5 things to consider when choosing a tutor


We are all individuals and our reasons for needing a tutor will vary widely.
Regardless of your reasoning for seeking out a tutor, here are 10 points you might want to consider:

1. Where will the lessons take place?

Are you willing to travel to a central location for the lessons or the tutor’s home? There are obvious advantages to this including the tutor will have all their resources on hand to easily adapt the lesson if necessary. However, if you hold a busy schedule and have other children that you would need to take with you to drop your child off, is it easier to try and find a tutor who is able to come to your house.


2. What would you expect to pay for a tutor?

The price charged by tutor’s varies widely. Some tutors will charge as little as £10/ hour. These are often online lessons carried out by students. If you travel to a tutoring centre/ a tutor’s home where the tutor is physically present you will expect to pay more. However, the range of resources available will be greater and the because the tutor is present it is often easier to hold the student’s attention. These are often group lessons. Another alternative, is to pay a premium and have the tutor travel to your home so you are relieved of the need to travel and possibly hang around somewhere whilst the lesson takes place. It also means that because the lesson is taking place in your home you are better placed to see what is happening in the lessons.


3. Do you want your child to have one to one tutoring?

Very often when children are struggling, they feel unable to ask questions in front of their peers. It’s hard to put your hand up and admit that you don’t understand what is been explained. One to one tutoring offers the child an hour of the tutor’s undivided attention. They can focus purely on what the child needs to find confidence in. They can pay attention to the areas where your child needs to grow. Everything has a consequence and here you would expect to pay slightly more for the lessons.
The advantage of group lessons is that your child will also have support of peer learning.


4. How does your child learn best?

When I was young, I used to love reading books, making notes and writing essays. I know for many people this would be their worst nightmare!
When we tutor, we always use a range of activities: games, worksheets, code breaking, discussion, mind maps.
You need to find a tutor that has a similar teaching style to your child’s learning style. We need to acknowledge that we are all individuals and as such we all teach and learn differently. Find a tutor that will embrace your child’s individual needs and requirements.

5. What experience and qualifications do you want your tutor to have?

To some people this won’t be of importance, they will be more concerned with the rapport of the tutor and their ability to pass their knowledge onto their child. I have met very intelligent tutors who have no ability to teach. I’m not a qualified teacher but I have a degree in childcare and education.

I have nearly 20 years of experience working in a huge variety of educational settings, but I’m not a qualified teacher. I have had tutors working for me, freshly out of A’ Levels that have had amazing feedback and I regularly get asked if they are likely to come back. I have tutors whose experience is working one to one with special needs children in a private schools, those whose background is accountancy, business growth, teachers. They are all amazing but without being qualified teachers some people will have their doubts to their abilities.
When I started tutoring, I had my own doubts but it was explained to me that teachers are taught to teach one way. If the child does not grasp this method at school will they grasp it at home?
Another lesson I have learned that reinforces this was when I was at school. My dad was an accountant. He lectured occasionally at the local college to help pay for our family holidays but he wasn’t a teacher. We had been learning solving equations at school and I couldn’t get it. The teacher had gone over it so many times and she was clearly getting fed up with me.
At home that night Dad spent an hour or two going over it with me in his words, using his own techniques, and I got it. It was crystal clear. I still use his explanation when I explain it to people today.

Like I say, we are all different and have our own learning /teaching style. What suits one person will not always suit another.
I hoped this has given you food for thought if you are considering getting a tutor.
If we can be of any further help, please do get in touch here

Learning needs to be fun to be effective!

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Over the past 18+ years of working and studying in education I have had a keen interest on learning styles.
The one thing that continually emerges is that learning needs to be both fun and varied.

Why does learning need to be fun?

Human behaviour has evolved over time. When we are suffering from stress or a fear of something the “fight or flight” instinct kicks in.

It can be recognised as your heartbeat racing faster, a tight sensation in your chest. Your senses also become more heightened to what is happening around you.

The reason behind this is because in prehistoric times our ancestors may have found themselves in situations which required a rapid response; such as coming face to face with a wolf, bear or other threat.

They needed to be able to respond quickly so that they stayed alive. Therefore, they instinctively took flight or stayed to fight.

Although we don’t have such threats in the modern world, a fear of something will still create this same response from us.

For a child or anyone who struggles with learning there is a heightened sense of fear when face to face with something unfamiliar to them or something that they have previously struggled with.

As parents or educators, I feel it is our responsibility to remove that sense of fear.

As parents or educators, I feel it is our responsibility to remove that sense of fear. blog insert


How can we reduce / remove the sense of fear?

This is quite simple.

We teach through the use of enjoyable resources so that the focus is aimed not only on the end result but also the journey there.

Teach through the use of enjoyable resources so that the focus is aimed not only on the end result but also the journey there. Post insert

The more enjoyable we can make the journey, the less inclined the child will be to want to flee the situation. This is in part why young children are encouraged to learn through play.

Why can’t older children learn like this as well?
The children I work with at Starr Tutoring are aged between 5 and 16 years old. We also work with adults who are returning to education.

We always play a variety of games in our learning such as:

Hangman, creating word searches or playing battleships for learning new terminology or spellings.
These ideas can also be used to stimulate ideas before writing a story, piece of persuasive writing or other piece of extended writing.
Lily pads, snakes and ladders and pairs are frequently used for ideas that need definitions or specific answers (such as in maths).
Drawing pictures to illustrate what a scene in a book describes rather than writing it down.
Annotating pictures of characters with key quotes that they use and the relevance of these quotes.
Use colour and reward every small step that is achieved.

