Many parents contact us after years of having hired tutor after tutor without seeing their child find success. When this is the case, they’re frustrated, the child is defeated, and no one is excited about starting another relationship with yet another tutor with little hope of seeing a different result.
In all cases, but these cases especially, we work with the student and their parents to demonstrate that a pathway to success does, in fact, exist.
And there are three questions that we use to help reveal that pathway right off the bat.
If you’re a serial tutor hirer or thinking of hiring even your first or second, keep these things in mind, get the answers to these three questions before you spend any more of your hard-earned budget:
How is your child spending their study time?
This question may appear to be self-evident. It’s their student time, so they’re studying.
But, especially if you have an older child, the answer to this question may not be apparent at all—to you, and possibly even to your child who disappears into their room after school.
If you’re considering hiring a tutor to help your child, there are a few likely answers to this question:
1.) They are, in fact, spending the whole time studying, which means they are wasting time and energy on tasks that are not helping them learn.
2.) They are freezing up or spinning their wheels, finding ways to be busy at their desk but not making any progress on their assignments.
3.) They are getting distracted by any of the myriad 21st-century interruptions that can plague all of us.
Each of these answers presents a different problem with a different solution. So it’s essential to determine what is happening specifically to identify who will be the best person to support your child.
Now, I am not trying to set you up to ask your teen or tween what they are doing while they’re working just to be accused of nagging.
Instead, to get the answer to this question, have your child complete a time study for one school week. Consider doing it as a family, so they don’t feel singled out. (You might be surprised what you learn about your own time!)
Then, show the results to anyone you’re considering hiring for support and ask them how they can help solve the specific issues your child is having with their time.
Why are the low grades low?
Before hiring academic support, the next thing you need to know is why your child’s low grades are low.
Here, we want to determine whether the issues they’re facing in school are specific or broad.
To answer this question, do the following:
1.) Determine which of your child’s grades you’re concerned about. Are all of their classes worrying you, or is it just one or two, like math and science?
2.) Especially for the courses you’re concerned about, look at your child’s grades in detail. Don’t just look at the course average. Review the grade for every assignment they have submitted for the term. Most schools give you access to this level of detail through an online grade book. If you don’t have this kind of access, ask your teacher for a copy of your child’s grade book entries in an email.
3.) Looking at the gradebook for one class, determine whether you see
1.) A bunch of 0’s or other indications of missing work
2.) Low scores on all or most of the assignments
3.) Low scores primarily on quizzes and tests
4.) Consider speaking with your child’s teacher about why their grade in the class is low, especially if you’re having trouble interpreting the grade book.
5.) Ask your child about their experience in each of their classes. See if they can give you some insight into what might be working for them in some classrooms and not working in others.
If the answers to these first two questions point to a specific difficulty your child has with a particular subject, reaching out to a subject-specific tutor for weekly or bi-weekly sessions is likely to be fruitful.
If it’s hard to tell what exactly the issue is, or if the challenges appear to be broad-ranging or multi-faceted, consider more holistic support.
What’s the plan?
Anyone you hire to help your child succeed in school should be able to outline their plan to support your child specifically before you hire them.
Let’s say you determine that your child needs a subject-specific tutor (like a math or science tutor) to help them better learn specific material. In that case, the tutor should be able to tell you how they plan to use the session time to remediate and review concepts from your child’s class.
Let’s say instead you determine that your child needs more holistic support from an educational therapist or academic coach. Anyone you’re considering hiring should be able to show you the starting points on the roadmap they will follow to help your child meet their goals.
At School Without Suffering, we do this for every prospective client during a complimentary 30-minute Student Success Roadmapping Session.
To create each child’s custom Roadmap, we ask their parents/caregivers questions to understand the child’s experience in school and learn what their concerns and goals are for the child.
We analyze their academic history and then lay out the first specific steps the child needs to take to succeed in school, given their unique learning needs. Then we answer questions about exactly how we would support the student to take these steps should the parents/caregivers choose to enroll them in The Student Membership.
Knowing the plan, parents/caregivers can confidently decide whether we are the right team to support their child and feel assured that whatever choice they make is the right one.
If you’d like us to outline a plan for your child, click here to schedule your complimentary Student Success Roadmapping Session.
Founder & Principal Academic Coach
Laura Fragomeni, Ed.M
Laura Fragomeni is a Harvard-educated master academic coach and the founder of School Without Suffering, an academic coaching practice specializing in helping struggling students around the world be happy and successful.