Following two COVID-19 school shutdowns, many parents are concerned their children may have fallen behind or developed gaps in their learning and are considering whether 1:1 tuition could be a useful tool to restore their child’s confidence and give them a boost to catch up. As a teacher with over a decade’s experience, even pre-pandemic I was regularly asked by parents, “Should we get a tutor?” and I think there are a few factors to consider on a case-by-case basis.

In light of the pandemic and the potential for ‘lost learning’, I think it’s important to remember that all pupils are largely in the same boat and schools have robust plans in place to address any areas of education which need to be reinforced. Younger pupils are especially likely to have been supported closely by a parent or carer during the remote learning periods and are therefore largely in a good position to resume in-school education, with some having made great progress at home due to the regular 1:1 parental attention which they wouldn’t have received in class. Of course not all families were able to dedicate as much attention to home learning as they might have liked due to parents’ employment and other commitments and so if a child spent the remote learning period accessing very minimal education then it may be a good option to engage a tutor if that is within the family’s budget.

Parents must carefully consider that some pupils may be anxious about returning to school, may already feel a certain pressure to catch up and may need to rebuild stamina to cope with a full school timetable; pushing them to do further work outside of school hours with a tutor might feel like cognitive, physical and emotional overload. If extra tuition feels stressful, it can lead to a decrease in motivation and enjoyment of learning. On the other hand, some children do begin to enjoy school more when they start receiving that additional input – they become more confident with what is being taught in class, experience accelerated progress and feel a greater sense of success in school.

For parents who want to and have the means to provide a private tutor, it doesn’t hurt to give it a go but it is vital to closely monitor how the individual child responds. If they are enjoying the experience and feeling a sense of pride in their achievements then by all means continue with it. If it triggers conflict between well-meaning parents and children who would rather be enjoying free time then it may be wise to take a break from tutoring and ensure that learning does not start to feel forced and become a negative experience for the child.