One of the most powerful things a parent can do for their child is taking an active position in their educational growth. No matter how well your child is doing in school, when you are able to keep an eye on the shifts in their grades on assignments, and keep an open dialogue between you and your child and you and your child’s teacher, you will see a lot more than you would have just waiting for teachers to simply reach out to you.
When we as parents see our child begin to struggle with an aspect of learning and schoolwork, this is usually when we turn on our active involvement. We start speaking to teachers, to our children, and maybe even to a tutoring specialist to find out how to assist our child in getting better grades.
WHY DID YOU WRITE THIS ARTICLE?
Let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of the discussion at hand, tutoring. As a teacher, and as a tutor myself, I have always found myself in an awkward position when parents ask me to tutor their child. It’s awkward because of many reasons.
- I know I can help your child improve whatever it is they are struggling with.
- I more than likely need the money you are willing to pay me.
- I also know that there is a high probability that you do not actually NEED my services, so do I take your child on as a client anyway and take your money?
As a consultant for parents, I no longer feel awkward when I am put in this position. I know that I have the responsibility of telling you that your child MAY NOT need me to tutor them. This comes from talking to you and knowing the situation at hand. This is the reason I decided to write this blog post.
I will probably upset a lot of my cohorts in the tutoring world with this post but here it goes…
WHAT IS A TUTOR?
A tutor is a person you hire when your child needs to be completely retaught a specific topic of a subject.
The teacher has MOVED ON from this topic and there are no longer windows of opportunity in the classroom for your child to relearn or continue to practice the skill or topic before the next test comes up. This means that there has been a passing of time and throughout this time, your child has not grasped the necessary steps and skills to display a proper understanding of the topic.
So does your child need someone to completely reteach them a topic?
Do you want your child to get ahead in a specific subject?
Is there an ongoing struggle your child is having with a series of topics in a subject?
Does your child get frustrated with homework itself?
Or are you seeing issues when it comes to your child taking tests?
Only the first two of these warrant the hiring of a tutor in the truest sense of the title.
HOW DO I KNOW IF MY CHILD NEEDS A TUTOR?
You can not be sure that your child needs a tutor if you are unsure how much your child knows about the topic or skill.
If you’re doing homework with your child and working them through each problem giving them the answers, how do you know the difference between what you know and what your child knows?
If you don’t help with homework at all, how do you know what your child knows?
The first thing parents should focus on is determining if your child knows NOTHING or if they are only missing a piece of the puzzle to help them get to the answer. There is a BIG difference between the two. That is the difference between needing a tutor and needing an extra 5 to 10 minutes with a teacher to review the steps you take to solve a problem.
Has the teacher reached out and specifically recommended that you hire a tutor for your child? Have you reached out and asked if the teacher can set aside an extra few minutes to help your child with the troublesome topic?
HOW DO I GET THE MOST OUT OF HIRING A TUTOR?
Even if you are ready to hire a tutor, to get the most out of your investment, you need to be able to tell that tutor exactly where the specific issue is.
You can not just say “my kid can’t add.” This forces the tutor to use the time you have paid them to help your child as assessment time. Now the actual procedure for helping gets shortened because they have to find out what the problem is themselves.
YOUR MONEY is much better spent when you can tell a tutor where your child’s addition starts to get fuzzy, what type of addition problems are the issue? Is it the actual combining of numbers, or is it the ability to recognize the value of the numbers themselves?
There are strategies to help you pinpoint where the boost is needed. Which makes it easier to explain to the tutor, which makes your child’s time with the tutor a time of teaching and practice, not one of figuring out where to start.
When you are watching your child complete their homework assignments, initiate a learning experience for yourself! Have your child tell you the steps to solving a specific problem they are working on. This will help you see if your child can successfully work through all aspects of answering a specific type of question. If they are not able to tell you all the steps, you can observe and note where they start to forget or where they start to get frustrated. It is this moment, this step, that you will want to discuss with a potential tutor.
When we involve ourselves with homework efficiently, and at key points, we can potentially turn a learning struggle into a teaching opportunity for our child. Either our child can end up teaching us, or we can end up figuring out exactly what our child’s teacher or a tutor needs to reteach them.