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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We're thinking of hiring a tutor to help give some direction to our homeschooling because with four different kids different ages, the oldest two 7 and 9, I could use some help giving them a *little* academic structure. I'm an unschooler at heart, but my oldest isn't!
Has anyone here used a tutor? This guy is wonderful and totally has a heart for homeschooling.

We're thinking of having him come once a week and spending one whole morning here---reviewing their work and setting goals for the week, keeping us all accountable, and especially having the kids be accountable to someone other than me. They do not listen well or hold good accountability when it is just me. Plus, it will be SUCH a relief to me to have someone to guide us in our homeschool journey.

Thoughts, anyone?
 

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Well, my first impulse was to wince - but if he's someone you all feel really, really feel good about, how about at least giving him a good book to read before giving him the reins? I had a tutor a few times, and he didn't click as much with the groups of children I got him together with as I had thought he would. Some were bored with the way he presented things. I used another one for math a few times, and that was okay - she mostly did some games, but some of the "lessons" she threw in weren't interesting enough to inspire my son's interest. It was when he was much older that he had a great experience with a tutor - because he simply told her exactly what math concepts he wanted help with for his upcoming SAT test, and went about learning them with her help and that of books he picked out for himself.

Anyway, back to the reading:

Maybe something like:
The Homeschool Reader: Collected Articles from Home Education Magazine

And maybe things to refer to such as:

The Ultimate Book of Homeschooling Ideas: 500+ Fun and Creative Learning Activities for Kids Ages 3-12

And maybe a fun math activities book like
I Hate Mathematics!

And/or a Theoni Pappas book like
Fractals, Googols, and Other Mathematical Tales

Or something from the FUN-Books catalog math page.

And ooh! Joy Hakim's history series, especially the one that combines history and science - something to have interesting discussions about.

There are wonderful people who may feel great about homeschooling but have a vision of a somewhat creative mini-version of school in mind, and that doesn't necessarily fit well with an individualized homeschooling experience. I personally wouldn't want them to have to set goals and be accountable to anyone. The most meaningful meaning is about exploring curiosity rather than being accountable. I'd rather seem them all take things as they come and turn to him to help explore their interests, providing support and inspiration, stimulation, interesting materials, and tips. I think you and the children should be guiding how his expertise is going to be utilized - rather than him coming in and taking over their learning adventures.

Well, I hope it works out and that it's something that's fun for everyone.
Lillian
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
The idea is NOT for him to come in and take over, and he has asked and continues to ask many, many questions about the kids' interests and goals, and passions. I'm just looking for someone to help provide us a little structure and support. But thank you for the good ideas, too.

Anyone have a good experience with a tutor?
 

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When I worked as a homeschool facilitator with a charter school, I pretty much did what you describe with some of my families... not with all of them, because some didn't want that, but with the ones that did. I enjoyed it, and I think it was beneficial to them, too.

I've also done a lot of more traditional tutoring, but that's very different what what you describe...

dar
 

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I think with the right person it could be great. We have an informal tutoring type situation with a friend of mine who teaches English at the local Community College. My daughter emails stories to her and they discuss them back and forth and she works on them with her. My father has also taken over American History with her, which is another big help.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Cool, I'm glad to hear about good experiences. We hand-picked this wonderful tutor and I think it should be a great experience. American history, wow, you are one motivated mamma. I think I talked about the civil war and the revolutionary war a couple years back, but I forgot about it after that.

I'm looking forward to hearing about anyone else's experience with tutoring, good OR bad, so chime in mammas! It will broaden my thinking to hear others' experiences. Maybe also help me to know if there are pitfalls to be avoided.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by freestyler View Post
American history, wow, you are one motivated mamma. I think I talked about the civil war and the revolutionary war a couple years back, but I forgot about it after that.
This is why my dad is teaching it. I went to public school and remember almost nothing about history. My dad loves history, particulary Civil war history. He has a pretty extensive personal library on the subject. They are probably going to get to the Civil war era by spring, and then they are going to start a family research project. My great-grandfather was in the civil war and was the assistant to a well-know northern general. We recently discovered his company fought near where we live now. They are going to work on digging up more information on him. We have his parade sword, and it will be cool to learn more of our family history. My dad is getting quite old, 81, so I'm very glad my daughter gets to spend some special time with him.
 

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I love having good tutors. We have a tutor who teaches my sons Russian and math (but the language of instruction is Russian). He's a great guy--young, energetic and he loves math. My wonderful dh travels much of the time, so having a positive, young guy around is a big plus. He teaches in my husband's office, which is one floor below our apartment. This I also love because it means the boys get to go somewhere each day, another plus during the long Russian winter.

The downside is that he wants nothing to do with the math programs (Miquon, Saxon 2 and Saxon 4/5, and Singapore) I have given him. He agreed to use them, feigned interest and then stuck them on a shelf where, no doubt, they will remain. I wish he would use them, but his English isn't that great and he thinks they involve too much busy work and they make math more difficult than it is.

So they do problem sheets of his own making, the odd workbook or two and lots of model making, geometric art, building projects, maps making, etc. They have a great time. My sons' math skills are weirdly advanced, so I'm trying to let him run the show. They are having fun, and never seem to tire of their lessons. They never complain about having to "go to the office" and trott off cheerfully.

They have also learned to read and write in Russian.

We also have a piano teacher, an art teacher and a chess teacher. All of them are very good in different ways, and I find they bring lots of positive energy into the house. My children get focused one-on-one attention from a caring, intelligent adult who something worthwhile to teach, so I like that too.

I do the reading, literature, spelling, handwriting, science, some five in a row and history. (At their current ages this means that I just read a lot, and listen to them read) I love math, too, so we play math games sometimes.

