A child's school years are vital to their life-long success. From the first day of preschool until they walk down the aisle at graduation, an endless number of hours are spent learning everything from counting to 10 to fluently speaking a foreign language. While keeping learning fun and stress-free is a top priority, there is an underlying reality that weighs on most parents' minds: grades make a difference.
From college admissions to scholarship money, a child's success or failure in the classroom—especially during their high school years—both opens and closes doors. While most parents are eager to offer their kids help with homework, sometimes the knowledge they've retained from their school days and their own skills just aren't enough. If you think your young student might need extra support, hiring a tutor is a good solution.
Signs your child needs help
Most kids aren't eager to sit down and do homework after a day spent in the classroom. It's not uncommon for arguments to ensue when asked to hit the books at home — so how does a parent know when their child is in need of some extra support? Audra Bohn, Sylvan Learning Center of Bend's director of education says, "The purpose of tutoring is to teach children efficient learning skills and techniques. It's important that parents take action early and seek supplemental services that develop these skills for success."
She shares the following signs parents can look for when determining their student's learning needs.
• Grades start slipping. This especially applies to students who were once strong in the subject in which they are currently struggling.
• Your child stops turning in homework.
• Homework time becomes frustrating and involves a lot of arguing in order to accomplish anything.
• There is a visible struggle with the organization of assignments.
• You notice an inability to focus on tasks for a long period of time.
Finding the right tutor
Once you have determined that your child could benefit from additional educational support, determining the right tutor for their unique situation is important. There are steps parents can take to ensure they find the right fit. Bohn says the first step to getting a tutor for your child is, "Do your research!"
Meeting with your child's teacher will help you better determine their specific needs. They have valuable insight into your student's struggles and where and how they experience the most success. Make sure to ask for recommendations on the type of tutoring and setting they think would be best.
Common types of tutors to consider are peer tutors, personal instructors and supplemental education companies. A peer tutor is typically a child in the same or a higher grade level who is proficient in the subject in which your child is struggling. They pair up and work together during or after school. A personal instructor is an individual who can come to your house or meet for sessions in an environment of your choosing. A supplemental education company—like Sylvan—provides the space, evaluations and tutors.
Bohn recommends taking these additional steps when searching for a tutor:
• Determine which setting is best for your child: home, library, school or tutoring center.
• Get recommendations from family, friends and teachers.
• Interview prospective instructors and make sure they are licensed or certified.
• Most tutors should offer a free consultation or free session. Take advantage of this opportunity to get a better feel for whether the situation is right for your child.
• Request an assessment to gauge your child's current academic level.
According to Bohn, whichever tutor you choose for your child, they should be willing to work with you and your child's teachers in order to create the best personal learning program. Ask in advance, so there are no surprises along the way. And before your child's sessions begin, define the desired goals and make sure everyone is clear about what they are.
Tutors also help students who are already excelling or looking to get ahead. High-achieving students or students aiming to get into college can get the extra support they need with preparing for college admissions exams like the SATs and ACTs through a tutoring company or instructor. Additionally, students hoping to land scholarships to help pay for their higher learning experience may find it easier to achieve the grades they need to qualify with extra support.
Making sure your child receives the kind of education they need and deserve requires a lot of work. Calling on an outside resource to ensure that all of the doors to their best possible future remain open can provide your young student and the whole family with the ability to truly enjoy the early school years.