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Math&English tuition for 4yrs old. Necessary?

(53 Posts)
SRose Fri 02-Feb-18 10:22:31

May I have some advice from experienced mums please??

DD1 was born in the UK but we moved to France when she was 3( she attented local French school.). We recently came back to London and she started attending a local school(reception).
Although she can speak English it’s not as good as other children at her age - she never learnt English before.
Both of DH and I are non-native English speakers.

We weren’t worried about her English( actually we were more concerned about keeping her other languages) as we thought she’d pick it up at school, however, yesterday, I was stopped by a sales person from a leaning centre( tutoring kids from 4yrs old using computer) and she told me DD1 needed language support as her English was behind.
I booked a trial lesson, but I’m wobdering if it’s really necessary at this stage??

And I’m not sure if it’s efficient to start the tuition when she doesn’t understand English enough to keep up with the lesdons?

Has anyone had similar experience???

Thank you very much!

sirfredfredgeorge Fri 02-Feb-18 10:30:57

Of course it's not necessary, she's 4, it's reception the lessons are play based, presumably as you're in London the school has plenty of experience with non-native and weak English speakers.

If your child is behind (and it's pretty unlikely at 4 without you knowing since that would be really quite obvious, and such a child would not be ready for any sort of tuition) then what they need is not tuition but more English practice - playing with English kids and listening to English stories will do much more for that.

Cancel the listen!

JJPP123 Fri 02-Feb-18 10:35:08

Argh I hate all this tutoring of little children. I think you're right, there's no need. Just let her play woth English children, her language will improve in no time.

SRose Fri 02-Feb-18 10:48:46

I don’t want it, either;)
The sales lady scared me by saying that DD1 would struggle & would be too late if she didn’t start the tutoring now...!
( I guess that lady targeted me coz I’m a foreigner!!)

Thank you again!

SRose Fri 02-Feb-18 10:56:52

Thank you!
I am cancelling it now;)

The lady even asked me if DD could write ..( She can write her name and I was happy with that, but according to the lady it’s not good enough, which made me terrified!)

Thanks for your advice! Very helpfulsmile

idontlikealdi Fri 02-Feb-18 10:58:24

Right decision!

irvineoneohone Fri 02-Feb-18 11:09:31

Where did this lady approached you? Sound very odd how does she know she is behind in English etc? If this sales person approached you near the school, I would warn the school. It's horrible way to sell using scare tactics.

braindrain17 Fri 02-Feb-18 11:15:25

Raising two bilingual children myself (they only started English at nursery when they were 3) I will say that I've found the whole myth "children absorb languages like sponges" just that. A myth. They do pick up languages extremely quickly, BUT to get to the same level as a monolingual child in terms of vocabulary it takes several years (And I don't mean a couple of years but literally several!). There is no doubt your DD will catch up, but it will take time. So if you don't have any plans for 5+ or 7+ assessments, then no need for tutoring. Just arrange as many play dates as you can and ideally spend some time reading to her in English. If on the other hand you have any plans to put her through any sort of competitive process in the near term, then she will probably need more structured help. And by that I don't mean tutoring via a computer programme btw, as at that age children absorb language via human interaction mainly.

SRose Fri 02-Feb-18 11:24:09

The learning centre is located inside a big Sainsbury’s near DD’s school and we always walk in front of it after school.
I was actually stopped by a different sales guy from the learning centre first, but I told him I wasn’t interested.
(While I was talking to him, this lady approached DD1.)
When I left the guy, she stopped me to tell me that DD1 needed language support as she noticed DD1’s English was behind....

When I think about it now, it was their tactics! One person stops a mum(foreign looking), another person talks to kids. Then approach the mum pretending she/he is concerned about her kids’s Language skills etc...!!

I’ll talk to DD’s teacher on Monday & warn my ‘foreign’ mum friends;)

SRose Fri 02-Feb-18 11:41:04

Thanks! That’s interesting.
Yes, I do agree on the myth! ( Ecept for some lucky kids!)

Our daughters are in 4 language environment, and I can see it’s not a easy life for DDssad

When we moved to France, everyone told me DDs will learn French in 3 months as kid’s brain is like sponge...I wish!!!grin She only started speaking some French just before moving back to the UK...

I guess she will neeed some sort of tuition at some point, but I will wait until DD’s English level goes up more. ( not considering exams, maybe till 11+)
I was a bit panicked when I was told that it’d be too late if she didn’t start now especially we aren’t native English speakers & can’t give her enough support...!

Great to hear from experience parent like you!
Thank yousmile

Mamabear12 Fri 02-Feb-18 12:52:08

I would be more worried she will forget whatever French she learned, which will be the case if you do not keep it up at home. She will catch up in English soon enough, with that being the language of environment and at school. I would focus on reading her French books at home and keeping that up or she will forget it all.

