Benefits of a private maths tutor over classroom learning
So you've pondered long and hard about hiring a private maths tutor for your child. They've been having a few issues at school, and even though you know you could probably help them, there's that 'emotional' thing going on, and you'd prefer a calm household.
"But hang on!" says your husband. "What about the cost? It can get pretty pricey over time, and there's no guarantee it'll make any difference. Why aren't the teachers doing their job? That's precisely why our child goes to school, yet here we are, considering spending a large sum on the services of a private maths tutor! "
And so the argument goes...
It's a valid argument. You wouldn't send your car for repairs, only to hire another independent mechanic to correct mistakes or to improve on the work already done. So what's the difference?
'Learning' isn't an exact science.
You can't teach a topic in one particular way, using one specific method, and know for sure that every student will make the same, measurable amount of progress - if any progress at all.
Academics have argued about this since 'education' became a thing - right back to Ancient Greek times and most likely well before.
The truth is, there are pros and cons to classroom learning, and there are pros and cons to hiring a private maths tutor too.
So what are the benefits of hiring a private maths tutor?
Advantages to Classroom Learning
Specifically, if you're learning within a group situation you have the following advantages:
1. Peer learning and collaboration - other students have a unique contribution to make to your learning, from the perspective of someone 'in the same boat', a perspective the teacher can never have again.
2. Pressure - or should we call that 'encouragement'?! For some, the competitive nature of a group situation is a good thing, something that drives them on to do well.
3. Monitoring - schools have rigorous monitoring procedures in to ensure your child is getting the best teaching.
There are lots more, of course, that's just a sample.
But it can be these same advantages that can lead to their downfall! And then inevitably to parents seeking out a private maths tutor.
Disadvantages to Classroom Learning
Let's take no. 1 for a start. While peer learning is a mighty powerful concept, it can only work in the right circumstances. What if your child is sitting with someone who shows them the wrong concept?
What if they're paired up with a trouble-maker? What if your child learns the wrong mathematical method?
This is especially dangerous in maths, as one concept usually leads to another one, and a misunderstanding of the first can have catastrophic consequences on the second.
Now let's look at no. 2. The pressure we speak of needs to be delicately balanced between encouragement, friendly competition and the polar opposites of hostility and stress.
That's a lot for a classroom teacher to contend with, and I would venture that it's impossible to influence all of the many interactions within the average class.
Finally, no. 3. Few would argue that for a school to monitor teachers isn't a good thing. Except perhaps, for teachers!
The increasing stress loaded upon their teaching 'performance' can easily be picked up by sensitive students, and most people realise that genuine, deep learning does not take place in a stressed environment.
(You might be interested in this post: When to get a primary maths tutor for your child)
Advantages of a Private Maths Tutor
So how can a private maths tutor help? And how can it be different?
When done correctly and well, a private maths tutor with sufficient teaching experience can:
1. Tailor learning specifically to the child's own needs - to a level of detail that a classroom teacher could never manage.
2. Set the pace of learning specific to the student.
3. Tailor the 'method' of learning specific to the student.
4. Create an atmosphere of trust, in a non-competitive and low-stress environment.
5. Be 'reactive' right on the spot, so that misconceptions and misunderstandings can be dealt with where and when they occur, rather than being left to fester.
6. Provide immediate feedback - something few classroom teachers can do. No children I've ever met read a teacher's marking then go back over their work to see where they could improve. They're interested in the end result - is it 'good or bad'? This does little to move them on.
These are just a few points about how hiring a private maths tutor could help particular students at certain times throughout their school lives.
Do you have any experience of how one to one can be a game-changer for some children?