When I was in my early 20s, two years into my tutoring career, and still an acting student at RADA, one of my clients called and asked me to look after her son for 3 weeks while she went travelling on business. I was taken aback that she had come to me first for such a crucial request - but she said, having known me for over a year and seen how well her son responded to my lessons, she thought I'd be be the best option. On that occasion I jumped at the chance of 3 weeks living in a Chelsea mews, walking a large, well-trained boxer around the stuccoed houses, and getting my first taste of motherhood by being called to deliver ‘emergency’ football boots to the school gates before an important house-match.
Nearly 10 years on and we have launched a ‘tutor-nanny' thread to our business, precisely because many parents have told us that they want to find a young, fun and super-bright graduate to be more than just a weekly tutor. With more and more parents working long hours, and an amazing supply of clever young people looking for regular income in the capital, it makes plenty of sense.
Tutor-nannies generally spend two to four hours with the kids every day after-school. Their role is usually a mix of straightforward childcare tasks (pick-up, supervision, perhaps preparing a simple dinner) and tutor tasks (overseeing homework, consolidating school work, supporting revision and reading etc). It can be a great option once the kids have developed a little independence, but still need an inspiring figure to look up to. A tutor-nanny can also be a useful support to families who don’t speak English at home, and perhaps don’t know the UK education system back-to-front, but want a native speaker around to ensure that their child isn’t missing out on any aspects of learning.
Perhaps more than anything, it’s about inspiration. We all know that role models are important for kids, and a great tutor-nanny can stimulate a child in all sorts of ways. Last year, one of the tutor-nannies we placed was running her own jewellery business at the same time, and recalls that she would chat through her designs with the kids, who in turn came up with endless entrepreneurial and artistic suggestions for her. Another tutor-nanny we have placed is a fluent French speaker, and talks to the kids in French for a short while each day. We’re soon to place a tutor nanny who is an artist and performer, and who promises to bring all sorts crafts and creative pursuits into the lives of her new wards.
Who are these tutor-nannies? Put Victorian governesses and Mary-Poppins-style-singalongs out of your mind. In general, they’re sparky, highly educated 20-somethings who are pursuing their dreams during the day - start-ups, fine art, writing, academia, film-making, vocational training - but are all too happy to work with a family for a few hours each evening, and are often able to commit for at least a year. It's an idea that's already making waves in NYC, where 'Artsitters' are the in thing - that is, babysitters who are also brilliant painters, musicians, singers or storytellers, and who aren't afraid to share their skills with eager kids, even on a school night. More about tutor-nannies on our site here.