Today, tutoring can take on many forms:
Most of these formats are paying and can often be rather expensive.
But there is a solution: government and private foundations offering free tutoring services.
Whether in cities or in villages, various associations offer homework help and academic support for struggling students in and outside the classroom.
Volunteers sacrifice several hours of their time each week to help schoolchildren and A-Level students succeed.
Here are some of the opportunities offered in Britain for free private tutoring.
The easiest free tutoring is studying alone.
With the age of Internet and sites offering an online writing lab, free online tutoring in science and engineering, maths or history, you might not consider private lessons or lessons in a learning community straight away. Especially since such online tutoring services can’t be beaten for flexibility and accessibility.
However, free math tutoring online can be insufficient, while lessons with a tutor through an app such as YUP or TutorMe pricing can be expensive.
Additionally, it can be difficult to advance when there is no-one in front of you to correct your mistakes and, even more importantly, explain why you are wrong and offer strategies to improve your learning process.
One-on-one or small-group tutoring is the best way to advance and make progress. Photo credit: US Department of Education on VisualHunt
Taking private lessons through a tutoring program can let you:
These associations provide documentation, manuals and audiovisual materials such as textbooks, audiobooks, ebooks or exercise sheets.
Everything is generally free. A few organisations ask for a registration fee, but it’s usually not very much. It is mostly symbolical and lets you participate in all their activities and pays for photocopies. In some, you will have to pay for materials (notebooks and pens and such) and books, others will supply everything. So make sure you browse through online testimonials before making your first appointment so you know what to expect.
In many libraries in the UK, it is possible to sign up for afterschool homework tutoring. Homework Help Sessions (such as here in Nottingham) offer free resources such as computers with free Internet accessibility, pens, paper, calculators etc. – ideal for children from low-income or otherwise disadvantaged households. They also have volunteer tutors eager to answer your questions about integral equations, give you encouragement and help with study strategies and career exploration.
Some libraries offer homework help sessions. Photo credit: jakemohan on Visual Hunt
You can usually find the library locations offering after-school tutoring and learning programs on the local council website, search for “library homework help sessions” online or use the search at gov.uk.
But as wonderful as it is to see people volunteering for library homework help sessions, the tutors there will sometimes be dealing with several students at once. If it’s just a case of making sure homework is done properly and answering a few questions about the exercises or lesson, a group tutoring program is fine. But if your child has real difficulties – such as a learning disability – whether it be in calculus 1 or history or geography lessons, one-on-one tutoring is the best answer.
While there is no official government programme, Britain’s educational system works with several associations to offer help to disadvantaged teens and elementary school children. Some have their own learning centre while others have an outreach program in the schools themselves.
TutorFair works with a number of schools in the UK. They provide in-class tutoring, with tutors working directly with teachers to identify students most in need of encouragement and make a tuition plan to help them progress. They also offer small-group lessons with two or three students, taking place either at lunchtime or after school.
Additionally, they provide texting-based tuition. A new GCSE maths program allows students to communicate with tutors on-demand via instant messenger.
To receive their qualifications, tutors have to provide a DBS check and receive child protection training.
The Access Project also partners with schools to provide support on-site at GCSE and A-Levels. Tutors work one-on-one with the child in weekly sessions and stay in contact with the student’s teacher to track vulnerable subjects and their progress.
They also offer mentoring for applications and interviews to undergraduate courses at college and higher education courses.
Some tutoring programs offer help with applications to universities and other centres of higher learning. Photo credit: pcgn7 on VisualHunt
Action Tutoring offers in-school tutoring in reading and writing as well as mathematics as an after-school program (no summer tutoring). They supply workbooks and work either one-to-one or one-to-two, with an average of ten tutors per after-school tutoring program. Qualified teachers have completed a training program and DBS check.
Language Futures concentrate on helping students learning a second language at primary and secondary levels.
Their scope is a little wider, providing not only support for students in difficulty but also More Able, Gifted and Talented students. They partner with schools to broaden the opportunities for language learning and help students stay motivated and reinforce independent study skills.
While it is generally considered healthy for students on the autistic spectrum to learn alongside non-autistic students, the daily routine of school and homework and interpersonal relationships can be very challenging to someone with autism or other social disabilities.
Brain in Hand is a combination app/support system. The smartphone app offers a calendar function with reminders about upcoming tasks and how long they are estimated to take. It will remind the child of upcoming deadlines and any changes in its daily routine. This gives the child a greater sense of security because they always know what is coming up next.
But in addition to daily task reminders, the app also provides the child with coping strategies. When they are confronted with a stressful situation, they can look on their phone and find reminders on how to stay calm, what questions to ask to get the answers they need to centre themselves.
And if that doesn’t work, the student can press an “emergency red button” that puts them in touch with someone at the National Autistic Society.
Reminders can be inputted by parents and teachers with official access to the app.
There are several planning apps for autistic children out there, but Brain in Hand offers an impressive support structure for the pupil and school.
Associations with their own rooms or a tutoring center will have access to games, computers and other equipment. However, from a psychological point of view, it is generally a better idea for teachers to help out at the student’s home.
The idea is not to do housework or cook dinner but to avoid wasting too much time travelling to and from school, tutoring and home. Having an educator come to their home means that the student isn’t taken out of their comfort zone – often useful when the student has learning disabilities.
Students are often less apt to play tough and pretend to know more than they do when they aren’t in unfamiliar surroundings.
One-on-one tutoring is the best way to improve grades and study practices. Photo credit: US Department of Education on Visual Hunt
However, in some cases, a bad family situation will make it easier for some students to learn outside of the home, and some students with other types of learning disabilities might profit from props and games that are not necessarily portable.
Home tutoring is generally the better option, but it is important to tailor free math tutoring (or tutoring in any other subject) to the needs of each child. An individualized learning curriculum also means adapting in terms of physical places for lessons or even organising an online tutor session via Skype. A school counselor can help figure out which strategy is best.
Some associations seek to improve their activities and take them to the next level. Not content to help students with their numeracy or improve in their second language at home, some have expanded beyond home tutoring.
Long-distance tutoring can take several forms. There are two main ones:
If the pedagogical basis is sound, they can give a good working ethic, adapted to school rhythms, with excellent resources for algebra, physics or chemistry.
Long-distance learning is old, but the Internet has definitely changed the game. An online learning academy is particularly attractive to teens. They can even include video conferences with a live math tutor or chemistry tutor and several friends. Without having to factor in travel time, scheduling just became a lot easier!