In previous blogs, we have covered the question of when you should and shouldn’t tutor your child and, if you decide to do so, what you should look for in a tutor. At this time of year, parents’ thoughts turn to the summer holidays and whether a child will need tutoring support during that long break. In principle, the summer holidays should be a time of play and relaxation for school children. However, whilst allowing time for that essential break, there are some circumstances when tutoring would greatly benefit a child over the summer.
When should you consider summer tutoring?
Here are some situations that would warrant it:
Facing 11+ state selective entrance exams
If your child is sitting the state selective 11+ entry exams this autumn, then having some tutoring over the summer would be advisable. It depends on the school they are sitting for, the progress your child is making and their starting point.
Each school will have their own exams; you will need to know which examining body is writing the exams, which subjects are being tested and which methods are being used. This means you can plan your summer tutoring requirements with an experienced tutor. Every child should take a holiday from school work, but depending on the readiness of your child, it may be necessary to include some revision, practice and learning during the summer to get them ready for the 11+.
Has your child been unwell during the year, or spent time at home from school due to other circumstances? If so, then the summer holidays provide a lovely, non-pressurised time to work with a tutor. They can catch up with any curriculum they’ve missed, ready for the new school year. A lot can be achieved while your child is feeling relaxed and fresh, making it easy to persuade them to do some work that will make their life easier once they return to school.
Preventing academic regression
Children can be prone to forgetting what they’ve learned and lose their learning momentum during the long holidays. With a tutor’s help, they can be engaged in project-based learning during the holidays without it feeling like work at all! Children from 6 years old often enjoy researching and developing their knowledge about topics of interest, such as dinosaurs. They can learn about dinosaurs online and through books, go on visits to museums and then create project books with pictures, stories and facts. This approach can be used to integrate spelling support, or just to reinforce a child’s love of learning.
Project tutoring is also particularly useful for children with processing and executive functioning conditions, as it teaches them to work in specific ways and organise their thinking and writing. It builds up children’s confidence and readiness to go back to school, and it’s also great fun!
Getting ready for GCSEs
Some children really benefit from ‘getting ahead’ between years 10 and 11, before the final lead-up to their GCSEs, especially in subjects that they find more challenging. In the relaxed atmosphere of the summer break, in privacy, a tutor can help them achieve a lot in a relatively short space of time. I thoroughly recommend using parts of the summer for pre-GCSE preparation, without having to squeeze it in between school and homework. Good tutors can help iron out any misunderstandings and areas of weakness. They will provide practice and feedback in the areas that need the most attention, to build a student’s confidence and set them up for success.
When shouldn’t you use summer tutoring?
If your child is doing as well as they are capable of at school, there is probably no need to tutor them over the summer. Simply encourage them to read widely and it might also be fun to start some family project work of your own. If they have finished the term exhausted, burnt out from exams or feeling flat from working hard all year, they deserve a proper break and a chance to be children. In this case, if they would still benefit from extra help, then defer any tutoring until much later in the summer break and prioritise rest and relaxation.
Whether to tutor is ultimately your decision and it must be based on your individual child’s needs and circumstances. Tutoring should simply be a positive, helpful support – part of the work hard, play hard approach to childhood.