Over ten years ago, finding a good tutoring company in Grand Cayman was a rather difficult thing to do. Times have changed in a big way! Cayman now has a wealth of highly qualified and well-trained teachers and tutoring professionals who work out of busy and dedicated tutoring companies. But why hire a tutor in the first place?
A tutor can help your children stay on top of their homework and coursework, help improve their grades and, more importantly, give them confidence in their school work. This rise in qualified and exceptionally good tutors has been particularly game-changing for children within the public school system: one-to-one tuition can exponentially improve results and open up enhanced opportunities at college.
So, what do you need to consider when choosing a tutor? When Cayman Parent asked qualified teachers at the top schools about this subject, here is what we learnt:
Phonics & Reading Support
We have been told that most children should be reading quite comfortably between the ages of six and seven. However, if your child is really struggling then something could be wrong and there is no time to waste. Your child might have dyslexia and, if so, will need reading intervention. This would come in the form of a qualified individual who is trained in either the Wilson Programme or the Orton-Gillingham dyslexia instructional approach. This is an essential step, so ask your tutor if they have a certificate or qualification proving that they can teach either of these courses. If you suspect your child has ADHD, then a diagnosis of dyslexia often comes with it, so that is something to consider as well.
One easy thing that all parents (and preschools) can do is buy a colourful poster (available on Amazon) with the alphabet on it. Make sure it does not just have capital letters though, you need the lower case letters as well. Find one that has a picture for each letter (e.g. an apple for Aa). Then put it somewhere that your children will see it a lot in front of the loo or the back of the bathroom door are good places! Your child will then see it every day and will slowly, ideally from the age of 18 months, begin to absorb what the letters look like and sound like.
If you are looking for a Maths tutor, be aware that children in the US system learn Maths in a very different way to those in the UK system. In the US system, students learn Maths in themed branches (algebra, geometry, advanced algebra, trigonometry and then calculus); in the UK system, students learn a broad cross-section of the whole subject of Maths and then build on it each year. Enquire as to what experience the tutor has with the curriculum, and if they don't seem to have enough knowledge of it then find one who does.
All children in Cayman are now required to have mastered their times tables by the age of nine. To help them achieve this, one simple thing you can do is order a times table poster from Amazon and put it somewhere they will see it a lot. Opposite the toilet or the bath is ideal. While they are in the bath you can test them and, over time, your child will learn them. Try and put it up there while they are still very small.
Many parents look for help getting their children to do their homework, and as a bonus a tutor will also work out very quickly where the gaps are in your childs knowledge of the current subjects they are studying. Tuition should always supplement the learning already taking place inside the school classroom. A good way to aid this is to regularly forward class newsletters, spelling lists, school reports, etc. to the tutor for inclusion in the tutoring sessions. Your child's tutor can then make sure that their students are on top of their subjects.
GCSE, IB Diploma or A Level Exam Help
If you are looking to have your child tutored for their GCSE, A Level or IB Diploma exams, make sure to find a teacher who has experience teaching the current curriculum your child should be learning for that specific subject. Also, make sure they have specific experience getting children through those exams and have not just taught the subject up to an earlier grade. At this level of your child's education it is seriously important that your child's tutor is a qualified teacher. Although a teaching assistant can help guide a child with special needs and teach children at primary school, you would do well to find a qualified teacher for your child's external exam tutoring.
Expect to pay on average CI$50-CI$55 an hour for one-on-one tutoring. It is money well spent. The tutor will not move on until they know that your child has grasped the subject properly. This is something you cannot guarantee in a school classroom setting with 25+ students.