By doing this you are also building confidence in the child that they can succeed.
The more confident the child is feeling the more likely they are to want to participate as the fight or flight mode is removed.

The more they participate the more practice they gain.

More practice means the better they become.

The spiral of success grows and so does the self-fulfilling philosophy of achievement and success.

The spiral of success grows and so does the self-fulfilling philosophy of achievement and success. post insert

Making learning an enjoyable experience, has got to be beneficial. Leaving them inspired and feeling good about themselves will also positively affect them in other areas of their life as well.

If you are looking to support your child with learning their times tables this summer and are keen to make it fun, why not click here and find out more about “The 1 Million Times Tables Challenge”

Or if you want to have weekly emails offering techniques you can use to support your child with their maths or English drop me an email and I will make sure you get them.

Either way, I would love to hear your comments below and please do share this post with the people you care about on Twitter or Facebook.




5 simple ways to boost a child’s confidence and improve learning


How can we help the reluctant learner become a confident learner and boost their abilities and enthusiasm at the same time?

When you’re good at something you attack it with enthusiasm and confidence.

The reverse is true when you doubt your own ability. You put it off as much as possible and when you do finally have to get on with it, it is done with trepidation and reluctance.

This has consequences on a person’s ability to learn. The learner, who is confident and willing to give things ago, is far more likely to make progress than the reluctant learner who implores that their turn will never arise:

Let’s start with the Chinese proverb

“I hear and I forget; I see and I remember; I do and I understand”.

Loosely translated this means, tell me and I’ll forget, show me and I will remember, but it’s not until I have ago that I will actually understand. This I think is the underlying philosophy for all the points to come.


Make learning fun.

Each week the child brings home a list of, shall we say 10 spellings? They dutifully sit at the table and strive to learn them using the read, cover, write, check method promoted by schools. They run through them the first time and much to their dismay, only a couple are right. They try again and maybe one or two more are right, but others might be wrong and the “Why am I doing this, I never get them all right anyway?” mentality sets in.

Let’s try a different approach.

Is there a method you could use to make the experience into a fun one? I will use a child’s weekly spellings here as an example, but this can be applied to almost anything.

The parent suggests to the child they have a game of hangman. I tell you what, how about we use your spellings as some inspiration?

Already, the mind-set is different. This sounds like fun and someone is going to be participating in the activity with me. I’m good at hangman and I might win!

Playing hangman helps the child look at the individual letters in the word and the order they go in. It is also creating a different form of memory, so when the child needs to recall the information on how to write a specific word, they are more likely to be able to do so. There is no time consuming preparation in this game, but it is one that can be enjoyed together. Now hopefully, when the child sits down to do the “read, cover, write, check” they are already familiar with the words and how they are spelt and suddenly it isn’t such an arduous task.

Hangman isn’t the only game that can be played, there are many, if you want some ideas of others, please get in touch and we will be more than happy to help.

Let them win.

Sometimes don’t be in such a hurry to be the best. Yes, you must feel on top of the world, but when someone is struggling and it is your place to try and support them, let them do as well or better than you once in a while.

To beat someone who is their teacher, their parent, or a role model, will boost confidence no end and in the process encourage that person to want to try again. Maybe I will win again, maybe I won’t but it doesn’t matter quite so much because I won last time.

This follows on from above in many respects. If you are the one at school who always gets the lowest results, comes last in every contest or struggles with most things think how low your moral must be.

Use praise and rewards

Praise people when they do well, even if it’s not a huge achievement in the eyes of others, for them this could be a huge milestone they’ve finally achieved.

Don’t be patronising though, that’s counterproductive…

When working with children use stickers, certificates and let them know you have commented on it to their parents, other teachers, etc. whatever it takes to help the child recognise how they have succeeded in making progress

We all love to hear when we’ve done well. Some people hear it all the time; others feel that they never hear it and what they do well it goes unrecognised.


Start on the ‘easy’ side of things and progress slowly

Maybe this is one of the most important considerations.

Start at a level that the child is already comfortable with. Ok, you may feel you are wasting time and time is important, but remember the aim here is to boost the child’s confidence and enthusiasm to learn.

Starting with something that is beyond them is simply going to make them feel more of a failure and if the foundations aren’t securely in place, what is to come in the future will only crumble.

If you start with something that you know the child is already fairly confident with you can reinforce their ability from the outset. Show them what they are capable of and build on this knowledge.

Then once each step is confidently secured, take a step forward. Move too quickly and the child will once again start to flounder as things become too daunting, but having said that, as confidence builds so will a child’s enthusiasm and their desire to progress will increase with it and before long this child will be as confident as the others in their group.

Remember, once the child’s confidence has increased, their willingness to have ago will dramatically improve as well.

These are just five of the techniques we use at Starr Tutoring Ltd to support confidence and willingness to have a go and learn for both the young and old.


I hope this has given you food for thought, but if you want more ideas or guidance as a parent or childcare professional, please do subscribe to our blog or get in touch and ask to receive the emails we send out each week offering techniques to support your child at home with their maths and English.

We would love to help. If you have any feedback, opinions or comments, please do comment below, we are always looking for new ideas and to hear about how you put these ideas into practice and the difference it made to your child.