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How Online Tutoring Programs Can Help Your Struggling Child

How Online Tutoring Programs Can Help Your Struggling Child

When your child comes home with a less-than-stellar report card, the knee-jerk reaction is often to send them to a tutor for extra help.

While one-on-one, in-person tutoring may help a struggling learner understand a single subject or concept a little better, the child may end up facing similar struggles a little farther down the road if the focus of the tutoring sessions was on simply completing assignments rather than learning concepts – and learning how to learn.

Online tutoring services, such as Mentored, seek to improve upon in-person tutoring sessions and make learning more accessible, individualized, and student-driven. In doing so, they don’t simply teach academics – they teach students how to learn, and how to live.

On-the-Go Learning

There’s no arguing the fact that smartphones and mobile devices have become fairly ubiquitous – even when it comes to children and teens. While the initial reaction may be to assume that the only reason these devices exist is to get kids hooked on games and social media, they absolutely can serve a much more productive purpose.

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Students in need of tutoring can utilize services like Mentored wherever they go. The positive effects of this accessibility simply cannot be overstated. Because of these tutoring apps, learning is no longer something that only happens within the walls of a classroom; it can happen anywhere, at any time. Students can access lessons, multimedia, and other materials while waiting for a ride, sitting in the lunchroom, or after they get dropped off in the morning.

In-person tutoring works around a fixed schedule – and a time limit. Of course, this means tutors have a finite amount of time in which to (hopefully) get their students up-to-speed with the course material. When utilizing online tutoring services, students can spend as much time as they need reviewing materials, replaying videos, and checking in with their tutors in order to understand a concept they are struggling with.

Lastly, mobile tutoring allows students and tutors from across the country to connect as if they were in the same room. This can benefit families in less-populated areas of the country where professional tutoring centers and services are few and far between. Tutors from services such as Mentored have the opportunity to work with students of many different backgrounds, and in doing so increase their knowledge of how all students learn best.

Individualized Support

In a perfect world, tutors would work to ensure that all tutoring sessions – on and offline – are individualized. Unfortunately, many times tutors simply go through lessons and units in the exact same way with each student they work with.

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While most online educational sites, such as Khan Academy, provide overarching lectures that aren’t targeted at any specific demographic, services like Mentored provide students with individualized instruction, as well as follow-up materials that are tailored to each student’s needs.

Vice President of Education at Mentored Alan Cashdollar says, “It’s like teachers giving each student a completely individualized homework assignment.”

This reinforces the notion that learning isn’t just about completing an assignment – it’s about understanding the complex nuances behind the assignments at hand. When students are provided with lessons, assignments, and projects that actually mean something to them, they are more likely to take ownership of their own learning, and understand the importance behind what they’re learning – rather than learning material just to regurgitate it on a test and promptly forget it afterwards.

Student-Driven Learning

Instruction within schools is, traditionally, teacher-centered: The instructor stands at the front of the classroom, lectures to her students, gives a test to assess comprehension, and moves on. Although this has recently begun to change in classrooms across the country, many – if not most – students complete assignments not because they want to, but because their teacher told them to.

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The problem with this mentality is students learn to be reactive not just in school, but in all aspects of life. This can manifest in something as simple as a kid cleaning his room not because he likes the way it looks when it’s tidied up, but because his mom told him to.

But the mentality can have much more detrimental effects. For example, a freshman in college may be used to being given assignments by his high school teacher and completing them because it’s mandatory. However, in many lecture courses, weekly reading and assignments may only be “suggested,” and not completing them won’t have any direct effect on the student’s overall grade. Of course, the student who blows off these suggested assignments will not only fail to learn the material he needs to know in order to pass the class, but he also will lack the background knowledge to move further in his college career.

With online tutoring services, learning is placed squarely in the hands of students. If they don’t understand the tutor’s explanation or need a little more assistance, they can contact the tutor whenever need be. Unlike in-person tutors – who are only available for a set period of time – online tutors make themselves available for quick check-ins throughout the week if their students need their help.

Of course, this means students have to be honest with themselves, as well as their tutors, with what they know and don’t know. Services like Mentored work with children to alleviate the idea that they need to know everything – and strengthen the notion that it’s okay to ask for help. Cashdollar believes asking for help “is not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of self-awareness.”

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Proactive Learning

While many parents sign their children up for tutoring sessions to help them when they struggle with a certain subject or topic, online mentoring programs do more than just help them with their homework: They prepare children to be lifelong learners.

