t can happen to the best of us. Your child is doing well in school and everything is fine until one day you wake up and C’s or maybe even D’s are coming in left and right. You think to yourself, “What is going on???!”
It can be extremely frustrating to you as a parent to watch your child struggle, but it’s especially difficult to digest when it happens all too quickly. You feel that your back is completely against a brick wall because you have no idea how to help them other than to get a tutor. Well, as a parent and tutor, I would advise you that a tutor should not be seen as the only focus of your immediate solution.
Hiring a tutor alone will not get you to the bottom of what’s really going on and get you that quick fix that you really need while you work on getting your child back on track. That’s not something that most tutoring companies will share with you, but at Tutor Partners, we are serious about education and genuinely want students to succeed regardless with or without or help. Here are some other things that you must do at home immediately to get those grades up fast!
1. Have a detailed conversation with your child’s teacher(s).
Speaking to the teacher may seem like a no-brainer but it’s not as simple as calling the teacher up or emailing and asking what’s going on. You need to be very specific about the questions that you ask, such as:
How long has my child been having issues in your class?
What does he struggle with specifically?
How long has he been struggling?
What have you identified to be his greatest weaknesses?
What are his greatest strengths?
What are you currently working on in school?
How does my child rank compared to the other students in your class?
Is there any concern about learning challenges/special needs?
If so, would you recommend that we have him evaluated?
Are there any specific areas/sections where he underperforms on exams? For example, does he skimp on essay questions, short answer questions, word problems (for younger learners in math class)?
What recommendations do you have to help him improve quickly?
2. Speak with (not to) your child about what’s happening at school.
Try to get a feel from them as to where they struggle the most and what their concerns are. If your child is in the 3rd grade or above, this might be the best place to start, since no one will be able to give you a better idea of what’s going on in your child’s head better than they, themselves, can. Even if your child cannot articulate their ideas well, they should be able to share their views as to how, why and where they are having trouble, to some extent. Here are a few questions to ask them:
How do you feel about how things are going at school?
Are there any classes where you feel you might need more help?
Are you worried at all about your grades and test scores?
Have you ever expressed to your teacher that you need extra help?
If so, how does the teacher support you when you ask for help?
What do you think you can do to improve or make learning easier?
What subjects are your favorite/least favorite?
Which teachers do you enjoy learning from the most/least?
What do you think we can do at home to support you better?
How would you feel about working with a tutor or your teacher after school?
3. Identify areas where your student struggles the most, especially those that are crucial for getting him to the immediate next level.
In most cases, when a student is struggling with a subject or even multiple subjects, there are gaps that need to be filled. The best way to fill those gaps is to identify the areas of weakness with help from the student, teacher and/or tutor and a specialist, if needed.
Once you discover those missing links, you’ll want to first focus on areas that are required knowledge for concepts/topics that are currently being covered and those that will soon follow in school. This is important to keep in mind, since some students may have a long list of weaknesses, some of which may not necessarily be prerequisites for topics to be covered in the immediate future. Therefore, it is important to prioritize those topics that are most important, beginning with what will be tested next (I’ll share my thoughts about testing in another post. I’m not a fan of focusing on testing, but I am emphasizing the idea of starting with this as it’s one of the key areas of focus in our current education system.).
After you’ve figured out what the next test will cover, work your way backward. This is the tricky part. Depending on the subject, your student’s grade level and abilities, you may need to work on helping him master skills from a previous topic or topics, quarter or even grade. This is when you might want to consider contacting us for a free assessment.
4. Getting help from your child’s teacher and/or a tutor.
Many schools have afterschool hours set aside where your child can meet with their teacher, a tutor or coach for a few days a week to help them improve. This can be helpful if they are fully aware of the student’s needs and are truly taking the time to focus on their weaknesses.
Some schools run exceptional afterschool academic support programs. However, I have worked with students who’ve tried this and in many cases, the afterschool support person is only focusing on the student’s current needs versus taking the time to narrow down the real issues needed for improvement. This arrangement can be a complete waste of the student’s time and may seriously slow down his progress, which can lead to a further decrease in confidence and motivation, which could, in turn, affect performance in other areas of academics or life.
A tutor, on the other hand, is an educator that is experienced in working with students, privately or in small groups, to quickly identify strengths and weaknesses and utilize the best strategies and practices for helping them improve as quickly as possible. Having a tutor onboard provides an additional set of eyes, ears and insight from another educator who can evaluate the situation, help your child regain confidence and support them outside of school hours.
5. Practice, Practice, Practice
Setting a weekly schedule for practice 2-3 days weekly (if not daily) for about 30-60 minutes between tutoring sessions and ensuring that it is implemented is crucial to your student’s success. One of the biggest homework complaints that we hear from parents is the fact that their child isn’t getting enough math practice, which is ironically one of the subjects that students struggle with the most, especially as they approach high school.
Including 20-30 minutes of reading daily is also key to students developing fluency, vocabulary and writing skills at every level. For students in 5th grade and up, establishing a habit of reviewing class notes on a regular basis will set the stage for easier preparation for upcoming tests. It will also allow the student time to discover additional questions they may have or areas that require further clarification.
Completing additional practice provided by their teacher, from workbooks or online resources will help your student develop and master skills needed for success. .
If your child is struggling in school now, it’s important that you act quickly and get them some help right away. The longer you delay, the more difficult it will be to get them back on track to regaining confidence and better grades again.
Schedule a free assessment now and let us support you and your child in achieving academic success. To learn more about the results families have received while working with us, read our reviews here.