When to Start Tutoring

The best tutors can be booked up many years ahead, so the earlier you start to look for one the better the choice will be. If you have realised too late in the day that everyone else is employing a tutor and you have no success in finding one, then you can refer to our 11+ Preparation advice for guidance on how to home-tutor your child for the 11+.

Most children will begin their tutoring in either September or January of Year 5. In areas where the 11 plus covers curriculum topics, such as English or maths, some parents may choose to use a subject specific tutor from an earlier age to address known weaknesses in these subjects. Where the 11+ tests consist of 4 different subject papers, the amounts of tuition required may be somewhat higher, and tutoring may need to start somewhat earlier than Year 5, although you can probably discount most rumours of children being formally tutored for the 11+ from as early as Year 3.

There is no scientific answer as to how much tutoring is the correct amount, but there is no doubt that some tutoring helps, while too much can be completely counter-productive. Most tutors will hold a weekly session of an hour or 90 minutes in term time. There will also be homework set each week and for the holidays, especially the summer holiday when the tests are looming in most areas. In the immediate period before the tests some tutors may offer additional sessions or short courses during the summer holiday. You should assess carefully what the effect of these will be on your child, because there is a risk that the extra lessons will simply increase their feelings of stress about the exams.

The one thing to look out for at every stage in the process is your child “burning out” from too much tutoring. There is definitely a point at which the law of diminishing returns comes into play. Evaluate your child’s tolerance for coaching carefully and find a tutor who will match their needs in this respect. You will find further advice on these points in the remainder of this section of our site.

If a tutor recommends more than two hours of tuition a week over a lengthy period, or is insisting on your child attending expensive summer school courses as part of their “tuition package”, you should ask yourself who these extra sessions are going to benefit – your child, or the tutor and their bank balance?


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