Parents are wonderful tutors for their children! While there are times it is helpful to hire a tutor, many of the learning activities tutors provide for children can be done just as well–sometimes even better–by parents.
Family Life-long Learning: Very often, the best tutors children can have are their parents (or guardians, or close relatives such as grandparents). Parent-tutors love their children, and support and inspire them to become life-long learners. Day after day, parents see their children learn and develop, and the parent-child relationship grows as well. Parent educators observe what their children understand about the world around them, as the children learn at school and in everyday life. They help their children apply that learning as they notice and encourage the subjects which most interest each child.
Shared Learning: Parent-child tutoring does not require special training; instead, it is shared learning. If parents don’t know how to do something, they can learn it along with the child. When family members spend time together, the children develop social, conversational, and listening skills. The one-to-one engagement between a parent and child creates wonderful focused learning opportunities. Just find little ways to share your love of learning, and your children will “catch it” and become lifelong learners themselves. When you value learning, your children will see that as a natural part of life.
What is Tutoring? Tutoring, for parents of schooled children, is basically a combination of facilitating homework help, strengthening weaker skills, and enrichment. As a parent-tutor, you can monitor if your child is following through on school learning day to day, and also follow his or her progress long term—something classroom teachers don’t get to do. If you are a homeschooler, you will facilitate and guide your child’s learning, teaching as needed. Children learn naturally as their parents motivate, guide, and mentor them, in “school work” and in every kind of natural learning opportunity families experience together.
Do parents have the necessary skills to tutor? Parent-tutors have educational skills they may not even recognize—basic literacy skills from their own education, but also employment and life experience putting those skills into real life situations. They may also have teaching experience, from training people at work, coaching, and more. Children actually learn an enormous amount of complex information and skills before they even go to school—and a large portion of that has been taught by their parents!
How can parents gain extra tutoring skills? If parents feel they aren’t qualified enough to tutor school work, they can get many great tips without having to get special training. They can learn more about the required curriculum by speaking with the child’s teacher and by asking permission to observe and volunteer in the classroom. Also, the provincial curriculums are available online (BC curriculum) For many subjects, parents can google/search the subject area, grade level, and location (province), and find many useful, free or very low-cost lesson plans, worksheets, learning activities and games, and learning sites. They can also purchase, or borrow, workbooks and other books from bookstores, libraries, thrift stores, friends, homeschool groups, etc.
Homeschool parents can also follow provincial curriculums, or they can purchase a wide variety of commercially available curriculums, or even design their own family learning plan or follow alternative learning approaches such as unschooling. Those wanting to homeschool, though, need to check with the educational laws for their province (or state).
What are the goals of parent tutoring? A parent-tutor’s long-term goal is to transfer ownership of the learning process to their children, so the youngsters come to recognise how they learn, and then they can use those skills themselves to succeed in all aspects of life. Good parent-tutors transition over time from a directed to non-directed tutoring style, as they become guides and facilitators rather than a direct teacher.
A guide-facilitator will ask the child what she needs to do; let her initiate her own work; respond to her questions with open-ended questions; let her have her own “ah-ha!” moments; help her become a self-powered learner; encourage her to set her own short- and long-term goals; and help her go beyond “school learning” to learning that encompasses all of life. Parent-tutors help their children become thinkers and involved members of society who understand how the world works, what happens and why, and who can help to make the world a better place.
Do you think you could be a tutor for your children? Be sure to follow this series on parent-tutors, and learn how you can provide so much wonderful help and guidance for your children’s education, and prepare them to be enthusiastic self-motivated and self-directed life-long learners!
In future posts in this series, we will dig deeper into how parents can be excellent tutors. Be sure to subscribe to this blog so you don’t miss any posts in this series. And also check through the previous posts (see the “Tutoring Topics” page for a list) for all kinds of great learning and tutoring tips so your family can learn together.
Other posts in this series, “How to Be a Great Parent-Tutor”:
- Why children need parent-tutors
- Important activities parent-tutors can do well
- Building a Good Parent-Tutor and Child Relationship
- Learning Styles, Intelligences, and Behaviours
- Developing Individualised Tutoring–Tips for Parents
- Monitoring Your Child’s Progress
- Some Basic Learning Goals
- Home Tutoring Resources
- Suggestions for a Tutoring Session at Home
- Specific Suggestions for Primary Grades
- Specific Considerations for Intermediate Grades
- When to Consider Hiring a Tutor
- Costs of Tutors and Alternatives
- All Kinds of Learning Activities