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Choosing a grinds tutor

If your child is struggling with a particular subject at school, whether it is at primary or secondary level, it is important to let their teacher know.  The teacher may be in a position to provide extra support or to direct the parent or student to additional resources which might help. However as a parent you may feel that it is appropriate to seek additional support for your child in the form of private tutoring. A good tutor can make a positive difference to your child’s learning and their exam performance but you need to do your homework first to find the right tutor. has no knowledge of the competency of tutors who advertise their services in the Grinds & Tutors section and no recommendation is implied by their listing on this site. It is up to parents and students to do their homework and choose the best tutor for their needs Here are some things to consider when choosing a tutor to provide one-on-one grinds for your child;

a) Safety first

Protect your child and the tutor. If a tutor is coming to your house to teach your child, make sure that another adult is present in the house while the tutor is working with your child. This means scheduling the times of the grinds to coincide with times when another adult is in the house.

b) Appropriate experience

Try and find a tutor who has previous experience teaching the current syllabus at the level required for your child.  The content and teaching methodologies for the primary curriculum have changed considerably in recent years.  For example the manner in which maths  addition is taught differs from some years back in that kids are no longer taught to 'carry over' when adding etc, they are taught to 'regroup'.  Similarly the teaching of the alphabet and phonics has changed.

It is therefore important that the tutor you choose for your child is familiar with the updated curriculum so as not to introduce old methods and confuse your child. Similarly if you are seeking support for your Junior Cert of Leaving Cert child, it is important to source a tutor who is familiar with the curriculum. The Irish leaving cert assessment is 40% oral with another 60% being written and aural. An Irish speaker will be able to provide assistance with oral Irish but unless they have knowledge and experience of the syllabus for the leaving certificate, they may not be able to teach the student the other 60% of the syllabus. Similarly, a fluent French/Spanish speaker may be able to improve the oral standard of a student, if they know how to teach. However, it is doubtful that they will be able to assist with teaching the rest of the syllabus unless they have been trained to do so.

c) Exam experience

Try to find a tutor who has previous experience in marking the relevant subject at Junior or Leaving Certificate.

Teaching a subject to the required level requires experience and skill. Teaching a student to answer exam questions to the required level is a different focus and skill. A tutor with previous experience correcting Junior/Leaving cert papers will be able to teach students how to answer the exam questions for best marks.

d) Background checks

Ask the tutor for previous students/parents you can contact for a reference. You need to assess whether this tutor is right for your child. One way to do this is to speak to previous students/parents and ask them about their experience with the tutor, teaching style (engaging, supportive) and the results achieved. No need to be shy or apologetic about doing this, it could make all the difference to your child.

e) Start early

If you notice your child struggling with a particular subject or concept early in the year, let their teacher know as soon as possible.  If it is an important exam year and you feel your child needs extra support organise additional tutoring as soon as possible. Waiting until the results of the mock Junior/Leaving cert come out leaves little time for your child to learn and puts them under a lot of pressure to learn quickly.