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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 September 21, 2018

    11 Smart Pieces of Advice to Help You Thrive as a Single Mother

    11 Smart Pieces of Advice to Help You Thrive as a Single Mother

    Becoming a mother is one of the most difficult challenges a woman can take on in her life. Whether this happens the “natural” way, with the help of science, or through adoption, being in charge of nurturing another human being is a herculean task to take on.

    Typically, when we think about parenthood, we imagine two parents sharing the responsibility and having each other to lean on. However, according to the 2016 U.S. Census Bureau, 1 in 4 children under the age of 18 are being raised by a single mother.[1] This is a significant portion of the population that often gets overlooked.

    If you are one of these mothers raising your children on your own, you are undoubtedly aware of the additional challenges that motherhood has placed upon you, including the constant struggle to find sufficient time, energy, money, and support.

    For single mothers who find themselves bogged down by their daily responsibilities and struggle to stay afloat, don’t be fooled by the belief that you have to do all. It is possible to thrive and live as a single mother if you take advantage of all available resources and adjust your priorities based on your situation.

    1. Find your community and ask for help

    As the sole caretaker of your kids, going through the successes and struggles of parenthood can feel isolating and lonely. You have probably developed a strong sense of independence because you’ve had to go at it alone.

    Being self-reliant is necessary in many situations that you have to face, but do not fool yourself into thinking that you don’t need support from others. If you have family nearby, strengthen your relationship with them by visiting and talking more often. Find time to catch up with old friends or co-workers, and don’t assume they don’t want to hang out if they are not parents themselves.

    Would you prefer finding mom friends[2] who have more in common with you? Use resources like apps, Facebook groups, and community events to meet local moms in your area.

    After you have established a support group that you can depend on, don’t be afraid to ask for help. It is NOT a sign of weakness or incompetency to admit you can’t do it all, and others are probably more willing to lend a hand than you think.

    If you feel uncomfortable burdening others, suggest trading favors such as taking turns babysitting. Because after all, helping is each other is what community is all about.

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    2. Make peace with the past

    Before you can move forward, you must make peace with your past and not let it define you or rule your life. Whether your journey to single motherhood was through divorce, death, or never having a relationship the father, it is crucial that you leave behind the feelings of abandonment or betrayal you may be struggling with.

    You cannot change the past and the hurt you had to endure, but you can use the strength that you gained from overcoming those obstacles to work towards making the best life for yourself and your child. Learn from the past but live in the present and look towards the future.

    3. Make plans and set goals

    The daily repetition of trying to balance work and home life can make you feel like you are on operating on autopilot. However, it is imperative to set goals for yourself and to keep working towards self-improvement.

    In your personal life, you can set a fitness goal (train for a 5k), a reading goal (read 20 books in a year), or a travel goal (take a trip to Europe). At your job, you can set career goals such as gain leadership experience, get a promotion, or earn a degree or certificate.

    Spend time creating a realistic plan to on how you can go about achieving these goals. Not only will working towards these goals make you a more well-rounded and successful person, they will bring more purpose and fulfillment to your life.

    4. Look for role models

    A great way to jump start your plans for the future is to find a role model or mentor who is further along in their life or career experience. This person can be a great resource when you need guidance on what types of goals to set for yourself and how to achieve them.

    It’s also important to have people to turn to for encouragement during difficult seasons of life. Someone who has been through it before can provide the most genuine reassurance that tough times will get better and that staying positive is best approach.

    5. Rethink your priorities

    Single parents have twice as many responsibilities to take care of, so priorities and expectations must be adjusted accordingly.

    Know that you are not superwoman and striving for a perfectly clean home, no dirty laundry, and home-cooked meals for your kids every day is not a reasonable expectation. It’s okay to take shortcuts sometimes, like serving your kids cereal for dinner or waiting until the next day to wash the dishes.

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    Don’t compare yourself to anyone else and let go of the guilt that you feel for being the only parent that your kids can count on. Give yourself a break and don’t sweat the small stuff.

