What age should students start tutoring?

It seems that more and more often now, there are not only more students going to tutoring, but that students are starting tutoring at younger ages.

For example, when I was working at a tutoring centre – the youngest student I ever had was in Year 3. And she wasn’t even the youngest. Another tutor had a student who was in Kindergarten or younger. It was astonishing! And also hilarious.

The tutoring lesson with this Kindie student involved:

“What is this?”


“This. Is. A. Cat.”  or “Cat. C. A. T.”

The lesson was also spent playing games, but eventually the Kindie student would get bored and run around the Centre (weeee!). Of course, their poor tutor would try to coax them back to the table.

I mean, isn’t this a bit extreme? The Kindie student didn’t seem to be struggling in learning or anything.

Is it the norm now to send children to tutoring as early as primary school?

I do think that more and more students are taking up tuition, not necessarily because they require it to keep up with the average, but because it is seen as the norm. Students without tutors are perhaps seen as “disadvantaged”, because they do not receive extra help – all they get is the “basic” education delivered by the school.

Yet, as more and more students take up tutoring, it becomes a requirement to have tutoring. There almost seems to be a competition amongst some parents – every other parent is getting tuition for their kid, don’t I need to too?

I do see the advantage and lure of getting a tutor in order to “get ahead” of everyone else. In fact, I really do advocate “getting ahead” not so much as a means of competing against other students, but because it can benefit you in terms of:

  • Learning content twice – it sticks easier in your brain
  • Time management

Personally, I was “home tutored” by my mum in primary school. She taught me Maths and the short cuts. As a result, everything in Maths was already pre-learned up to Year 9/10 – it was a breeze. In Year 11 and 12, I struggled with Maths (particularly with 3 Unit), because everything was “new” content to me.

I also went to a tutoring class for 1 term for 3 Unit Maths, but that was a nightmare. It was a complete waste of time, because:

  • It was a class and not one-on-one tuition
  • I was struggling – but the class was about “getting ahead”

But, back to the topic, really – how young do you want/need to start? Do you need tutoring at all?

If you don’t help your child get ahead, are you disadvantaging them? Or should tutoring (expensive) only start when they struggle?

9 comments for “What age should students start tutoring?

  1. December 20, 2010 at 7:27 pm

    A very interesting idea! I have encountered many students who seek tutoring in primary school because of undiagnosed issues which would fall into the realm of speech therapy. I also know parents who send their kids to Kumon for consolidation and I think that if you are not the type of parent who can help your kids, then this avenue is an excellent option.
    I sure am glad that I am in the education field because so far I’ve managed to positively help my kids at primary level … I am sure, however, that as they approach high school and beyond, my help will seem less cool and then perhaps they will call you 🙂

    • tutortales
      December 21, 2010 at 10:36 am

      That’s interesting to hear – I haven’t tutored many primary school students at all, so I’ve only encountered 1 student who after a few lessons (with me) was referred to a speech pathologist by their school teacher. Is this a common problem for many primary school students? It would be interesting to also know whether primary school teachers get training in “diagnosing” these things. TT

  2. :)
    January 1, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    theres this girl who goes to my school (and its selective)

    and she only came to australia in year 4, she said she couldn’t even string together a sentence of english

    english tutoring for a few years…

    and at the end of year 11 she topped english. TOPPED english. in a selective school

    and me, i was born in australia and came in the bottom half.
    i’m amazed, english tutoring at a young age (primary) for me might’ve helped.

    • R.R
      January 3, 2011 at 12:42 pm

      It is quite true that english tutoring at a young age (as you put it) may have helped you, but I must add that the girl who came to Australia in year 4 and ended up topping English in a selective school, must have put in a lot more effort than most of her peers. Her english tutor is simply one of the factors of her success, and perhaps the most insignificant one if compared to her efforts.
      In fact, I came to Australia in year 8, I am now in year 11 and getting into year 12. At first, I had absolutely no idea what ANYONE was talking about. The way I worked at it was reading. I started reading books that only primary school kids would read and gradually worked my way up.
      This year, in year 11, I came 8th out of 250 students and although I don’t go to a selective school, my school is always in the top 15.
      I think (if you would allow me), I have done relatively well for a girl who came in year 8. English and languages, have never been the strong point of my life, I have always loved Maths and have always been very good at Maths. My improvement in English is a matter of efforts, it would unfair to say that it is because of my English tutor that I have improved. In fact, I only started doing English tutoring at the start of year 11, I appreciate her (my tutor) help, it saved me a lot of time trying to figure out HOW to do my work, but ultimately, she is not the person who actually did the work.
      An english tutor is a good guide and would definitely bring you benefit, but without the effort of the student, I think (am I being too careful?) tutoring is bound to fail.

      • tutortales
        January 14, 2011 at 10:04 pm

        Thanks for your comment RR – I definitely agree that tutoring (without the effort of the student) is likely to fail. From the first 3 tutoring sessions, I can usually tell if a student is actually going to do anything with the help or advice which I give them. There are the usual students who never do the set homework, never rewrite their essays (after I’ve marked them) etc. I tend to put less effort into helping them (since they don’t appear to be interested in helping themselves) and they usually don’t get substantially better marks in the end, despite my tutoring efforts.


  3. Wendy
    January 31, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    Hey there – could you please contact me asap – I can’t take any more students and want to send you anyone that is near you – is that the Inner West?? 0429 855446 or 9969 3808

    • tutortales
      January 31, 2011 at 4:53 pm

      Hi Wendy – sorry, but I’m not located in the Inner West. I’m also not taking on any new students as I’ve just started full-time work and need to see how the work-life balance goes first. TT

  4. February 1, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    Hi TT – lucks of luck with your new job – I hope you can keep up with the tutoring too – it’s clear that you have lots of great energy for the kids.

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