This is a question I get asked a lot – especially by parents who are holding new-born babies in their arms. My recommendation would be to start getting them accustomed to the sound of the language you have chosen straight away – not by engaging a home tutor, but by playing them a CD of nursery rhymes at least once a day.
Wait until they are at least 3-5 before you think about having a language tutor, and then consider making it a family learning experience rather than a lesson just for your child. This will make the experience less intimidating for your child, will enable you all to practise together in between visits from your tutor, and will help your child retain the language better.
As soon as you realise that your child needs some extra help. Struggling at school affects a child’s confidence, and the less confident they become, the harder they will find it to catch up. It’s fine to book a tutor for children as young as 5 or 6 if that is when they are starting to fall behind their classmates, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that they will need extra help for the rest of their school life.
You will need to provide your child with a comfortable space to work, with enough light to see what they are doing, and without distractions from television, siblings or family pets.
You should also provide lined paper, and either a sharp pencil or a ballpoint pen. Your tutor will advise you of anything else you will need.
This is a difficult question to answer, because it depends on so many variables, for example how often you are having a private tutor and how much time your child is practising for in between sessions. It also depends on the individual child – some naturally progress more quickly than others, some may pick up a particular point after just one session, others may need to revisit it several times before they are able to achieve it independently. In general children who have dyslexia or dyscalculia will progress more slowly. However, within the first few sessions you should notice an increase in your child’s confidence, which will obviously help them to make better progress.
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This needs to be a balance between your child’s needs, your tutor’s availability, and your own budget. For one subject, once a week is probably enough, with your child doing some practise on their own in between sessions. If you are having a private tutor for more than one subject, you should consider one hour a week per subject. However, tutors will understand that this is not always possible and it should be possible to split an hour session into, for example, half an hour of maths and half of English.