SRose Fri 02-Feb-18 13:25:09

I speak French, but again, it’s not my 1st language and DH doesn’t speak any if we don’t do anything, she will forget all French for sure...which is a shame.
I’m trying to talk to kids and teach my own language but it’s difficult to keep balance with other languages.
( ATM letting them watch Peppa pig in Frenchgrin and looking for some fun French courses for them.)

Maybe I think too much...there are so many families with multilingual background who are doing great.;)

brilliotic Fri 02-Feb-18 14:10:32

In my home country there is a fair number of tri-lingual families; where parent 1 speaks one language, parent 2 another, and they live in a third language area. This can work fine, though the language of the non-primary-carer takes most conscious effort to keep up. It is also supported by the general attitude towards languages, and general multilingual contexts, in the country.
Any fourth language would come less 'naturally' and so would require much more conscious effort, and needs to be a long term plan; it is a bit pointless e.g. to have a x language speaking nanny if you will then give up that language when the child starts school.

You could consider focusing on three languages for now (yours/your DHs/English as the local language), and perhaps just keep a little ongoing exposure (e.g. that Peppa Pig you mentioned) to that fourth language, French, with a view on perhaps acquiring that fourth language as a 'learnt' language later on, when the child is e.g. at secondary school?
Your child has gained a 'feeling' for French and is a multilingual child, even if you do no French at all for a few years now, they will still most likely find learning French very easy later on, compared to monolingual children with no previous exposure. If you support school learning at home with something similar to Duolingo, when the time comes, they should be fine (I gather that MFL instruction in schools is rather poor in this country, hence why I mention supporting the learning at home). Even better if you manage to keep a little bit of exposure to French up in the meantime. But trying to keep French up as a full, 'native' language now whilst not neglecting the other three (?) languages feels like a monumental task to me.

We're a bilingual household, I also speak French (not one of my native languages) and French is very important 'back home'. DS has started French lessons at school in Y3 (which are laughable, tbh - he's had half a term of 1h/week - that's so little it's a waste of time) which we took as the occasion to start doing French on Duolingo regularly at home. It is amazing how fast he's picking it up. The fact that he is bilingual already helps enormously; and that we can expose him to French, and that I can support him (as I speak the language).

catkind Fri 02-Feb-18 17:50:29

shock What a horrible sales tactic. Is this not illegal? They'd have to have a street trading license or something, but surely they wouldn't get one with that business model. Maybe call local council and see if they can put a stop to it?

Don't worry a bit about your DD. Give it a year or two in school, every chance she'll be caught up and more.

SRose Fri 02-Feb-18 22:59:22

Thank you so much for your advice!!
Luckily(???) DDs are forgetting DH’s language recently - it’s his fault -, so I think I can focus on 3 languages ( my language, Eng, Fr)😁

DD’s school teaches Spanish from Y3, and I was worried about letting her learn another new language. But it looks like no problem as it’s only once a week Then?😅

I wish I could be more confident in my policy toward kids’ languages...

Thank you again! I’ll follow your advice;)

SRose Fri 02-Feb-18 23:09:39

Thank yousmile

The learning centre is inside the big sainsbury’s and those sales people were actually inside the Sains. Security guards didn’t stop them, so I assume they had a permission.

Some parents might be interested, but I don’t like the way they approached us and other non-native English speaking parents by attacking our weak point.

I’ll probably hire a tutor or something in future, but at first I’ll give DD1 at least 1 or 2 years to practice English more and see how she goes;)

catkind Fri 02-Feb-18 23:56:52

In that case, maybe make a complaint to Sainsburys? Surely they'd revoke permission (if any) given that despicable behaviour. It's massively out of order for marketers to speak to your child without your permission like that.

Kokeshi123 Sat 03-Feb-18 01:59:15

The "little sponge" crap that we are constantly told about multilingualism drives me mad. (I have a fully bilingual child, by the way.)

Children's ability to learn languages to fluency (more or less) is remarkable BUT:

a) They need a lot of exposure to get to full native level with any language. The ballpark figure one generally hears is that to become a bona fide native speaker in any language, you need to be exposed to it for at least 30% of your waking hours.

b) Even within the "native speaker" scope, individuals' ability will vary quite a lot when it comes to the "higher-level" stuff--such as second tier vocabulary (the more specialized and literary vocab, basically), written language skills, and ability to understand complicated written text.

c) Children may pick up playground level fluency in less than a year but it takes years to get fully to grips with a language, esp if we are talking about mastering it to the level of school academics. Again, ballpark figures: about 2-3 years to fully master a spoken language, and another two years on top of that to fully catch up in terms of vocab and written language. (For older children, they may never catch up while they are at school. At four, fortunately, you don't need to worry much about this; she has plenty of time to catch up and there will be other English language learners at her school.)

