, with a bit of research you’ve most likely discovered some common problems with tutoring.

In this blog, we aim to give you an honest perspective on the most common problems of tutoring. We will also share some insight on how you can alleviate or avoid these problems.

A great place to start is to look at the most common reasons people seek a tutor for their child. Often enough, one’s inability to achieve their goals will be the main root of their frustrations with tutoring. During the hundreds of conversations we have had with parents seeking a tutor, we have found that there are a couple of challenges that come up most often:

  1. a simple desire to help build their child’s confidence through getting external learning support;

  2. the frustration that comes from not being able to provide educational support to their own child when they need it; and

  3. the various issues that arise from having a child with learning difficulties, and often not enough support from their school.

As well as these challenges that parents go through when their child needs support that they, or their school, simply cannot provide, many parents also feel ‘helpless’, with the desire to help their child, but the inability to do so. This can often leave parents feeling overwhelmed and unsure of what to do next.

There is no doubt that tutoring can be a great solution to overcoming these challenges, and providing a student with the confidence and ability to thrive in their own way, and achieve their learning goals. There is an innumerable amount of students who have benefited greatly from tutoring, and parents who treat tutoring as the key ingredient to their child’s development.

Nonetheless, tutoring is not always successful. While there are many parents who are raving fans of tutoring and its benefits, there are also plenty of parents prepared to share how tutoring did not help their child. Let’s look at the most common reasons for that.

What are the most common problems with tutoring?

The tutor is not the right match for your child.

Most of the time, it is the parent seeking the tutor, not the student. Right away, this may mean that the student is not entirely enthusiastic about their upcoming tutoring sessions. This is all the more reason why the tutor must be the ‘right match’ for the student. The ‘right match’ encompasses a couple of areas, including experience, qualifications, but most of all, personality.

Whilst a tutoring session is focused around achieving particular learning goals, these goals cannot be achieved without positive tutor-student relations. Studies have shown that positive tutor-student bonds have strong positive correlations with gains in intellectual engagement. Students who are able to build strong rapport with their tutors have a greater motivation to perform well academically, receive and give feedback, and communicate effectively.

The opposite, however, can even be harmful. A tutor whose personality is not one that positively influences the student can cause the student to dislike the subject or even rebel against the idea of tutoring. This can have a lasting negative impact on the student’s perspective on academic support outside of school.

Therefore, it is essential that, when engaging with a tutor, you are clear on the type of personality that your child has and the type of learning style that works well for them. We often ask parents to think about a teacher that connected well with their child and got results, and to tell us about them. Ensure that you are clear about the type of tutor you are after, whether it be someone who is more firm and clear with their expectations, or someone who has more warmth and patience. When this is done, you are most definitely able to be one step ahead of the game, and mitigate any negative attitudes that your child may have towards tutoring.

More work has been created, causing more stress.

A tutor for your child is intended to build their confidence in the given subject and improve their study habits. A good tutor will provide your child with quality education, resources and tools to support their learning, feedback and guidance to progress, as well as accountability and support. However, a good tutor will not do the work for your child.

Investing in a tutor means that your child will be investing more time and effort towards achieving their learning goals, which will have a compounding effect on their progression at school. More work isn’t necessarily ‘created’, but the work that is expected of their school is simply set out in a way to ensure your child is consistently working towards their learning goals.

Given that parents seek a tutor for their child for different reasons; some being that they need to fill learning gaps, while others would like to extend their child further; the desired amount of extra work can be discussed and decided upon at the beginning of their tutoring journey. For example, a student who is in need of support with their assessment load can expect that the work set for them outside of their tutoring sessions directly link to the work that is required of them for their assessment tasks.

To ensure that tutoring is not overwhelming your child further, provide enough background information to the tutor and communicate with them the desired level of ‘extra work’ that is reasonable for your child amongst their weekly commitments.

The results don’t come fast enough.

Although tutoring has provided many students with success in achieving their learning goals, it is not by any means a silver bullet to success. Students will not see overnight improvements in their abilities, as the skills and strategies that tutors work on with their students are skills that require time and effort. Like many things, when we do not see immediate results with tutoring, one can often feel discouraged. This is the exact moment to ensure consistency is kept. By doing this, and remaining consistent, students will continue the compounding benefits that they are gaining through their tutoring sessions.

As a rule of thumb, we expect that the first 2-3 weeks of tutoring, given that the student is seen for 1 hour per week, will involve various aspects of getting to understand the students’ preferred form of learning, as well as assessing and observing their current abilities, and making a plan to build on from there.

Depending on the specific needs of the student, and the strategies that are being implemented, some students may see more immediate results in terms of their academic ability and achievements. As each student learns and implements more strategies and skills over time, these skills tend to compound with each other. As a result, the outcomes achieved over time quite often grow exponentially.

Regardless, each tutoring student must start somewhere. If one’s goal is to immediately achieve higher marks from their school, perhaps ongoing 1:1 tutoring sessions is not the best option for them. It’s more likely that it would be best for parents and students to accept that the results they achieve from tutoring, whilst powerful and long-lasting, will take a few months to really get going, and will get better as one continues.

It’s too general

In the case of 1:1 tutoring, this doesn’t come up too often. However, group tutoring sessions, or tutoring companies that follow a specific scope and sequence or program, can pose challenges for some people. Every student is different, is on their own learning journey, and has different learning goals and needs.

The chronological age of a student should not be the defining factor on the content that is taught to them. Many students engage in tutoring in order to fill any learning gaps in their current or previous stage syllabus, or to advance to the following stage syllabus. Simply due to this reason alone, it is ideal for many parents to engage with a tutor or tutoring company that provides individualised lessons based on their child’s specific needs. This way, you can ensure that the tutor will focus on syllabus content that needs further development.

Less Time for Extracurricular and Other Activities

More often than not, parents who are engaging with a tutor also have other children who are involved in many extracurricular activities. It can be overwhelming. To be frank, the tutoring session itself usually does not take up that much time. On average, students are tutored for 1 hour per week, however, tutoring also may require parents to travel to a location for the lessons, and students to invest time completing academic activities to help them reach their goals.

Many parents are left with the question of, ‘Do we have time in our week for this?’ I’d say the main question to ask yourself is ‘What extracurricular activity is the priority for my family?’.

To mitigate this challenge, we would simply point out that we have never seen a student fail due to the extra time they are putting towards their learning. The discipline of investing a minimum of 1 hour per week to work with a 1:1 tutor is almost always a good idea. I'd also urge parents who are tight on time to engage with a tutor who travels to their home for the tutoring sessions. Yes, they exist!

There you have it - the five most common problems that parents face when engaging with a tutor. We have no doubt that there are others. While some will choose not to invest in tutoring due to these problems, many will look at ways to mitigate these challenges and make the most out of tutoring. The very aim of tutoring for any student should ensure that it provides a positive Return on Investment. A good tutoring program will deliver that. For more discussion about the best Tutoring Companies in Sydney, see our Blog “The Best Tutoring Companies in Sydney. An Honest Comparison”.

To summarise, by understanding what type of tutor would benefit your child best, and by knowing how to make the most of that support, you should be able to avoid these challenges. Being aware of the challenges and the best ways to mitigate them should help you in making the best selection.

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