Should I get a tutor? Will it help my child? These are some of the most common questions posed to tutors by parents of students struggling in school. Tutoring can be expensive and difficult to schedule so parents must decide whether the time and money will be well spent. Instead of relying on a crystal ball, use these factors to help make the decision.
1. Does the student spend an appropriate amount of time on homework and studies?
While it can help with study skills, organization, and motivation, tutoring cannot be expected to keep the student on track unless you plan on having a session every night. If you can make sure the student puts in effort outside of tutoring, she will be more likely benefit from it.
2. Does the student have difficulty learning from the textbook?
If this is the case, the student will probably respond to one-on-one instruction that is more personalized. A tutor will help bring the subject to life and engage the student. A good tutor will explain the material in an individualized manner that meshes with the student’s learning style. Furthermore, she can coach the student to get more out of the textbook.
3. How did the student perform the year before?
Students that received consistent Ds and Fs often need stronger intervention rather than, or in addition to, tutoring. Remedial classes, other alternative school situations, and evaluation for possible problems should be considered. A tutor will have difficulty bringing the student up to speed at the current level as the student is missing the underlying knowledge needed. This is especially true for subjects that constantly build on themselves such as math and languages.
4. Will you be able to schedule regular sessions?
Sporadic tutoring will benefit only those students who need a little extra review. If your child has had problems for more than a few weeks and is receiving negative evaluations in school, he will need consistent, regular help to develop understanding and pull his grades up. This will probably mean sessions at least once a week per subject for elementary and junior high students and possibly twice a week for more difficult high school subjects such as Algebra II.
5. How far along is the school year?
The longer that a tutor has to work with a student and the earlier he starts, the better the outlook. It takes time to develop a true understanding of subject material. If your child has final exams in a few days, tutoring may have little to no effect. The start of the school year or the first hint of issues are both good times to hire a tutor for maximum impact.
6. Is the student resistant to tutoring?
While the rare student suggests getting help, most are loath to start what they consider “extra school.” However, once they see that tutoring makes homework easier and faster, they often change their minds. Hence, this question should be asked after a few initial tutoring sessions. If the child remains highly uncooperative, the tutor will not be able to accomplish anything, and it might be wiser to consider other alternatives. Try to ask the student questions to determine whether it is the idea of tutoring in general or a specific tutoring style that is not clicking. If it is the latter, changing tutors might solve the problem.