Summer is almost over and sun-filled family activities such as barbecuing, camping, swimming, and biking are coming to an end. Now it is time for both parent and child to switch gears and start preparing for the school year.
This also means parents need to start making some decisions on how best to help their children start the school year off right.
For some parents, the uncertainty of how their child will cope with new classes, new challenges, and new friends can make the beginning of the school year an unpredictable and nerve-racking couple of months. Sometimes, that first report card comes as a sigh of relief and other times as a wake up call. So what is a parent to do? How is one to know whether they need to be proactive in supporting their child or just give them a chance to try (and risk unpredictable outcomes)?
Year after year, there are parents who struggle with whether they should sign their child up for academic tutoring at the beginning of the school year. Many parents don’t want to risk their child thinking the adults don’t have confidence in their ability to succeed on their own. On the other hand, parents also don’t want to risk their child falling behind. Often, a good indicator for judging how well the beginning of the school year will go is observing how well the previous school year ended. Luckily, Stern Center Program Manager of Instruction Michelle Szabo provides insight into some signs that may indicate you should enroll your child in instruction/tutoring at the beginning of the year.
Struggling with a Particular Subject or Skill
When a child is struggling to learn a specific skill or understand a certain school subject, this struggle may manifest in a variety of ways. Some children react with anxiety by expressing concern about their ability to complete homework assignments throughout the entire school year. Some react with frustration, which may come out while doing an assignment, where agitation may grow. Others may respond with sadness by making statements of hopelessness such as, “I will never be able to do this” or “I feel so dumb in this class.” And finally, some may simply avoid it all together, refusing to interact with anything remotely related with their area of struggle. For example, a child who is struggling to learn to read may adamantly insists that they like listening to their parent read aloud to them and strongly resist when asked to read aloud to others.
Lack of Communication
At the end of last year, did you get an unwelcome surprise and discover that your child was not performing well academically? Or did you try and motivate your child to excel in their classes and they brushed your pleas aside? Children, especially those in middle school and high school, can feel either unwilling or unable to talk with their parents about their academic frustrations. Many may feel that their parent will be disappointed, angry, or lack the understanding of what is challenging them in school. Often students respond to non-parental/guardian adults in a more positive and attentive way (following suggestions and taking guidance) than they do to their own parents due to frustrations and tension over homework and schoolwork. If any of these sound familiar about your child, an academic tutor may be an excellent alternative adult to help your child learn to advocate for themselves appropriately and effectively.
High Effort, Low Grades
Last school year, did you notice your child was truly giving 100% but still falling behind or getting poor grades on class assignments or exams? Even though they studied hard; utilizing flashcards, vocabulary lists, rewritten notes, and highlighted passages, did they still come home with a failing grade on the top of their paper? These children want to learn and do well but just have not yet discovered the learning strategies that help them most effectively. An academic tutor can help a child understand their learning style and suggest strategies and tools that will help them succeed.
Many parents want to help their children succeed academically, and the way to do that is through homework support. Sometimes though, you just don’t know how. Do you see your child struggling in their room, or in the kitchen, with starting an assignment? Does your child get stuck on a particular problem, and can’t move on to the others until they figure that one out? If you are feeling like your child needs extra academic help and you are not able to adequately help them (with that pesky algebra homework or explaining the fall of the Ottoman Empire), then perhaps you want to consider getting them a tutor. A tutor or academic coach can be that link between student, parent, and school who facilitates communication, helps establish a plan to get homework done (and turned in!), as well as coaching the student into independence.
We hope you found these tips helpful in determining if an academic tutor is a good fit for your child at the beginning of the school year. We encourage you to check out next week’s follow-up blog post which will have suggestions about how to work with your child to start the process of beginning academic tutoring.