Is your child passing her classes, but not prepared for the next school year? Is she missing specific skills or lacking strength in some subjects? Maybe she needs a tutor.
Crystal Cotti, owner of Sylvan Learning of Austin, adds another reason to find a tutor. “During the summer, a lot of parents seek academic opportunities to avoid summer learning loss—which school teachers will tell you causes many kids to take a big step backward after a successful school year.”
Cotti says when students start to fall behind, you’ll notice it first in their academic performance and sometimes in their behavior. The worst outcome is when their self-esteem starts to suffer or they lose their love of learning.
For children who’ve fallen behind in school, there’s no better time to catch up than in the summer—when everyone else is standing still. Here are some signs that summer tutoring may be the right step.
Just Passing. This may seem obvious enough, but it is the first place to look. When a child makes a 65 percent on his final grade, he is passing. But is he prepared for the next year?
Decreasing Interest. If your child has expressed frustration or a lack of interest in school, it may be a result of being overwhelmed with the material presented. A tutor can boost her confidence and bring more enjoyment to the subject matter.
Difficulty with Homework. Rare is the child who bounds into the room excited to start his homework. But some children seriously struggle with the task. Check with your child and his teacher. Is he doing the homework and not turning it in, or is he simply avoiding the work altogether? Is it too difficult or too easy? Does he have too many extracurricular activities? Is he too distracted by screen time? Not all of these issues can be helped with tutoring. Getting to the bottom of the issue will take some time, but now is the time to get answers.
Reading Level. During grades K-2, students are learning to read. After that, they are reading to learn. If your child is not a proficient reader by grade 2, it’s time for help from the professionals. Your child’s teacher can let you know her current reading level and where it falls with expectations for her age. If your older child has difficulty with comprehension, every one of her subjects will be affected. If she is a slow reader, she will have difficulty keeping up with assignments. A boost in reading will pay off across the board.
Tutoring and Learning Centers
Tutoring centers are busy places over the summer. Centers might offer both individualized instruction and group classes to accommodate different interests, needs and schedules. “We serve students in pre-K through high school,” says Cotti. “We offer programs in reading, writing, math, study skills and SAT/ACT prep.” Some tutoring centers also offer summer camps focusing on subjects such as STEM topics in robotics, coding and math.
Check your local paper or online classified ads in your search for a tutor. Ask about schedule availability, educational background, teaching experience, assessment techniques, tutoring methods, motivational approaches and locations. You might also ask about rates, how long tutoring might last, results seen with other students and references you can contact.
There are benefits to an online tutoring program, such as flexibility in schedule, frequent interactivity, immediate corrective feedback and the ability to repeat lessons if your child is having difficulty. There are many online options for you to choose. If you’d like to try online tutoring, make sure to check tutor credentials and background, subject expertise and results.
One affordable option is SmartTutor. Their software has won numerous educational technology awards. They have many free lessons available for you and your child to use, even if you are not considering purchasing the unlimited service.
In addition, check your school’s website. There should be links to online learning sites, many of which are paid sites for which your school district has purchased membership. Ask your teacher or counselor what programs are available for summer use and which they recommend for your child.
Whatever path you choose, remember that you are the best motivator for your child. Be sure to express your value of learning, provide a quiet place to study and be sure your child has everything she needs to be a success, even if that means some extra help.
Jennifer VanBuren is a Georgetown educator and mother of three.