Tu­tor­ing can help but it isn’t ev­ery­thing

Ex­perts say other ac­tiv­i­ties can be just as ben­e­fi­cial

The Kids Post - - Education Feature - By Caitlin Mckay

It’s not easy to watch a child strug­gle with school work. Some par­ents, par­tic­u­larly the ones who are math­e­mat­i­cally chal­lenged, might feel pow­er­less to help. So, is it time to con­sider a pri­vate tu­tor?

There are well-doc­u­mented ben­e­fits to pri­vate tu­tor­ing. Oneon-one at­ten­tion and per­son­al­ized les­son plans are ef­fec­tive learn­ing meth­ods, and stud­ies have shown that most stu­dents im­prove when they are pri­vately taught.

But in­creas­ingly, more par­ents are us­ing tu­tors as a means to chal­lenge chil­dren who are al­ready per­form­ing well to up their grades and to en­sure ac­cep­tance into a good post-sec­ondary in­sti­tu­tion.

“Par­ents of teenagers of­ten feel that they may not be get­ting what they need from their high schools,” ex­plains Jes­sica Sher­man, di­rec­tor of ed­u­ca­tion at Write City Inc.

“To se­cure a cov­eted spot in univer­sity, stu­dents must per­form at the top of their class. There are myr­iad of rea­sons to work with a tu­tor, but the num­ber one rea­son is to as­sist chil­dren with the in­creas­ing de­mands of our com­pet­i­tive world.”

Sher­man rec­om­mends that par­ents start their chil­dren with tu­tor­ing in grades 3, 4 or 5. In her ex­pe­ri­ence, this is the age when stu­dents start to fall be­hind and no one no­tices.

“The an­swer ul­ti­mately de­pends on the stu­dent; how­ever, in gen­eral, the ear­lier the bet­ter. I can­not over­stress the im­por­tance of prac­tis­ing read­ing and writ­ing at a young age,” she says.

“It en­ables a stu­dent to learn more in school through­out ele­men­tary and high school and pre­pares them for a life­time of suc­cess­ful learn­ing in gen­eral.”

How­ever, some ed­u­ca­tional ex­perts think learn­ing at the school of life is equally ben­e­fi­cial and are hes­i­tant to en­cour­age par­ents to pre-emp­tively hire a tu­tor if their child is do­ing well. Ed­u­ca­tors from this school of thought say that other ac­tiv­i­ties are just as im­por­tant as aca­demics.

“I mean there are so many other mar­vel­lous things that chil­dren can be do­ing in child­hood [be­sides spend­ing time with a tu­tor]. Play­ing out­side, en­joy­ing read­ing, do­ing ac­tiv­i­ties with fam­ily and loaf­ing about … there are other pri­or­i­ties in child­hood,” says Dr. Rachel Lang­ford, di­rec­tor for the School of Early Child­hood Stud­ies at Ry­er­son Univer­sity.

But most ex­perts agree that tu­tor­ing is ben­e­fi­cial for stu­dents who are, in­deed, strug­gling. In this sit­u­a­tion and if re­sources per­mit, hir­ing a pri­vate teacher for a child is rec­om­mended.

Michelle Fuller­ton, ed­u­ca­tion di­rec­tor at Full Ed­u­ca­tion, says that par­ents should con­sider get­ting ex­tra help when their child starts bring­ing home poor test scores and stops do­ing his or her home­work.

“One of the big­gest mis­takes par­ents make is wait­ing un­til a failed test or the stu­dent is in jeop­ardy in the course. At that point, the tu­tor has a lot of work to do to get the stu­dent back to where they need to be.”

How­ever, pri­vate tu­tors can be costly. Prices dif­fer depend­ing on the age, sub­ject and length of the ses­sion, but on av­er­age, tu­tor­ing costs par­ents be­tween $40 and $100 a ses­sion.

For more bud­get-friendly op­tions, par­ents can con­sider etu­tors, where stu­dents com­mu­ni­cate with an on­line tu­tor through chat rooms, Skype and vir­tual white­boards. There are many vir­tual tu­tor­ing web­sites that spe­cial­ize in a va­ri­ety of sub­jects or grades. The pro­vin­cial govern­ment of­fers free on­line math tu­tor­ing for any On­tario high school stu­dent through the In­de­pen­dent Learn­ing Cen­tre (www.ilc.org).

Univer­sity and col­lege stu­dents also of­fer par­ents a cheaper op­tion. Rates will vary depend­ing on age and ex­pe­ri­ence, but are typ­i­cally less ex­pen­sive than pro­fes­sion­als.

It’s im­por­tant to note that not all tu­tors and learn­ing com­pa­nies are equal, and par­ents should in­quire about the qual­i­fi­ca­tions and ex­pe­ri­ences of each tu­tor to en­sure their child re­ceives the best ed­u­ca­tion.

The tu­tor-stu­dent re­la­tion­ship is im­por­tant, and par­ents should shop around for the right one. A tu­tor can be a men­tor, as well as a teacher to a child, and it’s im­por­tant to se­lect one that is not only well qual­i­fied for a child’s spe­cific needs, but also some­one that the child is com­fort­able with.

“This is the op­por­tu­nity to pick who teaches your child. Go with some­one your child and you re­late to so that you feel like ev­ery­one can com­mu­ni­cate on the same page,” ad­vises Fuller­ton.

So whether par­ents want their chil­dren to get their grades up or just bet­ter un­der­stand some math con­cepts, tu­tor­ing has the po­ten­tial to get them there. All stu­dents can make the grade with a lit­tle help along the way.

There are tu­tor­ing op­tions avail­able for a range of bud­gets

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