Currently, I am paying for six hours of tutoring per week for my children.
My eldest is facing GCSEs in a failing school. He has a natural aptitude for academics and feels disappointed and disenfranchised with what’s on offer. So Chris (a 63 year old ex-army science teacher) tutors him four hours per week in maths, biology, chemistry and physics. Anne gives him a further hour of study skills each week.
Before the tutors were installed Michael was angry, disillusioned and worried for his future. Today he knows that the adults in his life will help him and support him to make his way in the world.
During lockdown, those daily sessions with Chris were the most civilised moments in his schedule. As a mother, I knew that for at least one hour a day, Michael was having a sensible, enabling conversation with a caring adult. I was completely unable to provide that for him myself (I was just too overwhelmed) so I was grateful to Chris primarily for being a trusted adult.
Had Michael been going off the rails, I know that Chris would have alerted me to any concerns. But he wasn’t, he was learning high-level science with an interesting and interested tutor. What a brilliant investment.
The final hour of tutoring I pay for each week is Jodi. Jodi is working with my 9 year old Doniel. His primary school was horrendous, and though he’s a fantastic thinker, he is not a natural academic. Last year, weeks before lockdown, we secured a place in a much better school for Doniel. Now that he’s had a year to detox from the first school, and acclimatise to the new one (albeit it mostly remotely) I decided he was ready for Jodi.
I’ve seen Jodi change children’s lives. When I was a Deputy Head in a primary school, she would come in and teach children to write. Children who had English as an additional language, who had transferred schools, who may have been dyslexic but undiagnosed. I knew that Doniel would need to be in the right frame of mind to work with Jodi. She’s very dynamic and focussed.
Last month I decided: he’s ready.
We started. She asked me not to share her methodology, and so I won’t, but it’s astonishingly simple and effective.
She’s breaking language down into its smallest parts and explaining each piece to Doniel. We do flash cards and spelling tests for homework. I’m not great at homework, but he brings me the box to review quite willingly.
Jodi brings confidence and experience and Doniel feels hopeful for the first time.
Jodi recommended we go to a specific opthamologist. We had an in-depth assessment there this morning. I wanted to cry.
Ianis, the wonderful opthamologist, showed me a recording of Doniel’s eye movements as he read through a paragraph. It showed the eyes darting back and forth across the line. Fixations (pausing) and regressions (skipping backwards) well above normal. Reading rate well below normal.
Doniel is bright and insightful and articulate. But how could he learn spellings when his entire brain is taken up simply trying to track the words on the page.
His training glasses arrive next week. They will teach his eyes to work together. Then Jodi will teach him all the things he’s missed.
And then he’ll no longer bump along at the bottom of the class. It’s a totally new set of life outcomes.