Acknowledging that your child needs a little extra help can be difficult. On the other end of the spectrum, it can be just as easy to think a tutor will be a quick fix for an existing problem, when sometimes they do just the opposite. I have worked as a professional tutor, so I know both concepts. Here are some things to consider.
How much does your child study?
I have worked with a parent who I came to discover did not need a tutor but instead someone to make her daughter do their homework and study. Her child was very bright but I came to find she was lazy. I began to take note of the mother and daughters behavior, and the mother did not make her study, even when necessary, if her daughter said she didn’t need to, her mother didn’t even quiz her. It was a nightmare when her grades didn’t improve because I could only tell her she needed to study the next day, but had no way of enforcing it. Of course we would study together on the two days I worked, but it wasn’t enough. I even made her flashcards and fun websites to use to study. It made no difference. So, before paying for an expensive tutor, take stock of you and your child’s behavior. On a similar thought, if your student studies vast amounts and are not seeing improvements, which is definitely the time to call in a tutor.
What is your goal?
Are you trying to help your student pass a class or raise their grades? Whatever your goal, keep it in mind and remember it, because the answer to this question could be a factor in the importance of having a tutor.
Does your child have signs of a learning disability?
I was a tutor for a child who I found to have dyslexia, to her parents surprise. She still needed to be tutored, but she needed a different kind of tutoring. Also, she needed to be given some extra help at school. Between the tutoring and the extra help her grades went up, but it is important that if your child does have a learning disability that you find a tutor who has experience dealing with it.
Do you play the blame game?
Do you find yourself blaming your child’s teacher, the school district (past or present), or anyone else? Take a moment to consider if you are blaming the right person. There are times when your child really may have an awful teacher, but if you constantly place responsibility for your child not doing well in school onto a teacher, a child may begin to copy this behavior and never take academic responsibility. If your child truly does have a bad teacher, get them a tutor, and explain to the tutor the situation, but avoid saying it in front of you child. If you realize you may have to make your child take responsibility for the academic problems it is ok to get them a tutor to help them catch up, and learn study skills, but it is important for that tutor help get the student on their feet, not dependant on them.
Have you tried alternative study tools?
No two people are exactly alike, so when it comes to studying what worked for one child may not work for a different child. If you’ve been using flashcards, try having them work out problems on a chalk board, or use marbles or coins to help the count it out. Also consider having them repeat whatever it is they are trying to learn. If you’ve tried using other tools, or you are at a loss for what kind to use, call a tutor, save yourself a headache.