Tutoring for a Child in Primary School30/08/2023 / Online Tutoring
An Outline of Tutoring
If qualified teachers are providing all the tutoring at Principal Tutors, you might be wondering what the difference is between teaching and tutoring, especially as the two terms are often used interchangeably.
Whilst a teacher usually works in a classroom teaching up to 30 children at once, a tutor usually works one to one, focusing on one learner at a time. However, qualified teachers make the best tutors, and your child’s tutoring session will draw together the strengths that a teacher brings as a classroom practitioner and those a tutor brings in focusing the learning on your child’s specific needs.
The tutoring that will occur in your child’s lesson is much more than simply reviewing learning that has happened in school (although that will form a part of it). Sessions may include:
- Baseline assessments to establish areas that need revision
- Completing practice questions to consolidate new learning
- Reading for comprehension and vocabulary
- Applying existing skills to more challenging questions
- Problem solving
- Role play of educational scenarios
- Conversation practice
- Reviewing modelled examples
- Completing exam type questions
- Targeted revision
- Targeted feedback
- Extension work in topics beyond the curriculum
- Timed practice of exam papers
It will be up to you as the parent and the tutor to agree what the focus of the lessons will be.
Parents are usually happy to let the tutor take responsibility for the lessons after they have indicated any areas of difficulty. Recent school reports or notes from conversations with your child’s schoolteacher can form a useful starting point. However, the tutor will also be able to conduct their own assessments within the first few lessons and will establish for themselves where the focus ought to be. Time constraints will play a role too. A pupil who is four weeks away from an 11+ exam will require very different lessons to a pupil starting Year 4 with two years of tuition ahead of them.
Whilst a few lessons before an exam can undoubtedly make a difference, a tutor who works with your child over a longer period will undeniably have a more significant impact. You should have complete confidence that you can leave your child’s education in the hands of a professional and qualified tutor and look forward to the positive results that will come with time.
Primary education runs from Reception which children join aged 4 or 5, through to Year 6, which children leave aged 11.
Tutoring in Key Stage 1
Key Stage 1 covers ages 4 to 7 years old. It is up to the parents to decide the age at which they feel their child is old enough to engage in professional tuition. All tuition at Principal Tutors is conducted online, so a child must be capable of engaging with the learning independently. However, tutors that teach at this level will be experienced in working with children at this age and understand the need for time-limited, focused and high-energy learning.
Particular areas that tutors can focus on at this stage include:
- Literacy related – reading, comprehension, spelling and writing
- Numeracy related – counting, calculations, problem-solving
- Special needs intervention
Whilst the skills focus at KS1 is usually literacy or numeracy related, a tutor will take account of a child’s interests and can tailor the topics to relate to what they are doing at school (a history focus, for example) or something the child enjoys.
As explored in our blog ‘The benefits of online tutoring?‘, the earlier you intervene with a child who is finding their school work difficult, the more likely they are to get back on track with their learning and continue to meet their expected progress.
Tutoring in Key Stage 2
KS2 is the primary phase from Year 3 to Year 6 (ages 7 – 11). Developing literacy and numeracy skills (English and Maths) will still be the main teaching focus in school. However, children may also have school lessons in science, art, music, history, geography, RE, PE and modern languages.
Many schools teach these subjects via a termly ‘topic’, such as ‘The Romans’ and will use that topic as a basis through which to explore the subjects for that term. This can be a creative way to ensure that the core subjects are being covered whilst allowing for as much time as can be spared spent on the rest of the curriculum.
Areas your child finds more challenging are likely to become more evident in KS2. You may have a report from the school that suggests your child is below the expected target for their age group, or you may recognise that your child is finding a subject difficult.
English and maths tuition remains the cornerstone of what can be offered for your child at KS2. Except for a few specialist subjects (modern foreign languages and music, for example), the skills they require for English and maths will be at the foundation of everything they learn and are required to study. As a result, tutoring given for KS2 is almost exclusively for maths and English.
The National Curriculum provides a statutory (compulsory) list of topics each year group should cover. This will naturally build on what the child has studied in previous years. It is unfortunately all too common for a child who does not meet the target for their year group to fall further and further behind as each year passes, never having the opportunity to consolidate and regain confidence in the methods needed.
Of course, the school and class teacher should do everything possible to ensure that children cover the required curriculum content for maths and stay on target. In reality, large class sizes, squeezed lesson time and challenging and complex behaviour in the classroom can gradually erode opportunities for consolidation and revision.
Maths tutoring for KS2 can be of great benefit to your child in the following ways:
- A tutor can complete ongoing assessments with your child to ensure that they identify areas that need consolidating or reteaching.
- Whilst parental support with homework is hugely beneficial, parents can often be mystified by current methods used to teach maths. These can be quite different from the methods they were taught in school. A maths tutor will be clear on the current methods used and can support a child in developing a clear strategy for approaching different question types.
- Some children who find maths difficult require far more modelling of examples than a teacher in school might allocate the time for. A tutor will model a correct method as often as required without the child feeling discouraged by the repetition compared to what their peers may require.
- Furthermore, some children require many more practice questions than might be allocated in school. Each child is different. For example, a child might need 10 lessons on the same topic to ensure it is truly mastered. Whilst they might not require 10 whole lessons on the topic, they might need to revisit it ten times to answer a question without intervention. For a topic such as fractions, success in such a fundamental concept would have a lasting positive impact on many future topics.
