A recommendation that your child might profit from working with a tutor often comes from a teacher or a school’s learning specialist or guidance counselor. As a parent, however, you have the deepest insight into your child’s needs and may see the need for tutoring before the school does.
Does My Child Need a Tutor?Children with learning disabilities (LD) or Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD) almost always need extra assistance in school. A tutor can be a valuable source of help. Ask yourself:
- Is there a particular subject or type of assignment that almost always gives my child trouble?
- Does my child have difficulty studying effectively for tests?
- Does my child have trouble with “executive skills” such as organizing, planning, or seeing a project through to completion?
- Is my child unhappy or anxious about schoolwork?
- Is completing homework a recurring battle in my family?
- Has my child’s teacher (or guidance counselor or learning specialist) suggested tutoring?
If the answer to one or more of these questions is yes, investigate the possibility of getting your child a tutor.
What Kind of Learning Support Does My Child Need?
Tutors may or may not have special experience working with children with learning disabilities. For that, you will probably need to employ a learning specialist or educational therapist. These professionals address specific learning disabilities with specialized teaching techniques. Some — but not all — specialists may work within the context of a particular school subject.
Whether or not you turn to a specialist, however, a tutor can be helpful with specific subject matter, particular assignments, and underlying skills such as time management and organization.
What Kind of Tutoring Would Be Best?
There are various kinds of tutoring to choose from. You’ll want to think about cost, convenience, and the learning approaches most likely to be effective with your child. Consider your options:
Private tutoring. This is the most common type of tutoring and, perhaps, the most desirable — especially for a child with learning disabilities. A tutor, chosen by you with the assistance of teachers and other experts who know how your child learns best, works with your child one or more times a week. Most tutors are college students or teachers working part-time to help students in particular subjects or with study skills and executive functions. The tutor considers your child’s needs and the school’s and teacher’s expectations. The tutor may come to your home or school, or may prefer that you bring your child to another location.
Tutoring centers. These are companies that employ tutors with various kinds of experience. Some centers use standardized materials and methods. They may offer diagnostic testing to help them develop a learning strategy for your child. Your child will be placed with a tutor for sessions one or more times a week, usually after school or in the evening. Some tutoring centers offer group tutoring, which can be less expensive than individual tutoring. However, you’ll need to decide whether your child will work better in a group or one-on-one.
Online tutoring. If you are unable to find a tutor near home, or if your schedule makes attending regular sessions difficult, check out companies that offer one-on-one tutoring online. Online tutoring allows your child to work with a teacher in real time over the internet. Communication between student and online tutor is usually done using headsets. The child’s hands are free to type or to write on an electronic pad. Some online programs offer video conferencing, so child and tutor interact face to face. Most programs offered by online tutors are in math and reading. Within those programs, your child can develop more specific skills, such as geometry or writing. But for tutoring to help your child with ninth-grade social studies, you’ll probably want to stick with private or school-based tutoring.
Tutoring software. Lots of tutoring software, such as worksheets and educational games, is free. Some programs and online tutorials may charge a subscriber or licensing fee. They do not, of course, offer supervision. You’ll need to monitor your child’s computer use and ask your child for a certain amount of commitment and discipline. For children who love computers, this can be an attractive option, particularly in combination with private tutoring.