Four languages sounds like a hell of a lot and I would be concerned that this is going to drive you nuts and also reduce your children's chances of achieving really strong written language and vocab in any one language. I personally recommend three as a max for parents---and even that requires you to be fairly organized about how you balance things. Can you review and consider dropping one language for now?

Your daughter's everyday spoken fluency in English will improve rapidly without tutoring. However, it is quite likely that her vocabulary is more limited than that of other children her own age. To work on vocab with her, tutoring is not really what you need. What you need to be doing is lots of book-sharing.

Make a distinction between learning to read and learning vocab: graded readers like Biff and Chip are good for mastering phonics and decoding, but to improve her vocabulary, you want to be reading to her lots of books that are challenging and have plenty of rich vocabulary. Stuff like Beatrix Potter is good for this age group and is full of wonderful vocab and complex sentence structures. Nonfiction is also very helpful for sharing with children (stuff like Usborne books about science or pyramids or whatever).

Try googling "dialogic reading" and watching a couple of videos about this. This term describes a process by which the parent does not just read, read, read, but slows down and reads at a slower place, stopping to explain new/tricky words and break down long/complex sentences, discuss the story with the child, check that they understand what is going on, encourage them to engage with the book and so on. It massively speeds up vocabulary acquisition in children. I've done this with my daughter since she was young, and she has a really good vocab in English for her age even though her schooling is in another language. You can do this kind of thing with French or her other minority languages too.

If you make a little time to do this each day, her vocab will improve in leaps and bounds. No tutoring required. I have no issue with parents hiring tutors at any age, but they are best used for helping with specific academics skills like phonics or maths.

irvineoneohone Sat 03-Feb-18 06:18:22

I was a child who moved to US without any previous English knowledge.
I found reading English a lot easier earlier than speaking English.
I think it's a lot to do with my mum being shy and didn't have a lot of interaction with kids out of school.
Have lots of play date with English kids, and just keep doing homework(reading books) everyday.
I am a foreigner mum, and my ds has no disadvantage on literacy at all, even though my English is totally crap.

braindrain17 Sat 03-Feb-18 07:37:08

Kokeshi123 really well said. Totally agree!

catsatonthemat Sat 03-Feb-18 07:43:57

My Ds is yr1 and he has a lovely lady come for half hour a week to help him catch up with maths. It's only temporary and only because he missed a lot of school last term with operation and illness. He was so behind, it was causing him to worry etc. Only for 8 weeks in total. He loves her. Is doing great at catching up. Nothing to do with languages. I have been told by the teacher that of they don't get the basic in maths in yr1 then they will struggle more in yr2. Reception is not to worry and loads you can do at home without having a tutor. I don't agree with tutors at this age unless there is a real struggle and it's not in that awful Sainsbury's style environment.

SRose Sat 03-Feb-18 08:29:59

I’m not that upset now but I’ll complaint to Sainsbury’s if they continue this. ( otherwise Sanis will loose customers as we’ll try to avoid passing in front of the learning centre after school.)

SRose Sat 03-Feb-18 08:49:24


Thank you so much for all the info!!
The numbers of languages DD will be focused will be reduced to 3 or even 2 sooner or later I’m guessing although DH wants her to continue learning French. Or( and) DH’s language is to go. He’s Polish and Polish was DD’s strongest language when my mother in law was looking after DD but DH is too lazy to talk to her/teach her Polish ended up mixing with English now.

So, I’ll focus on English and my language, Japanese.
I’ve been talking to DDs in Jap & reading Japanese books since they were born as I heard I shouldn’t mix other languages (no Sure source)& I don’t want them to pick up my accent.... Do you think it’s still ok if I read English books for DDs?
Since they will be educated in the UK, should I weigh on English more at home as well?

DD1 is shy and it seems she needs more time to learn languages than average kids. DD2 is still small(2.5 yrs old) but understand and speak a lot.

Thank you so much for your advice!!!

SRose Sat 03-Feb-18 13:50:15


I remember my mum was always teaching me a lot of things at home when I was at Primary school and I was always ahead of other kids... I wish I could do the same to my daughters...!!

SRose Sat 03-Feb-18 14:07:08


Thanks for sharing your experience!
I’d prefer a private tutor as well if DD needs one;)
Well, I’m a bit afraid that DD1 might not be able to understand maths at Y1!!( she speaks ok English(and she learnt through playing with her English speaking best friend in France.) but can’t understand subjects more complicated than everyday stuff.)
So, I’m going to learn what they teach at Y1 myself to be ready to support her;)

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