When you were growing up, you were probably under the misconception that tutoring was 1) expensive and therefore only for wealthy students and 2) only for students who were falling behind.
The truth is, millions of students are being tutored across all corners of the globe, plenty of whom fall far outside those two categories. Tutoring is for everyone, regardless of their constraints or misconceptions.
But that doesn’t make it any easier to know how or when to get started. A good first step is learning the different types of tutoring.
The 5 Types of Tutoring
Corrective - Focusing on areas that are difficult for a student and practicing unmastered skills that help them get closer to grade level.
Maintenance - Practicing skills (such as organization) that help students at grade-level star on track with academic goals.
Support - A combined approach focusing on trouble spots and current classwork for students struggling in a particular subject.
Enrichment - Tutoring to provide additional skills/strengths or focus on a student's special interests.
Test Prep - Focusing on techniques for improving test-taking skills involving specific test content and formats.
Determining your child’s needs means being sensitive to verbal and visual cues, or symptoms. This is probably something you’re already doing on a daily basis. And it’s important to realize that while the causes of many of these symptoms relates to academic performance and how your child reacts to it, they can also be situational (like changing schedules) or behavioral (learning disabilities or increased interest in a subject/skill).
And while it’s not necessary to know these five exact names, making an educated guess at the best fit for your child will make your tutor search more seamless.
The following is a helpful list of the seven major symptoms that lead down the road to tutoring.
Symptom 1: A Loss of Confidence
For students experiencing drops in self-esteem relating to their schoolwork, it can become verbal. Many parents can relate to two key phrases from the mouth of their child who is experiencing confidence issues. Negative statements like “I hate [enter school related word here]”and “I’m the dumbest kid in class” can become a motto of sorts, and one that scares parents.
When children don’t feel like they don’t have the time to figure things out, or the permission to struggle, it makes them feel dumb. It could also be the result of unrealistic teacher expectations. Regardless of its root, this leads many children to want to run and hide.
Recognizing this should be as much a positive moment as a negative one. Diagnosis makes that battle an easier one to fight, especially when you pair them with someone who is skilled at understanding and addressing their emotional needs.
Symptom 2: Surprising Drops in Test Scores
Perhaps the most obvious symptom is a decrease in test scores or grades.
Depending on whether results drop across the board or just in one class helps in diagnosing the problem. Students whose grades lower in multiple subjects are missing fundamental skills—study skills, organization, etc. If the decline happens in a specific subject, however, it’s likely confusion around an unmastered concept.
As part of your tutor search, validate where they’re struggling by reaching out to the teacher. They’re undoubtedly paying extra attention, and might be gathering additional observations to discuss with you. Asking specific questions about in-class behavior and content weaknesses will be powerful knowledge, especially as you match that information against prospective tutor assessments against.
Symptom 3: Constant Procrastination
Much like declining scores, procrastination is a sign of a larger issue, namely uncertainty with key concepts that they are expected to know. This is especially true if you find your student ignoring your homework reminders.
In younger kids, procrastination manifests itself as a dependence on parents for homework help. Hearing “I was waiting for you to help me” nightly is a dead ringer, and so are minor flare-ups that come when you try to get them started.
With older students, it’s more likely you’ll see your teen staying up to do homework into the late hours of the night. In either case, take note of the subject matter they are going over in class. That information will become part of the foundation for an efficient tutoring experience.
Symptom 4: Parents’ Shifting Schedules
If you or your spouse is taking on additional commitments at work, it can have an effect on your ability to provide homework help. Likewise, when students’ workloads increase as they get older, completing that work takes more time.
Regardless of the culprit, for many families it’s a fine balance between the amount of study time children need and the amount of time parents can devote. It doesn’t always take a lot to disrupt that balance, and doing so might have an adverse effect on grades.
The positive is, when caught early, these shifts do less damage to your child’s chances for success.
Symptom 5: A Recent Diagnosis
While a recent diagnosis for a learning disability is a relief compared to the aggravation of not knowing what’s happening, it doesn’t take away the struggles. The good news is some very important questions have been answered and, as a parent, you can feel confident in the guidance that’s available.
But it’s not much easier for your child to stay on the same academic track as their peers. Just because there is more of a prescription to how they learn doesn’t instantly make it better.
A private tutor is an extension of that prescription. They not only plan to the way your child learns, they play a vital role in helping you both become comfortable with that new understanding.
Symptom 6: Unfamiliar Testing Scenarios
University entrance, AP, and end-of-year tests represent an entirely foreign experience for students. That’s why test preparation relies on a specific format and approach over content and subject matter. Unfortunately, outside of Advanced Placement, these things are not uniformly taught within school curriculum.
Making matters more difficult is the fact that high-stakes tests fray the nerves of students. It’s the emotional factor which makes a private tutor more beneficial than any other form of test prep. Not only do you get an experienced guide, but someone who can move to the cadence of your student and preempt issues by knowing how they think.
Type: Test Prep
Symptom 7: A Deep Interest in Something New
Has your child recently thrust upon you strings of questions about how computers (actually) work? Or what makes a planet different than a star?
Playing to their curiosity means building their appreciation for learning, if not their academic mindset. Don’t take those hours of space documentaries and unexpected Google Searches too lightly.
Guided learning is the best way to help them explore new subjects and reduce the friction of learning. As an added benefit, it might even provide you and your child a new way to connect with each other.
Overall, a private tutor can present information in a way that caters to the students needs, making it easier for a child to understand. Most importantly, the emotional connection that comes with one-on-one instruction can make school less difficult and learning more enjoyable.