Anita Kamikazi recalls how math used to be her worst subject in primary school. Being a shy girl, she never asked teachers when she didn’t understand something for fear of being laughed at by other students, or being nicknamed the ‘slow’.
She never even asked any of the students who were good at math to help her. When she talked to her parents about how to get better math grades, they suggested home-based coaching over the weekends and during holidays.
This actually worked for her, she says; first, the coach made the subject fun for her, and gave her tricks to work out calculations. The more they studied, the more she learned, and she even started enjoying calculating numbers. And what she didn’t see coming, is that it also boosted her confidence, and she started participating in class. Her performance improved greatly.
Home-coaching is when the tutor engages a student away from school and discusses, in-depth, areas that the student is weak in and provides concepts and guidelines on how to perform better.
Martha Nassolo, a teacher at Little Bears Montessori School in Kigali, explains that home-coaching helps some learners build their self-esteem and confidence since they are able to add to what is already taught in class, or even more. When their marks are high, it gives them a sense of pride and accomplishment.
She says home-coaching empowers a learner to ask questions where they do not understand, and a tutor is guaranteed to give all the attention to one student — so the teacher can explain what is hard as many times as necessary until the student gets it.
On the other hand, Nassolo notes that some learners may not need coaching, rather, educative films, books, and research, among others. However, they can only achieve great results with a well-designed and respected timetable.
Casimir Manirareba, a teacher at Lycee Notre-Dame de Citeaux, Nyarugenge, says home-coaching is very helpful, especially for learners lagging behind, like those whose absenteeism is high for various reasons (for example, sickness), as it can help them catch up with other students.
However, he says that home-coaching may increase laziness among some students — thinking that their coach will do everything for them — which can lead to poor performance in school. Also, most of these students are prepared to succeed in their exams, rather than in life, because the coaches need to prove to the parents that they are doing their job. In addition, some homes do not have a good learning environment.
Manirareba says that students should be taught how to learn and succeed in life, rather than focus on high scores with no other capabilities.
“Private home-learning enables learners to address their weaker subject areas, as they have time to discuss with a teacher the areas they are weak in.
“The private home tutor will have the capacity to quickly identify the subject or topic in which a student is facing difficulty, and seek means to help. Since the tutor is focusing on one student, a lot of information can be learned in the shortest time,” Nassolo says.
Home-coaching is more flexible for students who have questions or doubts regarding certain subjects. Their coach can help clear the uncertainties.
Manirareba says with home-coaching, teachers have consistent access to students, and this way, they can watch, analyse and make detailed and accurate assessments, hence providing an effective strategy and study plan.
He adds that many teachers know how to put students at ease and get the very best out of them.
Knight Kuta, a teacher at Mai Childhood Academy, Nyamirambo, explains that home-coaching is important as learners have different capabilities.
She says, according to the limited time scheduled on the timetables, teachers do not have enough time to assist every student in the classroom. With home-tutoring, students can learn at a better pace.
Kuta says that home-coaching helps in pre-learning (gives opportunities to learn a concept before it is discussed in class), and is the best way to analyse every step of a student. The tutor gives detailed feedback which motivates them to improve.