How do I know if my child needs a tutor? A guide for parents.

Last Updated: 15 Apr 24
Student struggling in a science class. Would this child benefit form tuition?

A report from The Sutton Trust estimates that at least a quarter of all children in the UK receive home tuition at some point in their education (this figure rises to more than 40% of children in London).

The report even goes on to talk through why these parents have gotten a private tutor for their child:

  • 47% received tuition to boost their general education over time
  • 38% received tuition to improve their grades for an upcoming exam
  • 15% received tuition to pass a school entrance exam

The Sutton Trust asks an important question: If 1 in 4 children are being tutored are the other children at a disadvantage? Should every family consider private tuition?

Not necessarily. While we, as a tutoring company, would obviously like to increase the awareness and adoption of private tutoring – we recognise that it is not for everyone!

Our quick guide below outlines some signs that may point to a tutor being beneficial to your child.


Seven signs your child could benefit from a tutor

1. Your child regularly struggles with their homework

If your child is regularly struggling with, hiding, or skipping their homework, it's a good sign they are falling behind or are bored with their studies. This problem worsens with time as poor time management sets in and children build up a mountain of work.

2. Your child has fallen behind in one specific subject

Sometimes, it can be hard to catch up, especially if there is a fundamental skill that your child just hasn't understood/mastered. The rest of the class has got it, and the teacher has moved on to more complex topics. Your child is now disadvantaged and may start disconnecting from the subject, falling into lower classes and grades.

3. Your child has low confidence or is shy in school (but not elsewhere)

Suppose your child is a chatterbox at home or has no problem asking their friends and relatives endless questions. In that case, you might be surprised when you hear from their teacher that they are quiet in class or are reluctant to ask or answer questions. This lack of confidence is a sign that they are uncomfortable with what they have learned so far and could benefit from tutoring to build these core skills and improve their confidence.

4. You suspect or know your child has a learning disability

Schools will provide additional support for children with learning disabilities. Still, many parents report it isn't enough to help them keep up with their classmates. SEN-experienced tutors are trained to tutor various learning disabilities, and funding may be available for different conditions.

5. Your child is a high achiever and ahead of their class

While many think tutoring is only for children who need to catch up, the opposite is often the case. Many gifted children grow bored with the slow pace of school and can eventually show behavioural problems as that bored energy turns elsewhere. A tutor can work with a child to explore new topics and subjects, pushing their boundaries and reigniting their love of learning.

6. Your child has a high-stakes exam coming up and is not sure of passing

Whether it's their GCSEs, A-Levels or a school entrance exam – competition is fierce for children, and they must achieve a minimum standard to get to the next level. If they are performing below that level and need a boost, short-term tutoring has been shown to help boost grades in the run-up to an exam.

7. Your child has had to take extended time off school

Missing school is sometimes necessary due to illness or a family emergency. However, missed attendance can lead to problems as children miss being taught fundamental skills that are not revisited in the classroom again. Tutoring can be used during the absence itself to slow down the learning gap or can be used effectively when they return to school to help bridge that gap.


Spotting these signs

These signs can be very different for different age groups. We recommend reading our other guide on 'When should my child see a tutor?' to understand better how tutors can help different-aged children.

As a parent, some of these signs will be easier to spot than others, though, and you may instinctively feel that your child needs a tutor (especially if you are reading this blog). That said, if you are still unsure, you can do the following:

Ask your child's teacher

Your child's schoolteacher should know their educational needs best and may mention to you at a parent's evening or similar that they could benefit from tuition. This will usually be linked to one of the signs above – but they are an extra way to validate your suspicions.

Ask your child

Nobody knows your child as they know themselves. They may be struggling or bored at school but managing to keep themselves treading water. If your child starts talking about tutoring, take time to discuss the options with them, and explore why they feel they need a tutor. In these discussions, you should hear at least one of the above signs mentioned.


Next steps to finding a tutor

Once you’ve identified that your child may need a tutor, the next question is whether a tutor is the right choice and where to find a good one that suits your child’s needs.

Not all tutors are equal, which is why we’ve created the following guides and tools to help you in your search:

Finally, if you haven't already, make sure to discuss the idea of tutoring with your child directly. This shouldn't be forced on them, but an agreement between you that a tutor is a good idea and will help them improve or develop in specific areas.

Remember to reinforce that they are not in trouble and that the tutor is not a punishment but a reward that should be an enjoyable experience for them. Also, remember to revisit this conversation once the tutor starts to ensure they enjoy the experience.

If they are not, the tutor may be a poor fit.

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