The education stats in South Africa are still pretty bleak. Only 38.9% of learners who enter the Senior Phase actually obtain a National Senior Certificate at the end of Grade 12.

Sometimes the cause for decreasing academic success can be traced back to the Foundation Phase as early on as Grade 1. And when a learner isn’t given the academic support they need from day one it sets a precedent for future learning obstacles and possible failure.

The big question is how to choose the right academic support services for a learner who is battling with their academics?

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Private Tutors at Your Service!

As you begin your search for private tutors you’ll probably be questioning your choices at every turn. 

Firstly, a private tutor does more than just improve academic performance. Tutors often take on a mentoring role and can be a great source of encouragement to students whose morale has taken a beating.

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A tutor can become a very influential person in a student's life and provide great encouragement - Unsplash

Of course the chief objective when it comes to extra tutoring is to provide academic support and this can mean so many things. Apart from providing greater insight into the subject-matter in a syllabus that a learner may be struggling with, tutoring services also include a variety of other valuable services.

A tutee may be equipped with better study skills, receive help with test-prep and exams and enjoy enrichment activities through a personalised tailor-made tutoring program that really focuses on a learner’s strengths and weaknesses.

Keep these points in mind as you search for the best tutors for your particular needs. Sometimes it helps to use a referral from fellow students in order to find a good tutor but the safest bet is just to make an appointment to meet them in person.

These are some points to discuss with a potential tutor:

  • What level you are at.
  • What are the particular weaknesses that need to be addressed?
  • Does your learning style work well with the tutor’s teaching style?
  • What times do you have available for private tutoring sessions?
  • Are you looking for online tutoring or one-on-one / home tutoring?
  • Do you prefer the idea of small-group tutoring sessions or individualized tutoring?
  • What is your budget?
  • Are you planning on using professional tutoring as a long-term solution ore do you have a short-term goal in mind?

There are also some important questions to ask your child if you are looking for a private tutor for them:

  • Do they have a problem with the way a subject is being taught in school?
  • Are they finding a particular subject boring?
  • Do they feel stressed, confused or struggling with time-management?
  • Is your child on board with the idea of supplemental instruction?

Remember that you might not find a tutor that ticks every single box. Make sure you know which criteria are your non-negotiable priorities and start from there.

Getting in Touch With Someone Who Can Tutor Me

The next step is to make contact with a tutoring agency or you may decide to connect with individuals in your area that offer private tutoring. Whichever avenue you decide to take it’s best to make your request as comprehensive as possible from the beginning.

Let Potential Tutors Know the Following:

  • What kind of tuition you are in search of whether it’s someone who can provide help with homework assignments, assist in catching up with coursework or providing study tips. You may just be looking for general academic resources or perhaps you help with specific subjects such as math and science.
  • Is this academic tutoring for primary or high school? Perhaps it’s for a university student.
  • What is your goal? Passing the next set of exams? Need a reading tutor to help with your English and comprehension skills? Etc.
  • What are the specific problems?
  • Exactly what days and times you have available for tutoring sessions.
  • Are you in search of home tutors or online tutors or do they provide tutoring for groups?
  • Your time-frame: is this just for the sake of some intensive catch-up or are you hoping to get academic support for the school year?

Where Is the Best Place to Look for Private Tutors?

Firstly you can rely on word-of-mouth and choose tutors based on referrals from fellow students or parents.

There is also the option of checking your local paper under the classified section but the only draw-back to this is that you won’t have to opportunity to read reviews from other parents/learners.

Sometimes you can even find great personal tutors on sites like Gumtree and OLX.

If you’re planning to search online then it’s definitely worth looking into using tutoring platforms such as Superprof that are specifically geared to provide quality tutoring services. These platforms tend to be user-friendly and hassle-free which is great if it’s your fist time requesting a tutor.

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Online tutoring is a great choice if you're looking for maximum flexibility - Unsplash

Each site will have its own fee structure, either charging a percentage of the tutor’s fee or charging an admin fee for contacting the tutor of your choice. Superprof has a network of tutors from all over the world, most of whom offer a free trial lesson where you can get an idea of their teaching methods and discuss your specific academic needs etc.

There’s a good chance that you may have tutoring centres in your area if you feel more comfortable working with an organisation. They will be able to offer you various options such as individual tutoring, home tutoring or even group tutoring sessions.

However a company that specialises in tutoring usually charges a slightly higher fee than independent tutors.

Are There Academic Support Options That Are Free of Charge?

For anyone that is on a tight budget the idea of supplementary learning support can be overwhelming but there are various options you can look into in order to mitigate expenses.

The best place to start is by speaking to your school or place of study. Many schools offer supplemental after-school tutoring often in the form of extra classes. Although these lessons may be standardized because it tends to be a smaller group there is more room for one-on-one attention and it provides a safer space for shy learners to speak up and ask questions.

Many after-care facilities offer support for learners who need assistance with homework which is a great option for working parents. If your kids need help, make sure that the staff at your child’s after-care are aware of their specific needs.

You could also speak to other parents and form your own study groups for kids that are nervous about upcoming exams and tests.

Sometimes peer tutors can be arranged through the school too, these are kids who don’t have any experience in tutoring but have strong academic skills and are happy to help their peers. Schedule an appointment with the class teacher and see if they would be willing to facilitate a peer tutoring program.

Often there are charitable education programs that are run either by the local municipality of by organisations within the community such as churches and youth centers. Speak to your municipality or even your local library to find out what kind of student resources are being made available for the upliftment of the youth.

Sometimes simply using the library in your home town can be a wonderful learning environment and a quiet place for learners to study and do research for projects especially when there is a need for computer and internet access. More and more provincial libraries are being set up with reliable internet and computer facilities.

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Libraries can be a wonderful source of calm and quiet in this busy world, perfect for studying - Unsplash

You can also look into exchanging skills for tutoring. There are various apps and sites that are set up to help people to barter professional skills. You may find a private tutor who is in need of a book keeper and you could exchange a few hours of book keeping for a few hours of tutoring.

And let’s not forget the power of the internet! There are now so many learning resources that can be accessed for free online, such as Gapup and the Department of Education's Mind the Gap study guide series, which are focused on helping Grade 12 learners prepare for their exams.

Some private tutors even have their own websites where they provide free access to an array of quality learning materials so that learners and parents can work on academic skills independently.

The kind of supplementary learning resources that learners get can make or break their academic performance when the education system isn’t doing enough to provide learners with the skills they need to excel.

Sometimes it takes a bit of trial and error to figure out the perfect academic or tutoring program but if you persist then with the help of individuals who have experience in tutoring as well as the huge amount of learning resources made available on the internet you are bound to see fantastic student success!

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Kyla

Born from a family of creatives, Kyla has a passion for the arts and interior design.