When a Tutor is Needed

This article is geared towards parents, but by all means, if you are a student seeking advice on whether or not to hire a tutor, this piece could provide some service.So let me begin by saying that you, the parent, can give your son or daughter a huge boost by hiring a tutor, but when and why to get one can sometimes be a difficult decision to make, and it’s not always up to grades. There are a couple situations where I feel a tutor can make the most impact in a student’s life, and it is the parents’ responsibility to figure out when those moments are. So read on, and see if you or your children are in any of these situations.

When Parental Assistance Becomes Harmful

It might sound odd, but too much parental assistance can actually hinder development. “Helicopter Parents” is the buzz word nowadays, and without a doubt, there are parents out there that want to micro-manage everything in their children’s lives. Don’t. There is a ton of literature on the benefits of giving kids certain freedoms. Give Free-Range Kids: How to Raise Self-Reliant Children (Without Going Nuts with Worry) by Lenore Skenazy a read and see what you think on the matter. Not personally getting overly involved with your kid’s education might actually be a benefit.

Now, I want to be perfectly clear: You should care about your child’s educational development and their career prospects post high school. You should definitely care about his or her grades. You should discuss goal setting. But hold-off on assisting too much with homework, assignments, and other school related tasks. This situation is where a tutor comes in. You are still very much a part of your child’s education and are providing for their needs…without butting your nose obtrusively into the mix. As an aside, imagine if all you parents out there had your mom or dad going through your homework and assignments with you. Ugh. No, these things are best left to tutors.

When Communication with your Children Becomes Difficult

Sometimes, your offspring just don’t want to listen to old mom and dad anymore. It’s a perfectly normal part of adolescent behaviour, and most adolescents rebel because they feel their individuality is being robbed; they must conform to societal norms. I get that. However, it can be hard to get your position across as a parent, notwithstanding the fact you’ve been down the same path as the one laid out before your son or daughter. A chasm can form between parents and children very quickly, especially if your kids feel as if you are trying to force them in a certain, specific direction, one that they perhaps don’t want.

If you find yourself in the above position, a tutor might be a good idea. A tutor can help focus your son or daughter by providing an impartial, perhaps sympathetic, ear in a way that parents cannot. And it is the job of a tutor—any tutor worth his or her salt, anyways—to set goals with their pupils and help them achieve those goals. When a parent tries to do so, it may come across as preachy or even pushy. So if your child feels that you are trying to manipulate their future, consider a tutor.

When Teachers aren’t Enough

This is the more traditional need a tutor can fill. And honestly, teaches are overloaded as it is; they have a tough job, and sometimes students fall behind. Don’t blame the teacher; there could be any variety of issues as to why your child is behind: overloaded schedule, part-time job, too much homework, personal relationships, even family issues, just to name a few. However, it’s up to parents to realize—and hopefully realize fast—that their child has fallen behind. It might take a bad report card or a call from a concerned teacher or even a candid conversation to realize what has happened.

I personally like to divide this situation into two categories: Behavioural issues and application issues. Behavioural issues are harder to deal with because you have a bright child with little to no motivation and/or desire. I daresay this issue happens to more boys than girls, and it has to do with goal setting. If your child is constantly frustrated, saying things like, “I’ll never use this. Why do I need to learn this?” you have a lack of goal setting. Have your tutor make figuring out a goal a priority in those initial sessions, or you run the risk of similar problems in the future.

For application issues, it comes down to learning style. For whatever reason, the course content was not delivered in a way that resonated with your son or daughter. Consider your children’s personality to determine learning styles that would succeed or fail and relay that info to your tutor. Here’s a quick example that happened to me over a skype session last week: I was describing the organization for essay introductions, and my student read me his introduction a good three times without making the change I was telling him to make. He is not an auditory learner, so I had him type his intro into skype chat, and I made the change for him, sending him the revision through the IM. Boom. Lightbulb. A tutor can provide these moments in a way that a teacher in a class of 35 cannot.

There are many reasons why your son or daughter might need a tutor. For one, you have to decide if you are too big a part of your child’s life and look for outside assistance. For another, you might be having issues communicating with your kids and need someone to give an unbiased perspective you cannot. And finally, sometimes you need to get a tutor when teachers aren’t enough, either because of behavioural or application issues. If I missed any, or if you have an idea for a future article, leave a comment and I’ll see what I do! ‘Till next time.