“There is no school equal to a decent home and no teacher equal to a virtuous parent.” ― Gandhi
In recent years, private tutoring in the UK has increased with a quarter of secondary school students benefitting from tutoring. Whether the tutors are for primary school students or secondary students, they can help improve their academic performance. They can help with specific subjects, study skills, or homework.
If they just need help with homework, should a childminder do this or do you need to hire a tutor?
So what is the difference between a childminder and academic support tutoring?
Not every parent can pick their child up after school or help them with their homework. This is why a lot of parents look to childminders or babysitters to pick the kids up from school and take them home. It’s a fairly common practice, especially with working parents.
Generally, childminders and babysitters are there to look after the children and not necessarily to help them with their schooling.
In a lot of cases, they will take them home, prepare food for them, and ensure that they are well and supervised. This is a way for parents to guarantee their child’s safety and wellbeing in their absence. Of course, some childminders and babysitters also entertain children with games and activities.
Some may even help them with their homework. In this case, the lines start to blur between childminders and private tutors.
Childminders will need to be punctual and reliable, of course. Some parents opt for childminders every day of the week whilst others may just opt for them a few days of the week so that they can work late or to free up time for their other duties.
Childminders can also work during weekends and school holidays.
What Is Homework Help?
Homework help is different to childminding. A homework help tutor is there solely to assist the child with their homework. Students in primary school, secondary school, or college can all benefit from these services.
Parents can also get in touch with academic support companies or tutors directly. Once you’ve got in touch with a specialist or professional, you need to make sure that they offer the right services. Regular help is more effective than sporadically scheduled sessions so consider scheduling the tutor help either every day, weekly, or monthly.
In the sessions, the tutor will work with the student to ensure that they fully benefit from the time spent doing their homework or studying. The tutor is there to provide effective learning support, motivation, and advice. They can make sure the child is doing their homework more effectively, learning new concepts, or studying for exams.
Homework help is also useful for students who are struggling. In this case, they’ll need a tailored approach that works for them and their learning style. For example, some students might struggle with maths because their lessons are being taught in a way that doesn’t work for them.
With homework help, the tutor will focus solely on the student they’re helping and not on other duties like making them dinner or making sure they brush their teeth.
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Childminding
A childminder mightn’t have the time to help the child fully with their homework as their main focus is looking after the child and not necessarily their education or performance at school. Of course, you may stipulate that they help the child with their homework.
A childminder, despite their best intentions, however, may not be perfectly suited to helping with homework. They may be skilled enough to help students in primary school but struggle with secondary school students or college students. After all, their main task is to look after the children. If they’re looking after several children, changing nappies, running a bath, or preparing dinner may get in the way of sitting down with one child to help them with their homework.
Children who are struggling at school may need extra help rather than less. This may require a single dedicated professional to be effective.
There are also specific skills that a tutor has that a childminder mightn't have. A tutor will focus on teaching approaches and pedagogy and some people are more patient than others and better at explaining concepts in different ways to students. While some skills overlap, you can specialise in childcare and not tutoring and vice-versa.
A childminder may teach a child about behaviour but not necessarily help them with their academic studies, for example. A tutor, on the other hand, might be good at teaching a child about maths but not manners or cooking a nutritious meal.
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Tutoring
Tutoring is about helping children with their schooling. Unlike childminders, a tutor probably won’t pick up the child from school, bring them home, or make them dinner. The main advantage of a tutor is that they’ll focus fully on the child’s studies rather than ensuring that they’re fed. This is particularly useful for children who are struggling at school and need help in one or several subjects.
A private tutor will know how to explain topics in different ways to help the child to understand and be able to teach them study skills and techniques. Their experience with teaching means that they’ll be familiar with the challenges that students face and how they can help them.
They’ll probably be familiar with the curriculum or the topics covered in a given subject, too. They’ll also know about useful resources like videos, games, and activities that will make the child’s learning more engaging and effective.
The downside to tutoring is that they aren’t there to look after your child so won’t necessarily be able to replace a childminder, especially when it comes to younger children. Generally, the parents will need to be there when the tutor is working, especially with primary school pupils. If the tutor is alone with the child, their tutoring mightn’t be as effective, especially if they’re tasked with tasks more suited to a babysitter or childminder.
Choosing the Best Option for Your Children
Should you choose a childminder or a tutor?
It depends on your situation and the kind of help your children need.
If you’re going to be at work or unable to supervise, then childminding and babysitting is a good option. A professional childminder or babysitter can make sure that homework gets done but they won’t guarantee that it’s done as effectively as possible. However, with an only child, they may be able to dedicate more time to helping them with homework. In this case, they may have time to sit down with the child and help them, even if this isn’t their speciality.
However, if your child is struggling at school or has specific educational needs, tutoring is probably the better option. The tutor will focus on your child’s education and make sure they get the most out of their homework and studying. A lot of teachers in schools don’t have the time or the resources to give every child the attention or support that they need. Tutoring can offer tailored lessons and support to ensure that children reach their academic potential.
Can you combine tutoring and childminding?
This would require some kind of Mary Poppins-esque super nanny, but there may be someone like that out there. This is quite complicated but not impossible, at least for households with few children. Tutoring requires dedication and teaching skills to be effective and there are certainly childminders who have these skills but they also need the time and resources to do it.
With younger children who need their food cooked for them and a lot of looking after, this probably won’t be as possible. However, with older children, there are acceptable compromises between tutoring and childminding.
If you're looking for homework help or academic support tutoring, you can search for tutors on the Superprof website. There are plenty of experienced and qualified tutors ready to help you and you can view their profiles for free.
No two tutors are the same so you need to think carefully about the type of tutoring that will work best for your child and what you're looking for in a tutor. Think about which subjects you'll need the most help in and consider making a shortlist of the criteria you're looking for in a tutor. From there, you'll need to consider your budget and the type of tutoring available.
If you need help with homework or coursework, then you may want to search for school support, but if you're only struggling with a particular subject, you can search for that.
Don't forget that you can also find tutors for non-academic subjects, skills, and hobbies on Superprof so you can study and learn anything from algebra to Zumba!