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So You Hired a Tutor, Now What?

So You Hired a Tutor, Now What?

If you’ve hired a tutor for your child, obviously you’ve decided your child needs more help than you can provide on the given topic. However, you may discover there are more questions than answers, like who decides what is covered, how much time is enough, should there be homework, and when is tutoring no longer needed? Before we can answer those questions, you need to know a few things yourself.

Why did you hire a tutor?

Not all families hire a tutor for the same reason. If your child needs help to learn a specific concept like borrowing in subtraction or to improve a general subject area like writing, the answers to those first questions will be different. Are you simply looking for homework support, help with overall organization, or is there a specific project to be completed? Many families find alternate ways to provide extra academic support without the extra expense (ie. neighbors, family, friends, sitters, au pairs, nannies, after-school, community, church or library programs).

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Make sure you set a goal before you hire a tutor

    Be sure you know why you have a tutor and have an idea of what to expect out of the relationship. After all, you are likely paying upwards of $25-$40 per hour for an experienced tutor (or even more from chains like TutorDoctor). Many tutors have basic ground rules, like communicate about changes to schedules, specifics of what will be covered, payment details, etc. Be clear with regard to these details whenever possible. Kids should know, too, that the tutor is here to help with a specific task and is to be treated as a professional.

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    Who decides what is covered?

    That depends on your reason for hiring. If you need a specific project completed, a specific skill mastered or regular homework help, the work of the tutor is mainly driven by the assignment at hand (ie. topic of the project, homework assigned that night). If a child is attempting to master subtraction with borrowing, for example, the tutor may use examples from the book, homework assignments, or provide manipulatives to practice the concept like base ten blocks, chips or others. If a child needs homework help, it would not make sense for the tutor to bring in extra work or make up additional assignments to add to the load. In my experience, parents do not provide materials or dictate specific content but may have suggestions about what might work best for their child. Both must have input; after all, it is the tutor who has the academic knowledge and the parent who knows their child best.

    Should there be homework?

    The answer again depends on the reason for tutoring.  If the tutor is hired to support the completion of some assignment or project, there should be interim steps completed without the tutor’s assistance. Progress should not come to a screeching halt without the tutor. Kids need to learn proactive steps to help themselves whenever possible, even if they will struggle. Encourage ownership and work ethic in every child, rather than dependence on others.

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    If you’ve hired a tutor to help with homework or organization, the “homework” should be to accurately complete daily assignments, write in a daily agenda or planner, and keep folders organized until the next meeting. While tutoring may occur once or twice a week, kids who need organizational support often need daily check-ins. This may happen by phone or email with a tutor, or become a task assigned to a parent, sitter or older sibling between tutoring sessions. Teachers may be willing to work with a tutor to provide consistent support from week to week.

    When is tutoring no longer needed?

    Naturally, the answer varies. For the individual who needs to improve organization or overall writing skills, there may be no clear end date. It may be when the student or parents feel there has been some progress, or a change in school year, teacher, attitude or approach may eliminate the need for tutoring. Often just the process of having a tutor, discussing the process of learning and becoming more aware of the steps to success will result in students taking more responsibility for their learning.

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    Generally speaking, with regular and focused sessions (on a specific concept, task or assignment), positive results may be seen right away or within a couple of weeks. Effort on the part of the student is required, though, for improvement and success. While I have tutored some kids for as long as two school years, the purpose and goals morphed over time with my students, responding to needs as they arose.

    Is it over yet?

    For whatever reason you decided to hire a tutor, be sure you have an idea of what your child’s learning or behavior will look like when he or she no longer needs the extra help. It may be that your child matures, finds success where he or she had struggled, or completes the desired project or assignment. When you feel the tutor has been successful or helpful to your child, ask your child to determine if he or she feels the same. Don’t pull the rug out from under a kid who still needs help, but also make sure your kid knows you may not pay for extra help indefinitely.

    On the other hand, if you’ve been paying a tutor and see no change after several weeks, it is fair to look for alternate ways to support your child (which you may have done before hiring a tutor). Talk to your child. Is there something he or she could be doing differently, does he or she have a desire to improve or are there other issues needing addressing? Even the best tutor with the most patience and the newest manipulatives cannot cure a bad attitude or motivate an unmotivated person. Consider a tutor as extra support, guided practice or help in times of struggle, not the solution to every academic or educational pitfall.

    Featured photo credit: Shutterstock via pixabay.com

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    Joan Lowell

    Educator, Writer

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    Published on November 7, 2018

    How to Homeschool in the 21st Century (For All Types of Parents & Kids)

    How to Homeschool in the 21st Century (For All Types of Parents & Kids)

    In 2016, it was estimated that 1.7 million children were being homeschooled in the U.S, roughly 3.3% of all school-aged children.[1] Although this may not sound like a big portion of the population, the growth rate of homeschooling has been 7 to15% per year for the last two decades.

    The burgeoning numbers are not a coincidence. There are tremendous benefits to homeschooling, including one-on-one teaching, adaptability to individual needs and learning styles, a safe learning environment, encouraging learning for knowledge rather than grades, and tailoring a curriculum to the child’s interests.

    Is homeschooling something that you have been considering for your family? With all of the tools and resources available for homeschoolers in the 21st century, it may be easier than you think.

    How to Homeschool (Getting Started)

    After thinking it through, you’ve decided that homeschooling is the right step for you and your family. Now what? Here are the first things you should do to get your homeschooling journey started on the right track.