- A good tutor can spot patterns in a child’s errors and work towards a lasting solution rather than a quick fix. There might be an underlying misunderstanding that needs addressing, unclear working out or a tendency to rush and/or guess. This can be remedied to the benefit of many other areas.
- A maths tutor can also stretch a pupil beyond what they might be able to cover in school. This might involve pre-teaching them a topic that will come up in the future so they are better prepared when it comes up in school. They can provide extended opportunities for word problems and scenarios that develop problem-solving skills.
- Most importantly, a maths tutor can work at your child’s pace. Time can be spent ensuring the foundation skills are fully embedded. Your child will enjoy celebrating the progress they have made as well as feeling more confident in the lessons at school.
Alongside maths, English tuition is the most popular and beneficial tuition available for children in KS2. Like maths, there is a National Curriculum for English which your child will follow at school. Also like maths, children face many challenges at school that create barriers to optimal progress and learning.
The ability to read and comprehend at an appropriate level will not only determine how your child does in English but will affect how they access almost all other subjects. There is a substantial degree of literacy required in both maths and science. All humanity subjects (history and geography, for example) require comprehension and writing to demonstrate understanding.
In KS2, children work with fiction and non-fiction texts of increasing difficulty. They must answer questions of factual recall, inference, writer’s technique, character, tone and purpose. In part, this is in gradual preparation for SATS (see below) but is also a preface to what they will be required to eventually do at GCSE. This skill requires constant reinforcement and practice, but even the best classrooms will likely fall short of what will best prepare a pupil for a lifetime of reading and understanding.
Writing in KS2 progresses from forming words and phrases in shorter tasks to a much wider array of tasks. Pupils are expected to be able to write in various styles and forms and incorporate stylistic and persuasive techniques in their writing. If a child finds writing difficult (for any number of reasons), much focused and quality time will be required to encourage progress. This can be very hard to find during a busy school day.
Beneficial English tuition at KS2 is likely to contain elements of the following:
- Reading for meaning and enjoyment. If you can spend time reading with your child, you will appreciate the value even short reading sessions can bring. 10 minutes at the start of the lesson reading an exciting book that is more challenging than a child could access on their own provides valuable work on comprehension, vocabulary, and fostering a love for independent reading.
- Reading for comprehension. A tutor will select appropriately challenging texts and guide the pupil through first reading and understanding them, then answering questions to test a range of skills. A good tutor knows what a child will typically find challenging and can model answers, create a supportive framework and provide opportunities for incremental progress.
- Writing work. As already stated, writing is the most complex skill in English, requiring a combination of motor skills, spelling, vocabulary, creativity and an understanding of the task’s requirements. Handwriting practice does not usually form part of an online tutoring session, as progress in this skill best takes place offline (see next point). All other aspects of writing skills can be developed and encouraged by an experienced tutor. Exciting topics can be chosen together to increase pupil engagement in the work.
- Handwriting. As children spend more time working on electronic devices, handwriting will likely occur only in academic settings. Because handwriting practice is best done with pencil and paper (despite advances in software and hardware for electronic writing such as the Apple Pencil), your English tutor can advise you on books and material for practice and review photographs of your child’s writing for tailored advice.
- Punctuation, spelling and grammar work. All children benefit from activities that consolidate and revise SPAG (spelling, punctuation and grammar). Since the most recent redevelopment of the National Curriculum, SPAG has been taught and assessed much more overtly than previously. An English tutor can teach, reteach and provide questions for practice and revision and strategies for remembering rules for spelling and grammar that pupils find difficult to remember.
Other tutoring at KS2 – the 11+, SATs and preparing for Secondary
The 11+ exam is a formal assessment that pupils in some parts of the country take for entry into selective grammar schools.
This assessment is not compulsory by any means. If you want your child to have the opportunity for a place at a selective school, it is your responsibility as a parent to enter them for the assessment and prepare them for the exam content. Most parents will also consider getting a professional 11+ tutor to prepare their child for the exam, as the assessment content is often significantly different or more advanced than what their child will be doing in school.
If you require tutoring for an 11+ exam, Principal Tutors have an extensive guide to support you through the process.
SATs and Preparing for Secondary School
At the end of KS2, in Year 6, pupils in England currently take SATs assessments in both English and maths. Whilst there is no requirement for pupils to do additional preparation for the assessments, many parents find that it provides a focus for consolidating the curriculum content for English and maths. It is also an opportunity to review learning and identify areas that need further revision and practice before moving to KS3.
The SATs are the final academic stage of your child’s time at primary school. They provide a valuable benchmark of their progress so far and whether they are progressing as expected in line with their age group. The summer period between the SATs and the start of Year 7 (secondary school) is another opportunity where a maths or English curriculum tutor can ensure that your child is confident with all the key skills before they embark on the next phase of their education.
At Principal Tutors, all of our tutors are qualified teachers with expertise in the UK, Primary National Curriculum. You’ll get feedback after every single session to help you feel in control of your child’s learning and progress, and you can even download resources and request a recording of your tutoring session to help you remember key points later.
To learn how primary tutoring can help your child give us a call on 0800 772 0974 or you can request a tutor using our online form.
We are so happy with our 11+ tutor, she is always very professional and approachable, and she is helping my son to gain in confidence for his grammar school entrance exams next term.
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