Tutoring – how young is too young?

With a degree in Early Years, experience teaching in top London nurseries and nannying for several thrusty families; trust me, I have seen every side of the story. Additionally, as a pre-prep consultant, I am often asked for tutors to prepare for the pesky 4+ entrance assessments to London pre-prep schools. With the right nursery choice, the learning environment will be stimulating enough that any extra tuition shouldn’t be necessary – even a prep school head equated tutoring at this age to tearing up £20 notes! I would never actively encourage my families to seek additional support at this stage; should they ask for it, I would direct them to their child’s teachers. Being responsible for exacerbating the pressure and anxiety on the shoulders of these tired little people? No thank you.

Clearly I don’t believe tuition is altogether unnecessary, tuition for the right reasons – and when delivered sensitively - is immensely effective at building confidence or identifying individual learning styles that may not have been detected in the classroom. I benefitted hugely from extra tuition at GCSE, and I would never deny those looking to supplement their learning in order to flourish at the schools of their dreams.

The concept of children’s love for learning being fortified by extra tuition at nursery-age, is questionable. While never too young to learn, too much didactic instruction at such a young age is likely to dull their natural curiosity. However, Early Years-trained tutors can provide stimulation and a structured environment for children going through transition periods (moving from abroad for example), or provide sensitive and creative English language support – ensuring non-native speakers are getting the most out of nursery.

The advice I give is almost patronisingly obvious: children at this age need to sleep, to eat supper at the table, to be read to by their parents and to play with other children - must every experience must be educational? In the majority of cases, any minor gaps tend to close up by the end of reception class.

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