Tutoring can help but it isn’t everything
Experts say other activities can be just as beneficial
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