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So You Hired a Tutor, Now What?

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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.

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    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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    Last Updated on January 5, 2022

    How to Help Your Child to Get Better Grades

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    How to Help Your Child to Get Better Grades

    Children are most likely to say that they want to just lounge around or rest for a while after spending hours listening to lecture after lecture from their teachers. There is nothing wrong with this if they had a rough day.

    What’s disturbing, is if they deliberately stay away from schoolwork or procrastinate when it comes to reviewing for their tests or completing an important science project.

    When it seems that it is becoming a habit for your child to put off school work, it’s time for you to step in and help your child develop good study habits to get better grades. It is important for you to emphasize to your child the importance of setting priorities early in life. Don’t wait for them to flunk their tests, or worse, fail in their subjects before you talk to them about it.

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    You can help your children hurdle their tests with these 7 tips:

    1. Help them set targets

    Ask your child what they want to achieve for that particular school year. Tell them to set a specific goal or target. If they say, “I want to get better grades,” tell them to be more specific. It will be better if they say they want to get a GPA of 2.5 or higher. Having a definite target will make it easier for them to undertake a series of actions to achieve their goals, instead of just “shooting for the moon.”

    2. Preparation is key

    At the start of the school year, teachers provide an outline of a subject’s scope along with a reading list and other course requirements. Make sure that your child has all the materials they need for these course requirements. Having these materials on hand will make sure that your child will have no reason to procrastinate and give them the opportunity to study in advance.

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    3. Teach them to mark important dates

    You may opt to give them a small notebook where they can jot down important dates or a planner that has dates where they can list their schedule. Ask them to show this to you so you can give them “gentle reminders” to block off the whole week before the dates of an exam. During this week, advise your child to not schedule any social activity so they can concentrate on studying.

    4. Schedule regular study time

    Encourage your child to set aside at least two hours every day to go through their lessons. This will help them remember the lectures for the day and understand the concepts they were taught. They should be encouraged to spend more time on subjects or concepts that they do not understand.

    5. Get help

    Some kids find it hard to digest or absorb mathematical or scientific concepts. Ask your child if they are having difficulties with their subjects and if they would like to seek the help of a tutor. There is nothing wrong in asking for the assistance of a tutor who can explain complex subjects.

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    6. Schedule some “downtime”

    Your child needs to relax from time to time. During his break, you can consider bringing your child to the nearest mall or grocery store and get them a treat. You may play board games with them during their downtime. The idea is to take his mind off studying for a limited period of time.

    7. Reward your child

    If your child achieves their goals for the school year, you may give them a reward such as buying them the gadget they have always wanted or allowing them to vacation wherever they want. By doing this, you are telling your child that hard work does pay off.

    Conclusion

    You need to take the time to monitor your child’s performance in school. Your guidance is essential to helping your child realize the need to prioritize their school activities. As a parent, your ultimate goal is to expose your child to habits that will lay down the groundwork for their future success.

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    Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

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