How to Help Your Child Improve in School

yellow school bus, student walking, bus stop, bus

I have been a tutor for over 11 years and it’s amazing to see how little things make a huge difference with kids. When a parent realizes their child just needed to understand their homework assignments better, it makes them feel relief. They feel hope to know that it’s not that their child’s struggle is an inability to learn but rather a challenge that should be addressed based on the student’s needs. I understand this very well, having worked with kids of all ages (from 13-year olds taking basic physics to college students requesting that I decipher Calculus 2 for them). I loved school, and for me, that allowed me to excel in unimaginable ways, so I always want to identify the areas kids hate to battle in order to give them a better feeling about school and learning in general. There are ways parents can do build confidence at home!

However, I have no certificates or degrees in teaching, but since I have taken high level math and science classes, I can easily help kids who are learning those same topics now. Additionally, I love English so people who want to improve their writing style or are trying to grasp concepts of grammar, syntax, comprehensive reading, and more are always happy to come to me. But I know that parents out there want a professional with a formal title sometimes, so I found a woman who works for an established tutoring center and asked her a few questions that I hope will help you readers!

Becky Ward is a certified K-12 teacher in Ontario and works at Tutor Doctor as a tutor experience coordinator. She has been actively tutoring for 13 years and an Ontario Certified Teacher for 8 years.

1. What are the benefits of hiring a tutor?

All parents with struggling students have likely experienced the homework meltdown, where the student and the parents struggle through completing homework that the student doesn’t fully understand and all of the frustration and emotion that comes with that challenge. Having a tutor helps to build up the foundational education pieces and concepts that students are missing and raise their confidence, making homework a much less frustrating and emotional experience for everyone. Tutor Doctor goes one step further and combines the knowledge which students need with academic discipline to help them achieve success.

2. What age group do you see the most?

All ages! Tutoring is for everyone! We see students who are just beginning their educational journey, high school students preparing for exams and college or university entry, professionals preparing for designation exams, and adults who want to learn a new language or skill.

3. Is confidence usually the issue?

Confidence is definitely a key piece. For some students it may be the main struggle, but it isn’t always the only one. Students have often been struggling for some time before they begin to work with a tutor and that causes them to lose confidence in their abilities. Students often feel that they aren’t smart enough or that they can’t do it. As tutors, our job is to act, not only as academic coaches, but as confidence coaches as well!

4. How long does it take to see results [in students]?

That depends greatly on each individual student. There is no one size fits all approach to tutoring and there is no one size fits all result. Students will get out of tutoring what they put into it. If students are eager and ready to learn, then they will see the results of their efforts much sooner. If students are a bit reluctant, then they will still see results, it may just take a bit more time.

5. What are the backgrounds of your tutors?

Tutors that work with Tutor Doctor come from all backgrounds! We have tutors who are teachers or have education backgrounds, tutors who are professionals in different fields, such as engineering and chemistry, tutors with graduate degrees, and tutors who are university students. There is no standard tutor, which is great, because it means that we can find the perfect tutor for each student. We match students and tutors based on personality, interests, and goals, in addition to the subject the student is studying to ensure that the student and tutor are able to make a valuable connection with one another.

6. What’s a common question that parents ask?

Parents most often ask about the qualifications of the tutors. As there is no standard tutor, there is no standard qualification. All of the tutors we work with go through an 11 step process and screening to ensure that they are a great fit for our team. They are all subject matter experts that demonstrate our values of understanding, curiosity, ingenuity, ownership, and grit in their roles as tutors and work towards our mission of changing the trajectory of a child’s life. We also ensure that the tutor is the right match for the student by looking at more than just the subject the student is studying. We match students and tutors based on interests, goals, and personalities to ensure that the student and tutor are able to make a valuable connection.

7. What is your best advice to parents struggling to help their child?

You don’t have to do it alone! You don’t have to struggle through homework and all of the emotion that can come with it or watch your child’s confidence fall. Hiring a tutor can help turn hours of homework and struggle into less time spent on homework and more time doing what you love with your child.

8. Is there a benefit in having a sibling tutor as well to help at home?

There can be. It’s always a great idea to keep up the tutoring momentum between sessions by continuing to practice and develop the skills being worked on during tutoring sessions. However, with the close and familiar relationship between siblings, emotions can run much higher than they do with the student and tutor. If it’s working, then it’s worth keeping up, but if it’s not working, then it may be worth stopping to avoid breaking down any of that confidence that the tutor is helping to build.

9. What’s the toughest part of your job?

Graduating students from tutoring! As a tutor you develop a great relationship with your students and care about them and their success. It is so rewarding to see them grow so much that they no longer need your support, but it’s also really hard to see them go.

10. What’s a common misconception parents have about tutors?

That tutors have to be teachers or have an education background to be a quality tutor. Not all people who are great teachers want to make a career out of teaching, so by limiting your tutor selection to only those who are teachers, you’re really limiting the number of great tutors that could be working with your child. What is more important is that the tutor has subject matter expertise, a positive attitude, a mentor mentality, and passion to change the trajectory of a student’s life!

Feel free to leave comments and share with other parents how your child has gained confidence in school or what you recommend for tutoring sessions (some parents prefer helping with an exam where the kid received a poor score where others notice that just walking through a homework problem or project builds up the kid in a positive way)!

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