The Boundary of Space and Time

Being consistent

You may already know people who like to be busy or can be chaotic in their schedules. You might even be a person like this. Whilst there are various reasons people can be busy and chaotic, we will not explore these various reasons for this on this course. However, what we will explore is the effect of being busy and chaotic can have on others; that is a lack of consistency.

If there is a lack of consistency, people who are anxious, struggle with change or feel overwhelmed will find the inconsistency hard to cope with.  In these instances, it would be better to have no tuition at all, rather than inconsistent tuition.

If, for example, you have an appointment that is 5.30 pm every Wednesday. That consistently needs to be the family’s appointment time.  The parent/client needs to have that as a consistent pattern to plan other family activities. The child also needs to experience the consistency of the tuition to gain learning confidence.

We will also work with chaotic families that will keep wanting to move that time. For these families, it will be helpful for the child to experience the consistency of support. So, the tuition happens on good and bad days. It’s something that can keep going even when everything else feels chaotic.

However, there will be occasions from the family’s side, health appointments and unavoidable events such as school plays, parents evening and celebratory events that will affect the consistency of the tuition.  On those occasions, we will try to offer another slot, but they should always be planned occasions wherever possible.

From the tutor’s side, there may be periods of sickness or family events that need to be attended to. However, if we have multiple cancellations, what the family will experience is a chaotic consistency and we will not be of any value to that child’s learning. Once you take on a child and you agree to the time slot, you must do everything you can to be the consistent aspect to that child’s learning.

The boundary of time

The boundary of time is an important boundary that is often overlooked. if your appointment is at 5:30 and you turn up at 5:15 you will have crossed a time boundary and will be in an uninvited space. The Client wasn’t expecting anyone to be there and you won’t know what they might have been trying to achieve in the 15  minutes they thought they had. Even if you sit in your car in view of the house, you are in an uninvited space. Turning up early for many people is just as bad as turning up late. Some tutors have said in the past ‘oh, they don’t mind’.  How do you know they don’t? They might just be being polite? What would happen if the parent isn’t able to tell you when their boundaries have been crossed, they view being polite as more important? Resentment can sometimes build and the tutoring relationship could be stressed.

It is always important to show families you respect their time. Perhaps on the odd occasion, you do need to arrive earlier, attempt to phone or text and ask permission. That will stop this boundary violation. However, look at the above paragraph, if you keep changing the time and you cannot stick to one time, you’re unable to be consistent. This also applies to being late.

Starting on time and finishing on time is boundary line drawing and will help a child feel safe. The child knows when the session will start and when the session will end. Carrying on for five or 10 minutes after a  session has finished is poor boundaries. Cutting a  session short 5 or 10 minutes is also poor boundaries. It is the boundaries you create with a time that helps a child feel safe and the parent sees you as reliable,  and you are experienced as being consistent.

In many of Westcountry SEN’s centres, there are waiting rooms. They are there for a purpose, they signify a boundary between entering a building and walking into a tutoring space. They are a space to stop, reflect and gather and know you are in a learning space. Allowing the child to walk into the building and then into your room without any stopping pause, takes away this boundary and you don’t have a boundary drawn for yourself between you and the people you tutor. That five to ten minutes between each student is your time to gather, think and plan. You should not be allowing students to cross into it, and it would not be helpful for children and their parents to cross into it either.

Session times

The boundary of time and space also means the sessions should never continue after the session time has ended.  You cannot engage in postmortem conversations about what happened in the session with the parent in front of the child. These types of conversations need to be adult conversations and may seem a betrayal of trust to the child if they occur whilst the child is listening.  The child will witness a different dynamic from you as you engage with the parent in any detailed discussions.

When the session ends, there should be a polite warm exchange of how well things have gone. Then it is in the session report where you will communicate to the parent in more detail. Additionally, the parent can be telephoned in-between sessions to build that relationship, but it will not be done in front of the child who you are building your relationship with.