What age should a child start tuition?
When considering private tuition for their child, common questions asked by parents include: ‘would private tuition benefit my child?’ and, if so, ‘when is the best age to start?’
With some schools introducing entrance exams for children as young as three or four years old, the pressure to arrange private tuition at an early age is on the increase. However, is private tuition for such young children really beneficial? Similarly, is private academic tuition for a teenager with a packed schedule of after-school activities effective?
This post touches on age and other key factors to consider when arranging private tuition for a child.
How young is too young?
From Mahatma Gandhi to Henry Ford, many encourage us to approach learning as a life-long journey. But should this involve private tuition so early on in life? The answer is complex.
For children aged eight and under, education is often referred to as a period of ‘early childhood development’. During this period, children are still in the process of developing their physical, socio-emotional, cognitive and motor skills. Play is therefore a crucial educational tool for this age group. Effective teaching is typically highly interactive, allowing the child to explore and construct knowledge herself/himself within a nurturing environment. Given these developmental needs during a child’s early years, most reputable tutors are unlikely to accept private academic tuition requests for children of four years of age and under.
For children aged five and above, private tuition will often be more engaging if tutors instil an element of fun into classes via games and activities. For example, at this age, learning via the use of physical objects or props and songs can be effective, while for older children reaching their teens, word games, puzzles and role-play can be more appropriate.
That said, teaching is definitely not a “one size fits all” process; a student’s age only provides a basic guide as to how lessons should be designed and structured. For instance, it goes without saying that using Lego bricks as lesson props is unlikely to be as popular with teenagers as it is with five-year-olds. Beyond the student’s age, multiple factors affect a student’s ability to learn. For instance, what is/are their favourite learning style(s)?The tuition should also take account of the student’s personality (their multiple intelligences), their willingness to attend tuition and the frequency and length of sessions. Finally, without opportunities for rest and relaxation, any student will struggle to learn effectively.
Parents should take all these points into consideration when considering whether private tuition is a worthwhile investment for their child.
Beyond age: learning styles
Understanding what a student enjoys doing can help tutors assess their natural learning style(s). Their interests and hobbies may suggest (s)he is predominantly a visual learner. In this case, image-led activities and worksheets with visuals depicting key learning points should form a significant part of the private tuition. Others students may be aural learners and may retain information more effectively through listening and reciting. Kinaesthetic learners may prefer role-play and other learning exercises integrating physical activity. Alternatively, students may be reading or writing-based learners who respond well to interactions with text.
Students will often have a natural inclination towards one or more learning styles. Tutors should use initial lessons to explore a range of verbal, aural, kinaesthetic and visual activities with students early on. Discussing this at the outset with parents or carers, and, crucially, with the student, will provide a good steer on how to structure lessons and reach learning goals.
If you have any questions about private tuition for your child and or you are considering becoming a private tutor, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 3731 0731.