My Family Care asks Charlotte: Children spend many months of the year in the classroom but some parents feel they need extra tuition during the holidays. Do children need the tuition and do they benefit from the extra help? What can parents be doing at home to make things more educational but still fun?
It's all change
Due to many ongoing changes in the National Curriculum in KS1, 2 and 3, children are expected to achieve bigger and better results than ever before. Key topics are being introduced earlier and skills like recalling times tables are now more of a military operation than the fun songs and chants of times gone by.
Many parents are still stuck in the old way of doing things, and can often be more of a hindrance than a help, therefore it is more important than ever that children are one step ahead of the times and learning new topics outside the classroom before they learn them inside.
Summer = lack of stimulation
Studies have shown that a child's progress significantly drops during the summer break, up to a jaw-dropping TWO sub-levels. So an increasing number of parents are now using some form of extra support to keep the cogs in motion in between academic years.
But in a minefield of private tutors, tuition centres, and downloadable resources and apps, where do you look? There are a plethora of options out there, but what would be best for your child? A private tutor? A tuition centre with more of a group setting for tuition?
But what should you choose?
Sometimes it doesn't feel like a choice, but more of a quick bit of Googling and going with what you think is the best option available. If you're looking for support in a more structured and formal setting similar to that of the school classroom, a tuition centre may be the answer as the cost per session is often much lower than that of a 1 to 1 tutor - other key skills such as concentration and social interaction will boost your child's motivation and willingness to take on even more work.
Many tuition centres are at the cutting-edge of pedagogical approaches to learning, and are tapping into the growing use of technology to engage children whilst educating them at the same time. This is proving popular with children and parents. Dropping your children off for a one hour session knowing they'll receive top-class tuition while you run errands is a win-win. Unsurprisingly, adapting your approach to teaching can work magic!
The Maths Factor conducted a survey with over 1,000 parents in 2014 and it found, 'the majority of parents say their children would enjoy doing maths revision and learning times tables on a computer.' This may come as a huge surprise to many, but in a world where parents are taking iPads off children as a punishment as opposed to 10 years ago when delaying a trip to the park would do the trick, it's clear to see the increased popularity in technology.
Being a tutor yourself
Regardless of whether you want to use a tutor outside the home or not, there are lots of great things that you can do during the holidays, here are some options below:
- Keep them engaged in learning, maybe using a tablet, or the conventional pen and paper. You'll know what your child enjoys, use that to your advantage
- Incorporate learning into everyday life - plan journeys together factoring in travel time, write letters, read shopping lists, and count change. These all help engage your child's skills
- Make it fun - go to the library, museum or day trip and try to both learn one new thing from that day
- Encourage scrapbooks and journals. Not only are they great tools for practising grammar and punctuation, but they are great for the memory box! These are good to dip in and out of so children don't feel like their day is consumed with work
- Developing social skills is often over-looked. Look for events in your area, plan playdates, and make socialising a big part of their day
- Repetition of previous topics covered at school - speak to the teacher before your child breaks up about the priorities for the following year
- Praise, praise, PRAISE. It's their holiday too and you'll get further if you tell them they're doing well rather than making them feel like they're struggling.
Do things together during the school holidays
Spend quality time doing things you both have an interest in - you will probably learn something new as well!
If you do decide to enlist help with tuition over the summer, it's important to look at your child and their needs before choosing private tuition or a tuition centre. Look at what's right for your child, even trial both methods, and see what your child excels at more.
Charlotte Thomas, Education Director, The Learning Factor