Posted ByCorey Kagan Whelan
Support your child's learning by adding a tutor to their team.
All children face challenges in school at various times. The desire of loving, pro-active parents everywhere is to bolster their children's love of learning, self-esteem and academic success whenever possible. Tutors can often help with these goals.
Here are several examples how tutoring can make all the difference.
Helps Establish an Early Foundation
Children in the early elementary school grades have a lot of work to do. They are learning mathematical building blocks and acquiring reading comprehension. When kids struggle to master these early skills they can have difficulty grasping more challenging concepts, yet the school system will not typically offer added support unless they are a full two grades behind.
"These gaps become greater as children get older, but tutoring can support their ability to acquire comprehension skills and decypher concepts before the situation becomes too stressful," says Charlene Andersson, an educator for eighteen years who tutors grade-school students in Valencia, Calif.
Supports One-on-One Learning
Overcrowded classrooms are another issue which often affects a child's ability to learn, Andersson believes. A class of thirty or more students by definition, limit a teacher's ability to give kids one-on-one time to explain concepts fully or to answer every child's question. Children may also become embarrassed to keep asking questions if they are struggling. Tutoring gives your child the opportunity to take as much time as they need to understand the work in front of them.
Builds Confidence and Self-Esteem
Kids are so eager to please their parents that sometimes, they don't communicate their struggles fully. A good tutor will take time to get to know your child, creating a safe space for them to discuss issues that might be affecting their ability to learn. This can enhance their feelings of self-worth and esteem as well as bolster up their skills at school.
"Role playing can be especially beneficial for children who are experiencing upsets at school," says Andersson. "This can help with social paralysis as well as learning paralysis."
Offers Strength-Based Training
Julia Simens, author of "Emotional Resilience and the Expat Child," believes that tutoring a child in their strong subjects as well as their weaker ones helps to build confidence that will support their across-the-board learning in all subjects.
"When parents only get tutoring for the weak areas, a child may feel defeated or think that they are a loser. Tutors can spend, for example, 25 minutes working on a weaker skill like math and after a break, 15 minutes on a strength-based subject, such as reading skills or even music or sports. Then you can finish up with 15 minutes of intense work on the weaker subject."
Helps With The Common Core Standards
In 2014, the national Common Core Standards will be implemented nationwide. "Every state will have the same standard for learning and the focus will be on short answers and essays, not on multiple choice," says Andersson. "This will require a lot of mental application, so tutors will be needed to help with the transition."
Transitions a Move to a New Location
There are, however, individual differences between schools and school districts that might make it harder for your child to learn if you have moved to a new state, or even to a new neighborhood. Throw in a change of classmates and unfamiliar environment and you may find your child craving the support of a tutor who is focused solely on their needs to help them make the transition.
Gives Your Child Permission to Struggle
Author and mother to two teenagers, Karen Mishra, Ph.D. has seen first-hand how beneficial tutoring can be. "Working with a tutor, my kids got individualized attention from someone who let them know they actually could understand the material -- they were not dumb and just needed to take the time to figure things out. Having the extra time and attention gave them permission to struggle without shame and then succeed away from the eyes of peers who might make fun of them, or teachers whose expectations might not be realistic."
Helps Maintain Acquired Skills During the Summer
Tutoring can be beneficial to children during the summer months, if you have concerns that they will lose some of the ground they gained over the past year.
"Tutoring at this time should not be used to push a child who is already doing well, such as an A student whose parent is hoping they will become an A+ student," cautions Anderrson, who believes that summer tutoring should be used to help transition to the next grade but should not be aggressive.
Helps Children Ace Standardized Tests
"Education is high stakes now and kids are increasingly needing to score well on tests, such as SAT's or the ISEE for acceptance to private middle school," says pediatric neuropsychologist, Rita Eichenstein, Ph.D. "Having a private tutor who is trained in these subjects can really help a child perform up to his best," she adds.
Eliminates the Parent-Child Homework Wars
Eichenstein believes that the most stressful part of the elementary child-parent relationship is homework! "By the time it's homework time, most parents are pooped. Whether they work full time or are busy shuffling their kids around, making dinner and supervising bath and bed time routines, parents are not the ideal homework monitor, particularly given how much work children have," she says. Tutors can take the pressure off and add to the family's quality of life while teaching kids to be responsible for their own work.
Most children can benefit from having someone focused on them who can support their learning and help them to understand and accept their own learning styles. Every kid is a rock star, even if they have areas where they feel challenged. A good tutor can help them to unlock the door to self-confidence, love of learning and self-acceptance, to boot.
Corey Whelan is a freelance journalist based in Brooklyn, New York. Her work can be found here.