university student tutoring child
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5 reasons why university students make excellent maths tutors

At Metatutor, all of our tutors are university students at either the University of the West of England or University of Bristol.

I purposely choose to only take on university students because I believe that they make excellent maths tutors, and our results certainly back that theory up.

Here are five reasons why university students make excellent maths tutors (I have left out that they are intelligent because, well, that’s obvious!):

1. They are young people who the kids will have a lot in common with.
This is the most important aspect of what we do. From my experience when I was a university student back in the early 2010s, I had the opportunity to do some tutoring as a part-time job. I was initially worried that because I was so young and wasn’t a qualified teacher, the kids wouldn’t listen to me. But I was pleasantly surprised by just how much respect I was shown, despite my tender age. When I had a chance to reflect on it, it makes a lot of sense. I was only 5 or 6 years older than the kids I was helping, so when they saw me, they didn’t see a teacher – they instead saw me as more of a peer or an older brother. For all of you parents of a 16-year-old reading this – let me set a scene for you. Imagine you have hired a maths tutor for your son/daughter. Who do you think they would rather have round to help them with their maths – a 20-year-old student wearing casual clothes, or a 60-year-old retired teacher wearing a suit and a tie? Now obviously that’s a sweeping generalisation about the two demographics there but you get my point! I think it’s fair to say an overwhelming majority would choose the former. The 20-year-old student is much more likely to have things in common with the child – they can chat to them about the sports or the clothes or the music or the TV that they like. And although you may think this could become a distraction from what they are there to do, it will make the child feel so much more relaxed and therefore so much more willing to do the work. I have found from experience that the better the connection between tutor and tutee, the better results the tuition brings. And this actually has not only an academic benefit to the child, but potentially also a non-academic benefit.

2. They did the exams very recently.
Maths exams and specifications change regularly. I did my maths GCSE in 2010, and when I started tutoring in around 2016 I noticed many things had been added to the specification. Then, in 2017, things changed again when 9-1 was brought in. For this reason it is very beneficial to have a tutor who studied these exams recently, so that they are up to date with the content and have experience in it – they were in the same position not long ago! Additionally, because they only did it 3-5 years ago, it is fresher in their memory.

3. Diversity.
The fact that our tutors are studying at university in Bristol means that the majority of them grew up in different parts of the country. We have tutors from Wales, Yorkshire, London, almost anywhere in the UK you can think of. This is a good thing because it brings with it diversity of teaching methods. Different areas tend to teach things differently. I can remember countless examples when I’ve been training a new tutor and sharing my way of teaching, and they will mention a way they were taught. Because they grew up in a different area to me, I may never have seen this way before. And often, the way they show me is brilliant, and I add it to my arsenal. As a maths tutor, it’s really important to have multiple ways of teaching a single topic, because some students will respond well to a method and others won’t. A topic may make no sense to a student the way it was taught in school, but a new method of teaching could make all the difference and make things suddenly click. So this is a huge benefit to our tutees.

4. It’s something a little different.
Because our tutors are university students, they won’t have gone through the teacher training that their teachers at school have. For many school pupils, the way of teaching at school just doesn’t work for whatever reason. So if you’re going to get some additional support, why would you try the same thing but in the home? Whilst the training school teachers receive is invaluable, in my opinion the fact that our tutors haven’t done that is an advantage. In a similar way to point 3 above, this will give our students a different way of tackling things and may just mean that things start to make sense.

5. Introducing them to higher education.
Having a university student as a maths tutor can also introduce your son/daughter to the idea of going to university. When I was 16, I was nonplussed about the idea of going to university. If your son/daughter is the same, talking to their tutor about their current experience at university – the things they do on a daily basis, the lectures, the campus life, the friends they have made – might just make them think about going themselves! Or make them think it’s not for them – either way, this opportunity to speak to and get to know somebody currently at university will help them to weigh up the pros and cons and make an informed decision.

So there are five reasons why university students make excellent maths tutors. If you feel like this could benefit your son or daughter, book in a free taster session here.

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