How to Know When Your Child Needs a Tutor

Originally published on the Ridgewood Moms website

Some students naturally thrive in school.  They enjoy the thrill of solving complex math word problems, ace timed writing exams, and find pleasure in creating mnemonics for new science terms. Yet for others, school is a stress-inducing struggle. They dread completing homework, have difficulty studying for exams, and develop poor self-esteem from their academic challenges. For these students, a tutor may be immensely valuable. How do you know when your child needs a tutor?

Slipping Grades

For many students, the beginning of elementary school is a cinch. They master basic reading and math skills and enjoy completing homework assignments and worksheets independently. Their grades typically remain consistently strong. Yet some students reach a pinnacle – often around 3rd or 4th grade – when the academic demads accelerate and their grades start to drop. If you notice that your child’s grades dip consistently for a period of three to four months, he may benefit from some additional support. Certain concepts may confuse him, such as fractions and decimals in math, or metamorphosis in science. He may have trouble understanding what he reads or making inferences from the more complex material. While writing may have previously been a stregth for him when it was limited to basic sentences,  composing full paragrpahs or essays may completely stymie him. In such cases, working with a one-on-one tutor can be very beneficial.

Her Confidence Dips

Parents always find pleasure in raising a confident child who has a strong self-esteem and belief in her own abilities. Yet when this confidence dips – or doesn’t exist from the ghetgo – a parent may develop concerns. Often times, when children feel they are not “good” at an academic skill – they see their peers reading chapter books, for instance, when they can only read 3-letter words in basic BOB books – their self-esteem may tumble. They might feel they can “never” be good at math or are terrible at writing when, in reality, with some one-on-one coaching, they have the ability to excel at each of these skills. By building a child’s academic skills through tutoring, her self-esteem often improves along with it.

Homework Meltdowns

Some children come home from school and complete their homework independently with no or little prompting. If they encounter a challenge,  they calmly ask a peer or parent to help them through it. Yet for other kids, the task of completing homework – or at least certain types of homework – can seem insurmountable. They may lose their patience, become easily frustrated, and often have complete meltdowns. When parents try to help, the turmoil sometimes rises – ultimately negatively affecting the parent-child relationship. Often times, a third party tutor – someone who is not mom or dad – can be just the solution for building skills, easing frustration, and preventing these dreaded meltdowns.

Poor Time Management Skills

As children move through school, the studying and time management demands increase rapidly. The number of exams and homework assignments quickly rise – often along with additional extra curricular activities and other time-intensive demands – and children must learn to effectively manage their time ‎in order to fit it all in. Many students, however, have poor executive functioning and time management skills. Those who once thrived in school often start to plummet academically as these demands rise. They may push off studying and assignments to the last minute, turn in projects late, or stay up until the early hours of morning to complete all of their work. A tutor can teach these students concrete strategies for more effectively planning and managing their time so their seemingly insurmountable work and activity load feels much more manageable.

Your Child Asks for a Tutor

When most of us were children, the idea of working with a tutor seemed almost like a punishment. Children felt subpar, or not “good enough” to succeed on their own if they needed a tutor. Yet in our current high-demand environment, with Common Core standards and new advances in our curricula, having a tutor – someone to help students navigate this challenging path – can seem like a gift. The negative connotation connected to tutoring has turned positive and many kids and parents now see the real positive value tutoring offers. In fact, while parents used to be the sole tutor-seekers, many students now self-advocate and ask their parents for a tutor, seeing how this support has helped their peers and friends and can help them too.

As children move from elementary to high school, the academic and studying demands increase exponentially. Some students can keep up with these increasing demands on their own but many benefit from additional instruction. If you notice your child struggling, you may want to consider a tutor. Having this added support can help your child feel calm, confident, and successful in school.

Dear Dr. Levy, My son received an excellent report card. I can’t say enough good things about his EBL tutor. She has done a tremendous job helping him improve his reading and writing skills. Most importantly, she is wise and kind. She is always patient with him. Because of his tutor, my son writes with much more ease.
– Parent