Deciding to get your child a tutor can be a difficult decision for parents. Along with the financial commitment, parents need to feel comfortable that tutoring will positively impact their child. When is the right time to find a tutor for your student?
According to Torsie Judkins, Director of Academic Services of Greenwich Education Group (GEG), the right time is when a parent sees “stress and shutdown” in their child. Judkins explains parents should consider implementing a support system when a student is “not able to structure their academic environment on their own.”
A challenging course load can result in a good bit of studying and extracurricular activities and sports can compound the demands on a teen. Judkins suggests applying a strategy to combat stress overload and the avalanche of everything coming at once. Parents need to keep their students calm and help them to cope. Students should be working on projects and papers as well as studying for exams at a steady pace to avoid the stress resulting from procrastination.
There may come a time, however, that tutoring should be considered for additional support. Maria Mata, a tutor at GEG, suggests “as soon as a student is performing below their potential, a parent should seek tutoring. Early intervention can prevent academic failure as well as avoid negative attitudes toward school.”
One Size Does Not Fit All
While schools speak of adapting teaching to individual needs of a student, the reality is that “customizing” instruction simultaneously for 20 students isn’t feasible. A tutor will be able to identify the student’s specific needs, capabilities and capacity and adapt their teaching style and techniques accordingly. Another GEG tutor poses this choice; “how would you prefer to learn an individual sport such as golf? In a class or with an individual coach? An individual coach gives you concentrated attention and observes your progress. A group lesson gives you general rules and then you have to apply them without individual feedback.”
Tutors focused on specific topics bring both passion and expertise, which in return may make a child more enthusiastic for a subject. The tutor will go into greater detail and provide more color and focus instruction where a child may be struggling. In situations where a child is behind on a subject due to prolonged absence, the tutor will be able to fill in the gaps quickly and effectively. Mata adds that tutors are able to evaluate the student’s needs and address them accordingly. “You can accomplish so much in one hour in contrast to the classroom where a teacher’s attention is divided among many students. If the tutor is a great diagnostician, they can provide the proper prescription.” In many cases, an hour of tutoring can be equated to almost 3 hours of a student working on their own.
Tutoring should improve a student’s study habits by helping them get organized and focus their approach to learning by combining class-work and homework in a more cohesive manner. With the right tutor, the child also may be less reluctant to ask questions and seek clarification, something they may shy away from in a large classroom setting. Judkins further explains “it is the dedicated focus on the student that makes individual tutoring a better learning experience for the student.”
As a result, a positive cycle can ensue where improved confidence and results are seen. As the student grows more secure in the subject, increased involvement in the classroom emerges.
Beyond increased practice, the potential benefits of individualized instruction also are embedded in the instructional approach that is utilized. Dr. Andy Jackson, an experienced math and science tutor with GEG, explains, “Students who embrace tutoring are more relaxed perhaps due to the absence of peer pressure and an environment that encourages questions and further clarification on advanced concepts.”
Additionally, “tutors don’t give grades, so they are arguably more approachable for a student who might be intimidated by their instructor,” observes Jackson. From his experience, Dr. Jackson sees the benefits of a strong relationship between tutor and student. “Its easier to fill in the learning gaps when BOTH sides are invested: the relaxed inquisitive student AND the engaged tutor.”
Dr. Jackson highlights the importance of accessing tutoring early in the year. “Students/parents who reach out for tutoring early in the academic year have an exponential advantage over others who wait until they’re mired in academic quicksand. That is, a consistent student-tutor synergy that develops over the course of several months is often more effective than a spotty appointment the day before an exam.
Tutors must learn from their students as well, and it’s easier to implement solutions when a tutor can anticipate where struggles are likely to occur.”
Buy In By Both
An imperative part of tutoring success is the student’s buy in. Parents’ natural reaction is to try and help their child themselves. Judkins explains that he sees many cases of well-educated parents who want to help their child, but whose assistance is shunned. As parents know all too well, picking and choosing parental battles is essential for survival and outsourcing help may well be a worthwhile tactic to use.
When selecting a tutor, parents should ask some fundamental questions about subject area experience but in addition a personality match is also key to the success of a tutoring relationship. Parents need to determine if the child would respond to a dynamic personality or one that is all business. Tutors should also be trained in a variety of teaching techniques, as there are many learning styles.
For example, one student may be a visual learner, while another may be an experiential one. A qualified tutor should be able to identify the student’s style and then explain how he or she will adapt their teaching approach accordingly. Also, it is not unusual for a tutor to assist in getting “buy-in” with an apprehensive student.
The Ultimate Answer
Parents may feel overwhelmed when facing the tutor decision, but by asking the right questions in regards to the student’s needs and through some focused interviewing of some tutors a match should ensue. Will it work? A dedicated tutor will help improve the probability of success, however the primary driver will still come back to the student’s willingness to work and learn. Tutors can help through their passion, skills and ability to adapt teaching to the child’s needs. The student still must have a willingness to listen, learn and work.
For more information about Greenwich Education Group tutoring services, contact Torsie Judkins at 203-661-1609, ext. 100 or [email protected]