Last week, we talked about the struggle some parents face when deciding whether to start their child’s school year off with an instructor/tutor or not. Stern Center Program Manager of Instruction Michelle Szabo gave some tips on how to make this decision a little easier. If you happened to miss it, see what she had to say in Realistic? Optimistic?: Choosing the right –mistic before it becomes a mist–ake. This week, we’ll delve even further into the process and offer some helpful advice on how you can reassure your child and help them recognize the rewards of having a one-to-one instructional experience.
It is not surprising that children are often resistant to the prospect of having a tutor. It is also not difficult to understand that they may be feeling a mix of emotions about the fact that they have to see an instructor/tutor. Some children may feel embarrassed that they need extra help and may do anything to hide their sessions from their friends. Others may be resent their parents or feel angry that they have to spend additional time working on schoolwork instead of doing something fun after a long day at school. For some, the thought of having to work one-to-one with an instructor can induce anxiety.
Considering all these emotions, it is important that children be reassured that the tutoring experience can be a positive experience. Parents armed with the skills to reduce their child’s concerns and encourage (and maybe even excite) them will result in a more enjoyable experience for all parties involved.
So to help avoid those arguments in the car on the way to the first session, here are Michelle Szabo’s four tips to promote positivity and prepare your child for tutoring
1. Schedule an Introductory Session with your Child’s Instructor
To help your child get acclimated to the tutoring process, it is important they are given the chance to ease into it. Before jumping right into tutoring sessions, schedule an introductory session between you, your child, and the instructor. At the Stern Center, parents are able to schedule an abbreviated half-hour introduction session with the instructor. This gives the child an opportunity to meet their instructor with their parent first and then one-to-one so both student and instructor can learn a bit about each other before working together. This is also a great time for you, the loved one, to discuss your expectations and goals for the semester with your child’s instructor.
2. Reframe the Relationship
Many times, children may not know how to interpret the dynamic of a tutor/tutee relationship. They may be concerned that their instructor will criticized them for what they are doing wrong. Instead, help your child reframe the relationship with their instructor by explaining that their instructor is just like a coach in sports or a music teacher. Just like a soccer coach who is teaching a child how to properly kick the ball and succeed on the field, an instructor teaches the academic skills required to help them succeed in the classroom. Instructors are there to give advice, support, and guidance, just like their coaches.
3. Go Beyond the Grades
Tutoring is so much more than just making sure your child gets their grades ups. It is about providing a strong support system for your child that they feel they can rely on. At the Stern Center, our instructors believe that building a strong rapport with their students makes them more effective and enables the child to make greater strides. By establishing a relationship of mutual respect and trust, the student feels comfortable revealing their areas of struggle to their instructor so that the two may find ways to conquer the challenges together. Assure your child that at tutoring, they can feel free to struggle, soar, and succeed with their instructor so that eventually they can shine in the classroom.
4. Eliminate the Audience
For those children more nervous by nature, emphasize to them the benefits of one-to-one tutoring compared to classroom learning. If your child experiences performance anxiety then encourage them in that they don’t have to worry about an audience when with their instructor. Reassure them that their tutoring session is a safe space for them to ask questions and learn at a pace that is most comfortable for them. This will make your child feel like they have more control over the situation and empower them to take charge of their own learning.
We hope you found these tips helpful and that you feel better prepared to approach your child with the idea of school-year instruction. It is important for both you and your child to feel comfortable when entering into a new commitment (such as tutoring) where you’ll be meeting new people in new places. If you still have more questions or concerns and wish to ensure that you and your child are on the same page upon approaching this process, we encourage you to contact our Intake Coordinator at 802-878-2332, extension 323.
Michelle Szabo is Program Manager of Instruction at the Stern Center for Language and Learning in Williston, VT and West Lebanon, NH. She received her Master of Science in Education from Simmons College in 1998 and taught at the Landmark School in Massachusetts before returning to Vermont. She has been with the Stern Center as an Instructor and Manager since 2002, and is certified in many intensive instruction programs supporting reading, writing, executive function and spelling. In addition to teaching school aged students, Michelle also works with educators and schools, providing consultation and professional learning workshops. She lives in Jeffersonville with her husband and children. In her free time she enjoys baking, reading and playing board and card games.
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