Hello! We’re Anna and Louise, two mums of teens and young adults, and together we run Equipp, a business selling gifts for teenagers. We’re passionate about celebrating teens and helping them to happily achieve their potential. So we were delighted when Manisha from iXL Tutors asked us to share our personal experiences of using tutors; it’s a subject close to our hearts.
My three children are now 19, 21 and 23. My eldest has graduated and is now living in London, working as a data consultant. My two boys are both at uni.
We used tutors for all three at various times and for different reasons. Of course, I know just how lucky we were to be able to afford this, but it was definitely money well spent.
It was partly to make sure they got the grades they needed or wanted, of course. But I can honestly say that the main reason was to make sure they felt comfortable with their studies, that they didn’t worry or doubt themselves as much. And that most of all they got some help incorporating efficient revision into their spectacularly busy lives.
We live in Bucks so had to face the dreaded 11+. First time round, we did what all the other parents had apparently done years earlier and signed up for a course offered by one of the big 11+ tuition “schools”. It was by no means a fun experience – a large group where the children seemed to be encouraged to compete with each other. There was no focus on individual strengths and weaknesses and if anything, my daughter lost confidence rather than gained it.
Second time round, we found a tutor via word-of-mouth recommendation for one-to-one lessons. These were light and very relaxed, focussing only on what to expect in the exam and on the areas my son was weaker in. A totally different experience…
“Third time round, I tutored my youngest myself, as his sporting commitments meant that we didn’t have the option to do anything else. I look back on it as the worst summer of my life!!”– Anna
All three passed and went to grammar schools but the journey there was very different for each child. Looking back, I would say that if you have the option to get outside help, I recommend it, but make sure it’s exactly tailored to your child’s needs.
Languages just don’t gel with any of my three, and so we used a local Spanish tutor who came highly recommended for one-to-one lessons (three times!). It made all the difference. If there’s a subject that your child is really struggling with, and so isn’t enjoying, getting some extra help means there’s one less thing for them to worry about.
My daughter switched schools for sixth form and found (a bit too late really) that the different GCSE syllabuses and teaching approaches meant that she was at a real disadvantage at her new school. So, during year 13, she had some extra help from tutors in maths and physics. Again, this was on a one-to-one basis and my only regret is not starting it much sooner.
My younger son missed a lot of school during Year 12 due to a semi-pro sport contract and so we signed him up for maths tuition over the summer holiday. We used the same company as we’d used for my daughter. This time the one-to-one sessions were online, due to Covid restrictions, which he found very convenient and flexible. He filled all the gaps in his knowledge and went on to do better than expected.
As a parent I feel quite passionately that school, education, and studying should never override the happiness and security of childhood. I often think that we would benefit more if we could begin school as adults!
My own experience
With hindsight, I recognise my own determination to ensure this was because of personal experience. I have a birthday right at the end of August so spent much of my school life feeling bewildered. Combine that with attending a highly academic senior school, and you can see why I severely lacked confidence.
I still remember very clearly riding my bike on a Tuesday to a local maths tutor and sitting for an hour in her laundry room before my O levels. I have to say, that weekly hour was one of the best experiences of my school life. At the end of term, I sat in that exam room, and for once was able to answer nearly all the questions accurately and confidently in a paper that would previously just not have made any sense in my brain. I felt empowered, motivated, and most importantly extremely ‘happy’.
I strongly believe forcing academic achievement is never a road to success. However, we don’t live in an ideal world, and we need to help our children navigate the school journey. To identify areas where a young person may just need that extra boost, that one-to-one explanation to feel secure and confident in basic subjects, or more expert in specialised ones, can only be a rewarding investment in their confidence and happiness during their formulative years.
Working out what works at an early age
In the early stages of education, my son, Jack, struggled to read and showed dyslexic tendencies. But he wasn’t always happy to sit with me and work on this. Bringing in a tutor to assist with homework meant that our relationship wasn’t damaged, the learning was done, and he was happier. He progressed well through school having resolved those issues at an early age.
At GCSE, French was the enemy of the house, as nobody spoke it. The French tutor worked her magic on what otherwise would have been a soul-destroying waste of his energy. I know he wouldn’t have persevered.
By A levels, Jack’s work ethic and ability to study was independent and healthy. I believe the input of selected periods of support over the previous years were key to this. So, when he asked for some support with science, we were delighted to help. The tutor (who we found through recommendation) was young and provided an excellent role model and external male influence in Jack’s life at a complex time of adolescence too.
Never too late
Emily, my daughter, is a very different personality and very confidently sailed through most elements of school. But that can make the challenges even greater because they’re a new phenomenon when they inevitably arise. She dropped maths at A level, despite attempting to continue with a tutor, so we know that tuition doesn’t always work. Finding the right person is key. In the final six weeks before her Economics A level she found a new tutor, and the time invested there meant that she achieved a whole grade higher than expected. Em felt that one hour spent with the tutor was more effective than a day of revision on her own.
In conclusion, for me the investment in the right tutor will always be something I regard with huge positivity. A tutor can not only educate but rescue precious time in childhood. He or she can help young people’s development and reach out sometimes where it is harder for a parent to be totally effective. With help on board the young person can truly concentrate on finding who they are and what sparks their individual interests.
A little bit about Equipp
We’re Louise & Anna, mum to 5 teens and young adults. We set up Equipp to help spread happiness and positivity amongst today’s amazing young people. We believe it’s vital that every teenager is given confidence to believe in themselves. Telling them how wonderful they are and putting a daily smile on their faces via the cards and gifts they receive from Equipp is integral to everything we design and produce. You can find our collections of birthday and teenage milestone gifts here.
We love to celebrate teenagers in every way, and are building a community of parents who feel the same. Our blog is written for parents of teens and includes guest articles from teen bloggers and parenting experts. And we’d love it if you came and joined us on Instagram or Facebook to chat about parenting teens.
Oh, and we raise money for a fantastic teenage suicide prevention charity, Hector’s House, with a donation from every purchase from Equipp.