    6. Make time for me time

    Even though it can be difficult to find, making time for yourself is critical to maintaining your sanity and well-being. Without a built-in partner to take over, finding time to be away from the kids must be done intentionally and planned in advance.

    If you are sharing custody, use the time away from your kids not only doing productive things but also making sure you are taking care of yourself. Sleep, exercise, and balanced diet are not things that can get pushed to the bottom of the priority list. Also make time for fun activities, such as hobbies and creative outlets.

    Even though being a mother is the most important job you have, don’t let it be the only thing that defines you. Time for yourself is more difficult to find if you are the sole caretaker of your kids.

    Use the resources that you have to devote time to self-care, and you and your kids will thank you for it in the long run.

    7. Stay organized

    With so many things to juggle, great organizational skills are an absolute must in order to keep everything moving smoothly. Use apps such as Mint for your finances, Mealime for meal planning, and Cozi as a family organizer for everything from appointments and shopping lists to after school activities.

    Maintain constant contact if you are sharing custody so that it is clearly communicated who will be responsible for what when it comes to your kids. Follow consistent routines in the morning and nighttime so that your kids also know what to expect on a daily basis.

    8. Be flexible (Don’t be a control freak)

    Although it is important to be prepared and stay organized, things don’t always go according to plan.

    When kids get sick and have to stay home or babysitters cancel at the last minute, allow for flexibility by having a contingency plan for childcare and with your employer.

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    For example, make a list of people you can call when you need last minute childcare, or talk to your boss in advance about working from home when emergencies come up.

    Most of all, don’t let unexpected changes stress you out and ruin your day.

    9. Learn to say no (Don’t feel guilty)

    Single mothers have limitations in time, energy and resources that families with two parents wouldn’t be able to understand. Because of these circumstances, it’s important you let go of feelings of guilt and stop trying to do everything and be everywhere.

    You don’t have to say yes to every single birthday party your child is invited to. Your kids don’t have to be involved in sports and extracurricular activities every night of the week.

    Limit the things you do to only the ones that are the most enjoyable and meaningful for you and your family. Doing more things does not make you a better mother; simply a more tired one.

    10. Live within your means

    When you have to raise your family on a single income, budgeting and spending within your means becomes more important than ever.

    If you have outstanding debt that is accruing interest, make it a priority to pay those off as soon as possible. Outlining a budget is the best way to visualize how much money is being spent every month on various things and what is left over.

    Find ways to save money on the necessities by looking for sales at the grocery store, buying some things secondhand, planning out meals.

    After the necessary bills are paid, determine how much can be spent on luxury items such as eating out, vacations, and going to the movies.

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    Don’t let finances be a source of anxiety for you and your family. Keep your bank account in good shape while teaching your kids how to spend money responsibly at the same time.

    11. Spend quality time with your kids

    The time you spend with your kids is so precious and much more limited as a single mother. Make the time that you spend with your kids count.

    Rather than sitting in front of the TV, take them on fun and budget-friendly outings to the park, the playground, or a museum. Use meal times as the perfect excuse to ask them about what they are learning in school and the friends they spend time with.

    When your kids ask you to play with them, look at it as a privilege and an opportunity to bond with them, rather than a distraction or waste of time. Be present when you are with them, with no work or multitasking on your mind. Your relationship with your kids will absolutely reap the benefits.

    Final thoughts

    Being a single mother is not an easy job. That’s why it’s important to use all the resources available to you in order to make this job a little bit easier.

    Using technology, an organization system and a supportive community are just a few examples of things you should utilize to your benefit. It’s also important to shift your mindset and be more practical when it comes to things like priorities and finances.

    Most of all, don’t forget about your own self care. Only when you take care of yourself can you best take care of the people you love.

    Single mothers are some of the most hard-working people out there, and you deserve to have a happy and fulfilling life.

    Featured photo credit: Alvaro Reyes via unsplash.com

    Reference

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