Never tutored a pre-school aged child before? Questioning if children this age are too young to be tutored? Wondering if you should take a client this young on?
Well to begin with, the parents of the child are obviously impressed with your teaching abilities! Parents want to give their children the best start in life and for a variety of reasons, parents may feel they need professional support outside of their child’s nursery in order to give their child the best start to their schooling career.
As a skilled member of the profession, you would be very aware that the concept of sitting down at a desk for a session of tutoring is out of the question for children this age. This is where the expectations of parents may need to be managed and prior to starting any sessions with their child you will want to explain that sessions will be very hands on and play-based.
There are obviously a variety of age appropriate phonics and number apps that you can use in your sessions, but if you have never tutored or taught a child this young you may find the following useful:
Children should be able to recognise their name on labels and name tags and produce markings on paper that is legible/recognisable as their name. It doesn’t matter at this stage if letter formation is accurate, as this will be taught in school (tutors can definitely encourage it through modelling and guiding though!). Name writing (or any drawing/writing) doesn’t have to mean pencil to paper at this age. ‘Big writing’ with fingers or sticks in sand or paint etc, is also a fun and meaningful experience that helps to strengthen fine motor skills.
- Fine Motor Skills
Adults should encourage and model a correct pencil grip whenever possible but don’t let this be the sole focus of a writing experience, children’s fine motor skills will develop and strengthen at different rates. As well as the aforementioned suggested activity in Tip 1, some other ideas to assist with fine motor development include: treading beads onto string; playdough – rolling, squeezing, cutting, pulling, forming shapes, letters and numbers; practicing opening lunch boxes, school bags and drink bottles etc.
Not only is knowing how to open and close lunchboxes, drink bottles and school bags a fine motor skill, it is also important so a child has a certain level of independence when they start school. Children should also be able to dress and undress themselves, toilet independently (unless there is an additional need of course) and take responsibility of their belongings (placing items back in kit bags etc). *Please note, these are obviously not a tutor’s responsibility but the information can be useful to pass on to parents*
In your tutoring sessions, you can include activities that involve following two and three step instructions, this is a cognitive skill but can also assist in a child independently carrying out tasks.
- Emotional and Social Skills
Children starting school should be able to: participate in cooperative play with their peers; turn take and share; initiate and maintain conversations; listen to others and show empathy and follow known rules. As a tutor, you can incorporate the practicing of these skills in your sessions.
- Cognitive activities
We always encourage name writing, counting up to 20 and counting backwards from 10 (think blast off games!) to be a practiced skill by the time children begin Reception. Starting some 1:1 correspondence by counting concrete materials is age appropriate and you can introduce some beginning maths language such as, ‘one more’, ‘one less’ etc.
Children will probably begin to recognise symbols and signs in the world around them (e.g. the Lego sign, the YouTube symbol, the big yellow M for McDonald’s, numbers on speed signs, letters and numbers on license plates etc.), this can be easy encouraged by adults pointing out these symbols within the home and when out and about in the wider community. Alphabet games and singing the alphabet song is useful too. Puzzles, painting, drawing, card games (e.g. snap and memory games), reading stories and singing songs are all other activities we recommend.
When reading with your client, stop periodically to check for understanding and if the book has a rhyming sequence, pause before the last word to see if children can predict the word.
At Education Boutique, we are committed to supporting our tutors in anyway we can. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions regarding tutoring activities and resources.