View Full Version : Tutors, sitters, and other outside help?

02-16-2011, 02:45 PM
Some days, I get impatient and short and even downright miserable with the kids (hey, look at that -- I'm human!). Usually, though, I'm in a good mood, patient, and calm.

As we look into pulling DD out of PS, my wife has brought up the topic of hiring a tutor to ease my burden and allow myself some alone time during the week. Less stress for all of us, she figures. While I appreciate her concern and the offer, I'm pretty independent, so the thought of having help during the homeschooling adventure feels awkward, as if I'm admitting defeat before I even get there.

I'm considering the pros and cons of this. On one hand, there are tons of things I'd like to have time to do on my own, and I agree that breaks from the kids are good for all of us. Plus, we see the kids respond better to others than to us (they're not terrible with me, but with a teacher or tutor, they are more focused and don't whine). So, with a private tutor, I'd still have lots of time with them as I take them to extracurriculars and do art, music, and science with them. Another option is to do all the academic work myself and hire a sitter a few hours a week to allow myself a break (cheaper and less "intrusion").


I worry about how having a tutor and working with me might lead to a lack of continuity for the kids and maybe create a disconnect b/t us. I mean, shouldn't I be with the kids all day every day if I HS? (The money isn't an issue, as I could pick up enough work in this new-found free time to pay for this.) I also cringe a bit at the thought of inviting someone into our lives on such a regular, intimate level. Plus, I don't like the idea of having to manage another person. Finally, HS is my job. What's the point of HS if I just hire someone to do a bulk of the teaching? Then again, whether it's a co-op or music lessons, many HS'ers do rely on others regularly.

Of course, there are lots of different ways this could look, from a daily tutor to a 2x/week sitter, so I'd just have to see what's best for us all.

What are your thoughts and experiences with tutors or sitters on a regular basis?

02-16-2011, 02:54 PM
We do most of our HS "in house," but I've recently signed on for three things: a one-hour 1-on-1 art tutor with a friend who's a professional artist, a weekly group science class, and aikido classes. It adds up to about 4 hours per week, which isn't much in the grand scheme of things. They get exposure to other adults and kids, I get time to read a book and relax, and they learn things from experts. I think it's a good thing if it's appealing to you and the kids, especially if you're a person who feels some accumulated stress with 24/7 childrearing. Like me. It helps me keep my cool when things aren't going perfectly, since it rarely does.

I don't do what I've seen some other parents do, though -- just drop the kids off and then leave for a couple of hours -- because I'm frankly not that trusting. I'm there, but on the other side of the room and in my own head.

02-16-2011, 03:02 PM
I feel like it is actually sort of important to get my kids used to listening to and working with other adults as teachers. I'm not doing this because I think I'm the absolute *only* person who can teach my kids. But I don't know anyone personally who has a tutor or a sitter... oh wait, I take that back, someone we hung out with some last year was working full time and had a college student who helped school her 1st grader. Anyway, we do outside classes and co-ops and I really appreciate that my kids have developed relationships with other adults - and the relationships that I've developed with other kids. But unless I was working a lot outside the home, I wouldn't feel a need for a sitter or a tutor - especially not until high school for a tutor.

02-16-2011, 04:29 PM
I could see the advantage if there is a certain subject you don't feel comfortable teaching, but otherwise I wouldn't see the point. On the other hand, I can't think of any drawbacks to having a tutor, except the expense.

We have started incorporating "quiet time" into our day, when possible. The kids go to their respective rooms (doors closed) to play alone for an hour. They can only come out for using the bathroom, injury, or other emergency. It gives me a nice break to read a book and enjoy some peace and quiet. It really makes me calmer and more patient, I think. The kids also get a break from each other, which they need too.

Stella M
02-16-2011, 04:38 PM
Something I found helpful when my kids were younger was having a mother's helper ( a homeschool teen we knew ) come over once a week for a couple of hours. That gave me some down-time. I second the idea that it's important children learn to be comfortable being taught by someone other than their Mum/Dad; my girls learnt through ballet, my boy has done a few different things this year - h/s gym, h/s swimming lessons, activities at the library. Maybe a tutor would work for your family.

The idea of having an in-home tutor sounds good! I have to say though, that homeschool success imho ( however you define that) really is built on time spent with the kids, learning the details of their personalities, their ways of learning, and developing patience and perseverance in oneself.

You shouldn't have to be with the kids 24/7 though. If it were me, I'd go with the sitter for as many breaks as you feel you need and can afford. Don't forget this is all a work in progress - you'll settle into a way of working with the kids.

Good luck with whatever you and your wife decide. And if you don't need that tutor - send her over here!! (A tutor is my shameful dream ).

Miguels mommy
02-16-2011, 04:53 PM
We've thought of putting our son in after school daycare for a three hour break. With Co-op we teach other children all day so it's not really a break. Bed times is a must in this house. We get a two hour break because of a free art class. The YMCA, kids fun center, also has parents night out on Fridays we can use at a whim. Then there's science classes and other things like that he participates in. We've also spread his work throughout 13 hour days so it's not as overwhelming.

