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The Tutoring Toolbox

Posted : 20 Jun, 2021 Author :


One of the biggest objections we hear in regards to tutoring is 'Tutoring is just giving kids the answers.' This could not be further from the truth. A good tutor will, yes, teach your children the curriculum, but they'll do it in a way that adapts to your child's particular learning style and level, and teaches them to think critically and creatively. A good tutor will never tell your children the answers. They'll arm them with the tools to figure the answers out for themselves.


Question Time


Thinking back to when you were in school, did you ever wonder why your Maths Teacher would insist you “show your working” in your grid book?


Did it ever cross your mind as to why your English Teacher would say, “you can make any claims you like about a text… as long as you back it up with evidence”?


Tutors use a similar approach, but are in the advantageous position of focussing on one child at a time.


Simply giving students the answers to an equation, riddle or problem does not teach the child how to answer similar questions in future. In fact, authors Dan Rothstein and Luz Santana reveal that encouraging students to ask the questions is more important than having them give the answer. Your child’s tutor won’t give away the answers. Rather, they will help your child consider the right questions to ask, support dynamic thinking, and investigate a problem or question from a variety of angles.


The authors go on to note that tutors who use this approach facilitate deeper learning, and suggest four simple rules for structured questioning:


Rule 1: Encourage the child to ask as many questions as they can, as this gives permission to ask.


Rule 2: Do not judge, discuss, or answer any question in the initial stages, as this creates a safe learning space and protects the child’s potentially fragile confidence.


Rule 3: Record every question exactly as it is stated, which shows the child the tutor respects their independent voice.


Rule 4: Help the student change any statements into a question.


Students who embrace this approach are able to look further into a topic and unlock alternative interpretations of meaning. Not only that, but their confidence is established at a base level.


Learning Transferable Skills


There is much argument for the teaching of processes as opposed to tools in modern education, as evidence suggests this generates transferable skills in students.


Shaun Beard, Superintendent of Teaching and Learning in the USA argues that it is important to teach students why we use certain tools or programs, rather than simply how to use them, and it is argument is valid.


Beard explains that learned skills should be transferable to the workforce after graduation, and that while one business may utilise a specific program, interface or tool learned through school, another may lean towards use of another.


A good tutor will take a holistic approach to your child’s learning, with the view to build upon what they already know, and encourage the application of critical thinking, questioning and understanding of processes in a broad array of areas.


Our Online Tutors at Choice Education Group provide students with a ‘toolbox’ of broad learning skills that help your child get ahead, including the how and why of tools commonly practised in the classroom.


Get Ahead of the Curriculum


Another reason to have a tutor is the chance to master new material before your child has learned it in school. Not only does your child have the added advantage of understanding a concept or topic before their peers, it also helps build their confidence in that area, and encourages participation in class discussions where perhaps they were reluctant before.


A good tutor will start by reading the current syllabus with your child, using this as an opportunity to guide them in understanding why they are learning specific topics or completing certain projects. This is also a chance for the tutor to explain the rubric, what their teacher is looking for in a submission, and why – giving your child a better understanding of the whole area of study and its relevance.


Feedback is Important


At Choice Education, we believe children are learners with a natural instinct to seek improvement and achievement. With the knowledge that classroom teachers are under significant pressure to provide every student with the same level of attention (where in reality, time and curriculum teaching requirements do not allow), our long-time tutors are dedicated to providing students with descriptive and useful feedback on their work, which they will use to guide the child towards reviewing their own work with a critical eye.


In the past, teachers would deliver (sometimes scathing!) feedback to students in front of the whole class. Needless to say, this was arguably a demoralising and defeating experience. Education Consultant and Curriculum Writer Laura Reynolds reminds teachers that feedback should always be either positive or neutral; this is because the ultimate goal of providing feedback is to give the student a “can do” attitude in their approach to academic study.


Suffice to say, your child’s tutor will always focus on your child’s best efforts. It is not uncommon to hear a tutor deliver constructive feedback that includes phrases like “What I love about your submission is…” or “I love how you tried to include the main criteria points in your response” or “You’re halfway there already – fantastic!”, before moving into areas for improvement.


Feedback is important to improvement. Students can find it discouraging when they put significant time and effort into their schoolwork, only for it to remain unchecked or to receive harsh criticism. Therefore, it is imperative to the progress of your child’s academic knowledge and skill to receive and apply constructive feedback regularly.


Tutoring is for High-Achievers, too


Likewise, there are students who feel they are not challenged enough at school. Perhaps they are considered high achievers in their mixed-ability English class, or simply don’t find the Mathematics equations difficult to comprehend.


Often times, classroom teachers are aware of a student’s extraordinary capabilities and will plan ahead, providing them with an additional stimulus, a more challenging problem, or extra-curricular work. However, teachers are frequently so busy managing large class numbers that high achieving students will complete their work quickly, and waste the remainder of the lesson on unrelated tasks or form detrimental behaviours.


Fortunately, our tutors at Choice Education Group are well-adept at providing such students with academic challenges targeted to their ability, encouraging children to delve deeper into topics, and hone a higher-level of thinking. Not only will your child have a broader understanding of learned concepts at school, they will be able to question and critique at a learning level beyond that of their age group.


Learning to Learn


Once your child has accessed the ‘tutoring toolbox’ and become acquainted with their newfound skills, they are on the fast track to becoming independent learners.


Becoming independent in your learning gives a child the authority to decide what they learn (often beyond the curriculum), how they learn (using a variety of study techniques proven most suitable to them), where they learn most effectively without distraction, and whom they learn with.


Tutoring does not mean giving children the answers. It is providing every student with bespoke learning strategies and one-on-one education within and beyond the curriculum. It is the process of learning how to learn, how to question, how to research - and applying those skills to all facets of a child’s life.


Whether you’re looking for High School Tutors, Online Tutoring or preparing for a Scholarship test, at Choice Education Group, we are ready to help your child think critically and creatively in our one-on-one, group and online tutor sessions today.




Authors Rothstein and Santana


Shaun Beard


Laura Reynolds