As alluded to before, students need to take control of their own learning in order to be successful in life. It’s not enough to simply know enough to complete an assignment or pass a test. Unfortunately, this is often the aim of one-on-one tutoring sessions. Parents will hire a tutor when they notice their child is struggling, and will discontinue services once their grades begin to improve.

But online tutoring services don’t limit a child’s learning to the material the teacher wants them to learn. In fact, they don’t place a limit at all. Services like Mentored teach children to be proactive in their learning, which fosters in young students the notion that, no matter how much you think you know, there is always more to learn.

Featured photo credit: Computer Science Education Week / CMLibrary Charlotte Mecklenburg Library / Flickr via farm9.staticflickr.com

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Published on May 21, 2021

Bedtimes For Kids At Different Ages (Your Go-To Guide)

Bedtimes For Kids At Different Ages (Your Go-To Guide)

Bedtimes for kids might be one of the most challenging parts of the day. Parents are tired and ready to relax, while kids of all ages seem to find extra energy and want nothing to do with sleep. One more story, one more trip to the bathroom, and one more question quickly make for a late-night, and no one gets the rest they need.

If this happens often, you might start wondering if you and your child are getting the proper amount of sleep and how to make bedtime easier. Why is it so crucial for your child to get enough sleep? What does sleep deprivation look like? How do you improve bedtimes for kids?

How Sleep Impacts Your Child’s Health

Whether young or old, sleep is a vital part of staying healthy. There are many benefits to getting the right amount of sleep while not getting enough can have negative consequences. How does it impact your child?[1]

  • Brain Function – Sleep is linked to certain brain functions such as concentration, productivity, and cognition. These all impact a child’s behavior and academic success.
  • Weight – Sleep patterns affect the hormones responsible for appetite. A lack of sleep interferes with the ability to regulate food intake, making overeating more likely.
  • Physical Performance – Sleep impacts a person’s physical abilities. Proper rest means better performance, concentration, energy, mental clarity, and faster speed.
  • Physical Health – There are many ways sleep promotes health. Sleep heals the body but also helps prevent disease and health issues. Getting proper rest will regulate blood pressure, help prevent heart disease, reduce chances of sleep apnea, reduce inflammation, boost immune system, and lower risk of weight gain.
  • Improve Mental Health – A lack of sleep has a negative impact on mood and social and emotional intelligence. A child not getting proper sleep is more likely to experience depression, lack empathy and be unaware of other people’s emotions and reactions.

Sleep, Risky Behavior, and Teens

Studies found that teens were more likely to engage in risky behavior when they are sleep-deprived. They’ll have problems regulating their mood, making them more short-tempered, aggressive, and impulsive. Their inability to self-regulate can even look like the symptoms of ADHD.[2]

Sleep deprivation becomes hazardous when teens are driving. The impulsiveness and risk-taking, along with exhaustion, put them at a higher risk for accidents. In fact, driving tired is comparable to driving with a blood alcohol content of .08.[3]

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You can see why sleep is so essential to everyone’s health, but how much is needed? What do pediatricians recommend? Is it the same for all ages?

Sleep Recommendations From Pediatricians

Sleep requirements vary by age. It won’t be the same for every individual. Some people find that they need more sleep than others.

Here is a basic guideline of what pediatricians now recommend:[4]

  • Ages 4-12 months: 12-16 hours (including naps)
  • Ages 1-2 years: 11-14 hours (including naps)
  • Ages 3-5 years: 10-13 hours (including naps)
  • Age 6-12 years: 9-12 hours
  • Age 13-18 years: 8-10 hours

Increase the amount of sleep if your child isn’t thriving on the recommended amount.

Signs Your Child Isn’t Getting Enough Sleep

There are ways to tell if your child is getting adequate sleep beyond the usual grumpiness. Here are specific things to watch out for:[5]

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  • Excessive sleepiness during the day
  • Difficulty waking up on time
  • Hyperactivity
  • Depression
  • Inattention
  • Mood swings
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Irritability
  • Impatience
  • Impulse control

As you can see, prolonged lack of sleep can cause relational problems and hinder your child’s ability to do well in school. What can you do if you realize your child is not getting enough sleep? How can you improve bedtimes for your kids?

