Supporting kids after they leave the House

26 Aug 2021

Meet Gail, Gail is one of our many RMHC Sydney tutors supporting sick and injured children and their siblings who have stayed at the House. Read her story here…

Fatigued, daunted, timid, unsure, finding the simplest steps difficult while sailing through the complexities, confused, lost, needy, seemingly untouched, in denial, depressed, overambitious and diffident.  These are some of the behaviours that I’ve noticed in the students recovering from a serious illness that I’ve tutored through the Ronald McDonald Learning Program.

Having supported a RMHC Sydney student as a support teacher, it was a natural progression to tutoring. I enjoyed tutoring because of the one to one relationship and freedom to specifically tailor my lessons to my students’ needs: academic, physical and emotional, responding to moment by moment changes. While I liaised in devising goals, I had the freedom to create and locate content and strategies that would provide the most intellectual nourishment and diversion to promote progress across multiple areas. While learning goals were a priority, relationship, fun and stimulation were always considered.

As a RMHC Sydney tutor there is the opportunity to work closely and to get to know the student well, to gather information both directly and indirectly, to cater to their needs, to get to know their families and their history.  In tutoring, as in teaching and parenting, every experience is completely different. Every child is different, with different history, different strengths, weaknesses and needs: a different story. While some students may seem to ‘coast’, returning and reintegrating into school life, others struggle with different issues from their illness and treatment such as hair loss, brain fog and memory issues.

While schools are always to be commended for the thorough, broad and effective role they play in educating a population of diverse students with varied needs, the demands are great and ongoing and it is so easy to overlook specific student needs at times. Schools have taken on increasing responsibility in recent years and with so many demands, even with the best of intentions, it’s still possible for students to fall through the cracks, especially if they avoid attention. Through their role, a tutor can be obliged to go to bat for the student: to educate and share understanding and knowledge of the difficulties faced by the student with the school and demonstrate strategies that would best support them. The rewards from such intervention can be great for the student but also for the tutor.

Through the interaction and relationship of tutoring there is always the opportunity to teach coping strategies through demonstration and responding to the moment by moment needs of living and the demands and challenges of learning, including interacting with teachers and other professionals, utilising resources for the best outcome (including technology) and maintaining flexibility by being open to possibilities and options. While insightful movement towards independence is encouraged, students can also be guided to seek pertinent support wherever they can find it.

As a tutor and as an adult, I am chastened by my limited understanding of what the students I’ve worked with have been through and the challenges that they continue to face. I feel grateful for the privilege of working with them.

If you are interested in knowing more about our Tutoring Programme, contact Fabi Spiros at

Written by Gail Jenaway