    Figure Out the Laws

    Homeschooling is regulated by the state, not the federal government. The first step is to find the current and accurate legal requirements mandated by your state in order to educate your child legally.[2]

    The regulations can vary widely, from strict guidelines to no guidelines at all. However, don’t be overwhelmed by the legal jargon. There are many resources and local communities for homeschooling families that can help you figure out the logistics.

    Decide on an Approach

    Every child’s needs are different. This is your chance to choose the homeschooling style or combination of styles that best fits your child’s learning style and interests. A brief description of seven different homeschooling methods are listed below.

    Supplies/Resources

    Often times, purchasing a homeschooling curriculum is done too early in the planning process, resulting in buyer’s remorse.

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    A curriculum is not always needed for homeschooling, and other types of free or less structured resources are readily available.

    Find a Community

    Getting connected with a community of homeschoolers is one of the most important parts of building a successful and thriving homeschool environment for your kids.

    Look for communities online for virtual support or a local group that you and your kids can interact with. Partnering with others fosters better socialization skills for the students and provides opportunities for field trips, classes, and outings that wouldn’t have otherwise been a part of the homeschooling experience.

    7 Different Homeschooling Methods

    1. School-At-Home

    Also known as Traditional homeschool, School-At-Home uses essentially the same curriculum as the local private or public school but at home.

    The lessons can be completed independently, but more commonly, they are administered by a parent or a teacher-facilitated online school.

    • Benefits: formal standards, wide selection of curricula, same pace as peers, short-term friendly
    • Drawbacks: expensive, inflexible, time consuming, parent can get easily burnt out
    • Resources: K12, Time4Learning, Abeka

    2. Classical

    One of the most popular homeschooling methods used, it borrows educational practices from Ancient Greece and Rome. Subject areas are studied chronologically so that students can understand the consequence of ideas over time.

    Socratic dialogue fosters effective discussions and debate to achieve beyond mere comprehension. There is often a strong emphasis on Great Books[3] as well as Greek and Latin.

    3. Unit Studies

    Rather than breaking up education into subjects, unit studies approach each topic as a whole, studying it from the perspective of each subject area.

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    For example, a unit study about animals could include reading books about animals, learning about the classification of animals, figuring out which animals live on which continents, etc. This method is often used as a technique in other more comprehensive educational methodologies.

    • Benefits: promotes thinking about concepts as a whole, not monotonous or redundant, student-directed, bolsters weaker subject areas, beneficial for teaching multi-age students
    • Drawbacks: incomplete, knowledge gaps, curriculum-dependent
    • Resources: Unit Study, Unit Studies, Unit Studies Made Easy, Konos

    4. Charlotte Mason

    This Christian homeschooling style utilizes shorts periods of study (15-20 minute max for elementary, 45 minute max for high school), along with nature walks and history portfolios.

    Students are encouraged to practice observation, memorization, and narration often. With a focus on “living books” (stories with heroes, life lessons, socio-ethical implications), reading plays a big role in this student-paced teaching style.

    5. Montessori

    Maria Montessori developed this method through working with special needs children in the early 20th century.

    With a primary focus on the student setting the pace and indirect instruction from the teacher, this approach includes free movement, large unstructured time blocks (up to 3 hours), multi-grade classes, and individualized learning plans based on interests.

    6. Unschooling

    Unschooling is a learning model largely based on the work of John Holt.[4] The teaching style focuses mainly on the students’ interests, putting priority on experiential, activity-based, and learn as you go approaches.

    For basic skills such as reading, writing, and math, a systematic technique is employed, but testing and evaluations are typically not utilized. Teachers, in general, play more of a facilitator role.

    7. Eclectic/Relaxed

    As the most popular method of homeschool, eclectic homeschooling is child-directed, resourceful, and non-curriculum based.

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    Parents can sample any combination of homeschooling methods and styles or resources. One growing sector of eclectic homeschooling combines part homeschooling with part traditional schooling.

    How to Facilitate Homeschooling with Technology

    One of the reasons homeschooling is more feasible than ever before is due to the accessibility of tools and resources to enhance the learning process.

    Email

    Email is a tool that has really stood the test of time. Invented in 1972, it is still used today as a primary means of communicating on the Internet.

    It is a great way to share assignments, links, and videos between parent and student.

    Google Drive/Calendar

    Google Drive offers a multitude of essential programs that can come in handy for homeschoolers, such as Docs, Sheets, Slides, and more.

    With its sharing capabilities, easy accessibility, and auto-save ability, it’s easier than ever to organize and complete assignments. It will improve students’ writing and typing skills, as well as eliminate the need for paper.

    Google Calendar is an excellent tool for tracking assignment due dates, planning field trips and activities, and developing time management skills.

    Ebooks

    Rather than invest in physical copies of books, ebooks are a wonderful option for saving money and space. There are plenty of places that offer a free or paid subscription to a wide selection of ebooks:

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    E-Courses

    When a structured curriculum is necessary for teaching a certain topic, an e-course is the way to go.

    From watercolors to calculus, there are e-courses available about almost everything. Including different teaching styles that vary from the parents will encourage students to learn in different ways.

    The visual and auditory stimulation will also be beneficial in helping students understand and retain the concepts being taught.

    Some recommendations:

    Youtube

    Youtube is not just a platform for music videos and cats doing funny things. There are a number of Youtube channels that produce quality educational videos, free of charge.

    Creating a playlist of videos for various topics is a great way to supplement a homeschool education.

    Some recommendations:

    Final Thoughts

    Homeschooling in the current age looks much different than it did ten years ago. There are more options and more flexibility when it comes to educating kids at home.

    Don’t be overwhelmed by the idea of homeschooling your children if it could make a positive impact on your family.

    Featured photo credit: Hal Gatewood via unsplash.com

    Reference

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