How to Set Up a Bedtime Routine

Sleep hygiene or a bedtime schedule will help your child fall asleep faster. It will also improve the quality of sleep. You will need to adjust to what works for your family, but the following suggestions can help everyone have a more pleasant bedtime.

For Babies

Most people think they have to let their baby “cry it out” at bedtime. However, there are ways you can teach a baby to sleep without tears, making the experience more pleasant for everyone. In fact, studies show the faded bedtime method—or gentle sleep training—is just as effective as leaving a baby to cry but without the stress.[6] What is gentle sleep training?

Gentle Sleep Training

This method eases babies and young children into falling asleep on their own. There are two ways to do this:

1. Positive Routines With Faded Bedtime

Kids learn to fall asleep easily by using comforting, quiet, and predictable rituals, up to twenty minutes long. The key is to choose a bedtime that’s not too early. A child that isn’t tired will only fight sleep.

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Start the process when your baby or child is sleepy, even if it’s later than you’d prefer. You’ll notice a pattern and quickly discover the time they naturally start winding down. Make this their bedtime for now. They will learn to associate sleep with the routine, and you’ll be able to start fifteen to twenty minutes earlier to slowly adjust their schedule.

2. Sleep With Parental Presence

With this method, you lie down with your baby or child until they fall asleep. Over time, you pay less attention to your child, gradually sitting up, then sitting in a chair. Eventually, your child will be able to sleep without you. A study showed that using this method helped infants sleep longer and wake up less.[7]

Both of these ways take time but are effective and less traumatic than leaving an infant or young child to cry.

More Tips to Help Your Baby Sleep Better

You want to build a routine, but how? What are practical things you can do to help your baby get ready for bed?

Here are tips for a soothing and calm bedtime:[8]

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  • Help set their “internal clock” by exposing them to natural daylight, daytime activities, and the calmness of evening.
  • Block blue light exposure.
  • Make the hour up to bedtime calm, peaceful, and pleasant.
  • Learn how to keep stress minimal for you and your baby.
  • Don’t force sleep. It will increase anxiety and make rest more difficult.
  • Avoid late afternoon naps
  • Prolong the time between nap and bedtime.
  • Feed baby right before bed.
  • Avoid intervening too soon if the baby starts to wake up. Give your child a chance to fall back asleep without your help.

For Elementary-Aged Children

It’s easier to follow a routine if you start young, but it’s never too late to begin. The good news is it only takes a few nights to notice an improvement in your child’s sleep.

These ideas will help you set up a schedule that will encourage your child to fall asleep easier, faster, and for a more extended period.[9]

  • Offer them a nutritious snack.
  • Bathe them.
  • Brush their teeth and go to the bathroom.
  • Read them a story.
  • Sing them a song.
  • Cuddle or massage them.
  • Talk about the day.

For best results, choose a handful of activities and do them in the same order each night. Dim the lights and keep activity minimal to help everyone slow down.

For Teens

They might fight the idea of getting more sleep, but teens will benefit from a routine, too. They’re usually capable of overseeing their bedtime, but a little structure and oversight can help them get the sleep they need. By implementing the following tips, your teen can get better rest.[10]

  • Avoid caffeine in the evening.
  • Limit screen time.
  • Avoid late-night binging.
  • Exercise, ideally sixty minutes a day.
  • Keep the bedroom dark, cool, and quiet.
  • Talk through problems.

Quality Sleep for a Healthy Life

Bedtimes for kids can be an enjoyable part of the day with proper sleep hygiene in place. Not only can it be quality time with your child, but it can also set them on the road to good health and high performance. By implementing these tips, you can ensure proper rest for the whole family and better bedtimes for kids.

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Featured photo credit: Igordoon Primus via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Medical News Today: Why Sleep Is Essential For Health
[2] Child Mind Institute: Teens And Sleep: The Cost Of Sleep Deprivation
[3] Depart of Health: Drowsy Driving Prevention, Teens Ages 16 To 19
[4] AAP publications: AAP Endorses New Recommendations On Sleep Times
[5] Journal of Excellence in Nursing Leadership: Sleep Deprivation In Children A Growing Public Health Concern
[6] Parenting Science: Gentle Infant Sleep Training
[7] BetterHealth: Solutions to sleep concerns (11) – babies 6 to 12 months
[8] Parenting Science: 15 Evidence-Based Baby Sleep Tips
[9] Sleep Foundation: Bedtime Routines For Children
[10] NHS: Sleep Tips For Teenagers

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