Can engaging a private tutor at the start of the school year help your child settle into school? We find out from tutoring expert JEROME BARTY-TAYLOR of BartyEd in Hong Kong.
What do families with a child starting school in Hong Kong for the first time need to consider?
A new school year is always an important yet potentially stressful time for children and parents alike. This is especially true if the child is transitioning between school systems or is facing exams this year.
Hong Kong schools tend to pile on the work from the beginning, so children have little time to get used to their new timetable and surroundings. That means they’ll need support of all kinds from the outset. The schools themselves, of course, are there to provide support, but realistically speaking, the academic and emotional support needs to start at home. Further, you may find formal feedback from school is less frequent than you’re used to.
Should parents be monitoring their child‘s progress?
Absolutely – and especially at a new school, or as exam “crunch-time” approaches. It can be difficult to move from the indolence of summer to the hard work of term time for even the most diligent of students, which is why monitoring their progress is so important. For many students, online learning in the past year has been a time to “lean back” or coast. For students sitting public exams or intending to sit competitive entrance exams for schools overseas, it’s essential that they put in the extra work and prepare diligently. If you notice that your child is falling behind, take steps to address the situation as soon as possible.
What are signs that suggest tutoring in a certain subject could help?
Obviously, grades are a pretty reliable indicator, particularly if you observe a worsening trend. Other signs can include a reduced enthusiasm for learning, or a change in studying habits. A new school year and a new teacher in a specific subject can sometimes lead to disengagement in the case of a personality clash. Here, bringing in outside support may help a student recommit to a subject they have enjoyed previously. General disengagement with school life, and a “caginess” regarding deadlines might indicate that the workload is starting to become a bit much for your child.
Ultimately, these signs are best determined through regular communication with the child, and asking them what they are and aren’t enjoying about school. Getting the child to open up is a key element of tutoring, as more often than not, the child is the best assessor of their own learning experience.
How long should parents wait to see if a student settles into school before considering private tutoring?
There’s no hard and fast rule, because there are many different reasons to consider tuition. Support with subjects our students find difficult is a big part of it, but tutoring can also be an opportunity for students to extend their learning in areas where they have more confidence.
Tutoring can provide students with consistent academic and emotional support throughout the school year, even at the beginning. If parents prefer to wait and see how the child is faring after their first few units, then they will come to tutoring with a clear picture of their child’s performance as it stands, and thus have a barometer for how effective tutoring is. On the other hand, having an academic mentor from the onset of classes can result in these issues never arising in the first place, and lead long-term to more stable progress in their learning.
Jerome is Managing Director of Barty Education and Development (BartyED). If your family needs some additional educational support this year, find out more about BartyEd’s team of professional private tutors in Hong Kong at bartyed.com or call 2799 6438.
This article first appeared in the Autumn 2021 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.