How Do I Know if My Child Needs a Tutor?

By Joanne Sallay

Posted in Featured, Local, Tips & Advice

How Do I Know if My Child Needs a Tutor?

One of the most common questions we receive at Teachers on Call is, “How do I know if my child needs a tutor?”. This is a timeless inquiry we have heard from parents since our tutoring start in 1984, as setting students up for academic success is a universal goal for families spanning all geographies. If you’re currently feeling unsure and are considering in-person or online tutoring support for your child, we’ve got you covered. To help your family with this choice, Teachers on Call's President, Joanne Sallay, has prepared these signs to look for that suggest tutoring may be a good investment. 

        Is your child currently struggling to complete their homework? Perhaps you are concerned about pandemic learning loss. On the flip side, you may feel your child could use additional enrichment outside of the classroom. Regardless of the reason, if you are sitting on the fence about hiring a tutor for your child, this blog is for you. Even when families understand the advantages and benefits of tutoring, it’s not always clear to them whether in-person or online tutoring support is needed for their own child and whether paying for professional tutoring makes sense. Tutoring is a big decision as it represents an investment in both money and time. From our vast experiences tutoring students across Canada from kindergarten to grade 12 in subjects such as math, science, English and French, these are 15 indicators that tutoring may be helpful for your child. 

        1)  Homework is a Constant Struggle

        If your child is having great difficulty attempting or completing homework on a frequent basis, this is a sign that additional support may be needed. This is common in subjects like math, where both elementary and secondary students are unable to finish all their assigned work independently.

        2)   Increased Subject Difficulty Stops Family Members from Helping

        Feedback we often hear from parents as grades progress and curriculum advances in difficulty is that they are no longer able to help. We see this often with students attending French Immersion programs where math is instructed in French, and parents are unable to help with schoolwork due to the language barrier. This is also quite common at the high-school level with science courses such as biology, chemistry and physics.

        3)   My Child Requires Enrichment or a More Competitive Mark

        While traditionally tutoring was considered only a remedial strategy, many families are turning to tutoring to support enrichment and advancement when their child is identified as gifted, displays strong talent in a subject or not feeling fully challenged at school. This additional tutoring support can enhance what a young child is studying at school and help instill positive feelings about learning. Teachers on Call also receives many high-school tutoring requests for high-achievers looking for support with the most challenging questions in an effort to receive a higher mark required for entrance to a specific university or post-secondary program. 

        4)   Report Cards Reflect Areas for Improvement

        Report cards are great indicators if additional help is needed. This is especially true if your child is performing below grade level, or receiving marks that do not reflect their true academic potential. You do not have to wait until the final report card at the end of the school year, as progress report cards are very helpful at painting an academic picture while there is still time to address learning issues. Remember to also look at previous year results, as the provincial curriculum only builds on past grades.

        5)   Tutoring is Recommended by the Teacher or another Trusted Professional

        Your child’s classroom or subject specific teacher may be recommending additional support outside of school. This is often suggested at parent-teacher conferences after report cards arrive home. Additional support with reading, writing and numeracy skills is often recommended for primary and elementary age students, especially since the pandemic with many students performing well below grade level. Alternatively, a child psychologist or other trusted professional may be recommending tutoring to assist your child. When a trusted professional who works with your child makes this referral, this is a good reason to consider professional in-person or online tutoring services.

        6)  My Child has Been Identified with a Learning Disability

        Extra support is commonly recommended for students who have completed a psychoeducational assessment and are identified with a learning disability. Special education strategies can be very helpful for students who are on Individual Education Plans (IEP) at school and require additional time to complete work. Diverse learners often benefit from personalized 1-on-1 tutoring support in a trusted environment.

        7)   My Child has Poor Executive Functioning Skills

        Tutoring is not only helpful to improve academic performance and knowledge of the provincial curriculum, but also in supporting planning, time management, organization and study skills. Parents often first notice students struggling in this area when they transition to grade 9 in high-school.  Academic coaching will help ensure your child stays on track to meet deadlines and hand in projects on time, similar to personal training at a gym to achieve fitness goals. Read about this student success story here.

        8)   Unhappiness with Subjects or School Experience

        You may notice that your child is expressing discontent with school, a particular subject or skill such as writing, or potentially even lack of challenge. Whatever the reason for their academic frustration, you may want to explore the root of their unease to best rectify the situation and instill a lifelong love of learning.

        9)   Anxiety and Academic Stress is Noticed

        If your child is feeling overly anxious around school, test or exam time, this may be a sign they could use some additional help. When a student is feeling academic stress, this often impacts the entire family as no one likes seeing their child suffer. One Teachers on Call client once told us that even their dog was stressed by the situation. Yes, this is a true story!

        10)  Family Relationships are Impacted

        It can be incredibly challenging to teach your own child with ample emotion involved. We hear this from families all the time, even when the parents are certified teachers themselves. If you find disagreements and arguments are taking place during reading or homework time, you may want to consider hiring a tutor. We are often told that professional in-person and online tutoring has drastically improved family dynamics and enhanced relationships.

        11)  Negative Comments are Shared with Family and Teachers

        Sometimes when students are feeling frustrated academically, they may share negative comments with trusted adults. Parents often tell the Teachers on Call tutoring team that their child complains about not feeling smart in subjects like math, or alternatively when they find school too easy without stimulation. In-person or online tutoring can be utilized as both remedial and enrichment strategies for students.

        12)  My Child is not Participating in the Classroom

        Sometimes students avoid asking for help in school when they do not understand the material. Sometimes they lack self-confidence in group settings or are just a bit shy. We often hear from parents that their child is self-conscious at school and afraid of providing the wrong answer in front of peers. A tutor can help explain and clarify concepts on a one-to-one basis in a comfortable environment. From our professional experience, students will participate more in class as they feel more confident of their skills and abilities. 

        13)  A Self-Confidence Boost is Needed

        Parents often tell their tutors that they feel their child is lacking confidence in school and would benefit from a caring and patient approach. When students start seeing academic progress and improved grades, they often experience a boost to their self-esteem.

        14)  A Positive Learning Role Model would Help

        Whether your child is feeling shy to ask for help at school, or lacking self-confidence in a particular subject, tutoring can be a helpful tool. We are often told by parents that our tutors act as caring role models to help boost self-esteem and provide positive learning associations for students.

        15)  My Child is Asking for a Tutor

        If your child is asking for additional support, this is a clear indicator that tutoring will be a helpful strategy. From our professional tutoring experience, when students are on board and want the additional support, this is when the most successful tutoring takes place!
        We hope you find our observations helpful as you consider tutoring support for your child. Should you want to explore further, the Teachers on Call team is here to help!

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