I imagine I could try to teach all these things to them myself--except Russian and piano, of course. I read all the time about these great homeschooling moms who do it all themselves and I do see some of the advantages to that. Some would even question if what we really do is homeschooling. But it works for us in the moment. I'm keeping my kids close, going at their pace, enjoying their (almost) constant company, and loving it. They are together, which they love, and home, which they also love.

Wow. I wrote more than I planned, too. I hope this helps in some way.

BTW, we return to the US in a year and all of this great affordable tutoring will come to an end. We do intend to find a Russian language tutor (after all the work my kids have done learning Russian, I'd hate for them to lose it.) but the rest comes back to me. So we'll all enjoy it while we can.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
That's cool Suziek. That sounds like a great situation. And you mentioned the cost of this in the US, gads, you are so right! The tutor is EXPENSIVE, and he even lowered his rates to $40 an hour for us. But at 3-6 hours a week, probably 3, that is still one huge chunk of moolah. I'm not sure how to handle this, what to cut out. We're planning to have him come on Monday mornings to sort of set the academic table for the week, and then I guide them the rest of the week (kind of like piano.)

I know what you mean. You hear about all these amazing moms who teach their kids EVERYTHING, and I'm scratching my head wondering how they do it without getting burned out. And I'm an unschooler at heart---and I STILL get burned out! But imagine these amazing moms or dads who teach their kids every week, either formally or informally, for years on end, especially in families with lots of kids....and how they do this is beyond me! I crave quiet time and my kids have to be self-directed, because we have four kids and I can just barely keep up with meals and laundry and toddler chasing. Gads, I just get totally burned out by 10 AM if I try to do structured sitting down with them. I'm cool with practicing piano with the two older ones for their practice time every morning, but that's as much structure as I can stand! Now the oldest is starting to demand structure and academics (I don't know how long this phase of hers will last, if it's temporary or not), so I'm thinking, a tutor will help her achieve that and I can be having quiet time and time with the other kids.

I find myself stretched way too thin with four kids to have much one-on-one time with each one. I'm finding the best way for one-on-one is to have a third party come and help teach, the tutor or piano teacher.

I think I'm a very organized person, but it turns out that my organization does not really extend to homeschooling!
I'm just way too unschooling at heart.

And by the way SuzieK, I definitely think that having all those teachers/tutors you mentioned, that is still totally homeschooling. I think that anything that takes place off the conveyor belt of "school," counts as homeschooling. Whether it's structured HSing, unschooling, 100% outdoor activities like camping and hiking (this is our thing!), or a few tutors and teachers, it is all off the conveyor belt and therefore good. (As long as everyone is happy!)

It is hard though, financially and otherwise. But the financial and lifestyle constraints of a good, artsy, nature-based private school, would be even harder.

Please keep sharing your tutor stories, everyone!
 

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I'm following this with a lot of interest. Freestyler, how old are your 4? I was looking forward to doing some academics with my 10 and 12 yos while my 3yo went to a fun sitter's a few times a week. Well, now he's hit a major separation snag and we're all here every day! So, a tutor to help with the academics could be a good solution, since we're saving on the childcare money
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by suziek View Post
The downside is that he wants nothing to do with the math programs (Miquon, Saxon 2 and Saxon 4/5, and Singapore) I have given him. He agreed to use them, feigned interest and then stuck them on a shelf where, no doubt, they will remain. I wish he would use them, but his English isn't that great and he thinks they involve too much busy work and they make math more difficult than it is.

So they do problem sheets of his own making, the odd workbook or two and lots of model making, geometric art, building projects, maps making, etc. They have a great time. My sons' math skills are weirdly advanced, so I'm trying to let him run the show. They are having fun, and never seem to tire of their lessons. They never complain about having to "go to the office" and trott off cheerfully.
Sounds like an upside to me rather than a downside
. I took my son to a math tutoring center when he was 9 or 10 to see how he tested - because we hadn't been systematically using any program either, and his dad was getting worried about it. I left him there for an hour for an evaluation with the head tutor and owner of the center. When I came back to pick him up, she was almost giddy - she said he was way ahead of the game, understood and appreciated "real math" (unlike the kids she spends most of her time trying to undo damage for that has been caused by making math boring and laborious) and had no need of her services. He never got all that interested in spending time with math, even though he was good at it - but when it was time to take his SAT, he simply took a sample test out of a prep book, picked out a few good math books, and went back to the same center to have a tutor go over with him some of the questions he'd missed on the SAT sample test. He did well on the test.

Here's an interesting article by David Albert on how little time it can take to cover basic math: Just Do the Math!

- Lillian
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
WOW, that is a great article!

Thank you!

My kids are 9, 7, 4 and 2. Three girls and one boy (the 7-yr-old is a boy.)

I'm totally wanting to send my kids to that Sudbury Valley School now, what a fantastic place, goodness.

UPDATE: Well, the tutor has been here a couple of times and I have to say, I DO NOT like it. He kind of takes over and does not make any effort to communicate with me, like he "owns" my kids almost. And holy crapola, he had never heard of cuisinaire rods, Tangrams, or other cool math tools. I sorta lost confidence when I realized how narrow his math ideas are. He is a TERRIFIC naturalist but maybe, ummm, we don't really need a tutor. I'm not comfortable with him being in my space and taking over something I've been doing for years (or not doing!) with the kids.

Lillian J was pretty much on target. It makes me wince too. Score one for Lillian!
Also, I don't really care for him as a person that much. He's really nice, but somehow, it does not click. There's nothing I can put my finger on exactly, just don't feel comfortable.

Our time can be better spent. And the money, we just cannot afford his prices.
 
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