02-16-2011, 05:09 PM
I use a tutor 3 days a week. Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday. His name is Vann and he is a graduate student from UH @ Manoa. My DD is taking algebra II and I do her book work with her during m-f BUT this is her hard subject. I assign "homework" and instead of me getting upset because I have to teach it two or three times to her.. HE does it mouahahhahahahhahahahhaha I am lloooooooving this. He is a different person so as someone above me said she doesnt whine and complain and frustrate him simply because he is NOT momma! HE ALSO brings in a different perspective. When I teach algebra II .. I guess I kind of relate it all to science, when HE does it, he relates his feelings for the language of maths. Granted he has written some nice papers on Kepler planets etc... its alllll about the math. I cant explain it I guess but its really working for all 3 of us. He is getting practice at teaching (he thought he might want to do that but has now decided it would be too labour intensive if he had more than 1-2 students). I am getting RELIEF from trying to teach my daughter something that is so easy for me and so hard for her. DD is getting the double whammy with maths help as all the things she "wants to do when she grows up" are deeply science and math related. She loves astro physics.. but balks at the math involved. I would hate to see her miss something she would love forever and ever because she was worried about maths. Right now she is on about marine biology, planetary biology or astronomy (read SHE NEEDS TO KNOW MATHS). So.. I pay the tutor $20 and hour. I also cook dinners for him when he is here and wrap it up to go for when he is done. He doesnt stick to exactly an hour..he helps ehr until something is clear.

OUTSIDE help.. I send her to 3d animation and fine arts classes on wed and fri. Its 3 hours of freedom for me ..or it was until I brought the young one back to HS this week. Still trying to get him straight and I will be looking for something for him to do "outside" that coincides with the DD's 3 hour away time.

ETA he also helps ME by constantly telling me a 13 yr old getting through Algebra II is quite a feat and I should really be proud of her.. and i was..but I am EVEN more now.

02-16-2011, 05:29 PM
ETA he also helps ME by constantly telling me a 13 yr old getting through Algebra II is quite a feat and I should really be proud of her.. and i was..but I am EVEN more now.

My co-op moms all help each other with this and it's so vital. Someone will be down because their kid is having trouble with reading or math or something and will get into this comparison thing - Oh, but your kid is already reading chapter books or doing multiplication or whatever. And then the rest of us will chime in with, oh, but your kid has been so compassionate while mine was bullying everyone else or, oh, but your kid can do those amazing drawings and mine are struggling to even make a circle kinds of comments and then we all feel better. Same thing with teaching and our different strengths and approaches. Sometimes an outside perspective on yourself and your kid is so useful. But it doesn't have to be a formal teacher or a tutor or anything. For me, that's part of why I have my community.

02-16-2011, 05:55 PM
Same thing with teaching and our different strengths and approaches. Sometimes an outside perspective on yourself and your kid is so useful. But it doesn't have to be a formal teacher or a tutor or anything. For me, that's part of why I have my community.

It really is. Even here.. i feel.. kinda of strange sometimes. I am not REALLY sure what "all the other kids" are up to. Some are the same, some are very different... and I almost feel bad to say anything for fear of offending someone somehow. I have never belonged to a co op or anything. So much of our HS experience has been strictly "just us". We go through whatever gets done and there really is no set structure. I havent done a lot of comparing and I even refuse to look at state testing reports. I just rip and trash them. Until my tutor said I can relax she is way ahead of where her peers are on the particular subject.. i think some how some way something inside of ME (not DD) was worried if she didnt GET the material she would be falling behind. ... Perspective was a nice thing :)

02-16-2011, 05:57 PM
Thanks everyone.

Yes, there will be lessons and classes and gym nights during which I'll have some down time, and I like the idea of the 'one hour of quiet time a day' built into our daily schedule. I don't see us having something to go do every day of the week, so I could arrange a sitter twice weekly maybe.

I wish I could rely on DW for something regular, like Friday afternoons for instance, but her work involves lots of traveling and strange hours (which is one reason I began staying home in the first place).

While I like to have complete control and interaction on the academic front, I do see the benefit of having the kids relating to another adult regularly.


Stella M
02-16-2011, 06:06 PM
If your partner works odd/long hours, then I think you're wise to be thinking about respite via a tutor or sitter. Homeschooling pretty much solo is a recipe for burnout. I admire the forethought you and your wife are putting into your decision.

02-19-2011, 10:06 PM
I am very open to using tutors as extra help for subject areas where it is needed. I would not want to just turn all the academic subjects over to a tutor but getting some outside help can be the perfect solution sometimes. Our 7 yo spends an hour a week with a language arts tutor, but it is not a break for me - we meet her at a library and I entertain our 5 yo in the play area while he has his session. I sought her out because he has visual processing issues and was very behind in reading and writing and I felt he needed some expert help, and she has a lot of training and experience. It is working out very well. She does not take over the entire subject - she supplements what I do with him the rest of the week. Tutors can be great. When I was in high school, I was truly stuck in algebra I and unable to get any help from the school, so my mother found an excellent tutor for me and she made a huge difference...for my grades, my self esteem, and I went on to earn an engineering degree...an excellent tutor can make a real difference.

As far as getting break....if I could find a mother's helper to come half a day per week and I had the time for it (I don't), I would love to do that. It's not going to happen here....but that would be awesome. I get my breaks after they go to bed, and sometimes getting to shop for groceries by myself (woo hoo !)

02-27-2011, 09:32 PM
I home schooled the first time around when my two older kids were your kids' ages, and while we did have some outside classes and co-op-y things, in retrospect I wish I would have had some outside help. Even if it wasn't anything formal, just having a college kid come in once a week for a few hours to help out would have been hugely beneficial. Part of the reason I burnt out that time around was that it just felt like the whole thing was on my shoulders. My husband is brilliant and great-but he traveled a lot-and I couldn't depend on him for "regular" lessons or backup. My motto is get all the help you can! Call it whatever you want, have the sitter/tutor do whatever-but you go someplace and give yourself a real and true break.