Recently, the word “tutoring” has come up several times and what made me think about it bit closer was realizing I had engaged in conversations about tutoring with five different people in such a short span of time. What do we do when our children are struggling with schoolwork? Tutoring. It can save your child’s school year and improve your child’s self-esteem. It is something that we as parents, tias or ninas can control.
The friends and acquaintances I spoke with faced similar struggles and had the same questions. What do we do when our children are struggling with school work? They began to wonder if their child wasn’t as bright afterall. They were curious if finding outside tutoring would be effective. They also were nervous about the cost and wanted to know if there was such thing as free tutoring, and of course, they all wondered how would they go about finding a good tutor.
Since I had the same questions several years ago when I first explored tutoring options for my eldest, I was able to provide some feedback based on my experience and now I want to share it with you.
Comadre Tips: First tip: “Get your child the help they need” because the rewards will be significant. Tutoring helped my daughter get back on track in her class and built her confidence. Understanding the material allowed her to participate in class without hesitation. As parents and caregivers, we can help change the common mindset around tutoring. When a student needs extra help, this does not mean that he or she is dumb! It’s pretty upsetting that even in this day in age, some people still think that. Having the wisdom and humbleness to ask for help is something that everyone should admire and reward and not be ashamed of.
Second, praise yourself as a parent! Tackling a problem before it becomes overwhelming is the best thing you can do for your child. When you notice your child’s grades slipping, and you take action in finding additional academic support, you should be proud of this. Finding solutions together will be something you will both remember and are grateful for.
Finally, seeking a safety net tutor to help study for test, to call upon to spot check assignments, and proofread essays can help even those students who are already excelling. Having extra help can make an impact in the success of any student. In college, it is very common for students to spend time at math labs and writing labs getting extra help. If you expose your child to this now, you are preparing them for their higher education as well.
Understanding Why and Creating a Plan
As parents, we sometimes forget that in the classroom one teacher may be faced with thirty or more students. Each student has different abilities, learns differently, and each student has strengths and weaknesses. Yet despite all the differences, for the majority of the lessons, teachers treat the class as if it contained just one type of student. Most lesson plans are designed to fit the needs of an average student, and although they are to gauge how effectively each student is grasping the lesson many times there is not enough time to tailor the needs of each student. A couple of misunderstood lessons can shake up any student, and this is where communication among you and your child is vital. Staying engaged in your child’s assignments, grades and projects on a daily basis helps create open communication on academics. Your child will know that he or she can come to you when there is a problem in the classroom and that you will find solutions together.
If you determine your child needs extra help with a specific subject or with a teacher in general, I think you will agree pinpointing the problem in the classroom is a good start. Do what you can to find out the teaching style, class expectations and ways you can engage with your child’s teacher for a resolution. Maybe your child had a hard time understanding a couple of lessons and the problem can be fixed simply by scheduling additional one on one time with the teacher. For the most part, teachers offer help before school or after school. However if that doesn’t help, try to have a backup plan working simultaneously. Start to search for the right tutoring plan. Remember time is of essence; the longer your child is not grasping the lessons, the more challenging it will be to get on track and stay motivated.
Getting help with tutoring might create a new experience in your family. My daughter has had some pretty awesome tutors and was even inspired to become one herself. She became a student tutor for an elementary school during her junior year in high school and was assigned a student for a semester. This allowed her and the student to get on a plan and improve an area of difficulty. It worked out great! The student’s mom was grateful with the help her daughter received. And my daughter still enjoys being able to help anyone she can; giving back is important in our family.
Did Someone say Free? Hooray! There is such thing as free tutoring!
In Your School: Ask your school about the resources they have on campus. You will find after school programs where tutoring is made free by student volunteers, teachers aides and in some cases, teacher. Many schools have free tutors during scheduled hours at the school library. The drawbacks on that are that sometimes the spots fill up quick and you might not always be able to work with the same person. You won’t know unless you make time to seek all of the options available.
Its important to ask for what you need at your child’s school. If the slots fill up, you have to become an advocate for your child. Work with them AND pressure them until you get what you need. The schools are there to help your child succeed. Sometimes the staff need to be reminded about that. Remind them and get your child the tutoring they need.
In Your Community:
Here’s a link of information by city. These are hit and miss. But again, you have to be an advocate. Ask for what you need. http://dcfs.lacounty.gov/edu/freetutoring/tutoringbycity.html#L
Need something a bit more personal?
If you are looking for a personal tutor to come to your home or meet at the library, this might cost a little bit but it will be worth it. My daughter and I were open to try everything possible, and have absolutely no regrets. When we started our search for a private tutor, I didn’t really know how to start so I did what Comadres always do: I asked all my friends, and I also reached out to coworkers. I found my daughter a private tutor through a co-worker within less than a week. I called the student tutor, asked her a few questions and arranged for my daughter and her to meet right away. I paid the student tutor $10-$15 for 90 minutes, and they met a library twice a week. My daughter’s grades improved significantly. Money well invested!
Here are some things to consider when you have that Initial conversation with a potential tutor:
Get to know the Tutor:
- What are his or her subjects of expertise?
- How long have they been tutoring?
- What kind of training have they received?
- Is tutoring something they do part-time?
- What got them into tutoring?
Share the current situation:
- Plan to share recent graded assignments/test/books being used.
- Plan to share and any learning disability or specific learning styles.
- It might be good to even give the tutor a clear idea of your child’s academic performance in all subjects.
Understand how the tutor plans to help:
- Ask their thoughts on best solution to the situation.
- Ask for their approach on getting your child back on track.
- How long will it take to see improvement?
- How many times will they meet?
- How you will be able to track progress?
- Is there extra homework or study time your child will need to do?
Although some answers may not be concrete the responses should allow you to get a feel for the experience level and feel assured your child will be in the right hands.
Other things to consider:
- Feel out the personality; do you see your child getting along with tutor?
- Set expectations about the times when the tutor will meet and what kind of improvements you expect with grades. This should help you determine if the tutor is being honest and capable or just wanting to make a quick buck. A tutor should not over promise without working with your child.
- Negotiate a cost and payment plan.
If you have more questions, ask us. We’re here to help you! With Comadres in your corner, anything is possible.
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