Are your kids not wild about going to school? Do they make excuses to skip it everyday? Do they have mysterious conflicts with their teachers, and have trouble getting into and finishing homework? Are their grades erratic and starting to lag behind? Have they stopped being excited about school and don’t talk about it?
If your child is showing any of this behavior, it might be time to get proactive. We all know that students have different learning styles and the traditional classroom of 20 or so students isn’t the best way to learn for everyone. Often there are other, deeper causes. We at TPT are dedicated to devising customized study plans for each student, so no one falls behind. The good news is that as you make your way through this article, you’ll find out that you don’t have to watch your child be unhappy in school. Get involved and give us a call, and we’ll help your kids realize their academic potential.
You are key to this process
As you probably know, bad grades are usually the end-point of a string of causes. Fortunately, many of the underlying symptoms can be identified and remedied. Often, you—the omniscient, omnipotent super mom or dad—can help your children with school. You’d be surprised how easy it is to re-learn some of the stuff that was impenetrable to you back in high school.
Bad grades are usually a perfect storm of multiple factors, some of which we will discuss in just a second, but let’s start by highlighting one main contributor to low grades that is crucial to appreciate. Unfortunately, it’s not something you can directly influence.
1. Class size
Quite simply, in a class of 20, 30(!) or even 40(!!!) children, your child may just not be getting the one-on-one attention he or she needs, and most definitely deserves! The bulk approach sometimes only gets 90% of the information across, and eventually that 10% deficit adds up. This usually leads to frustration, and students can eventually end up blaming themselves for not understanding the material that everyone else seems to be getting (in reality, many students find themselves struggling to absorb all the material, but asking questions isn’t always encouraged). Sometimes this can be rectified by tinkering with class seating arrangements: studies have shown that the kids that occupy the front row in class usually have better grades. Whether this a causal relationship, though, is a topic of hot debate.
But worry not! This ever-widening chasm in your child’s academics can be very rapidly narrowed! Sometimes, it’s a good idea to turn the reins over to a professional – in this case your child’s tutor – to take on the task of making your child do the little things that will help him get an ‘A’! That could totally be one stressful task off your shoulders! But, we are sure you have questions before you make this commitment on your child’s behalf. We’re sure you’ve heard how other students in your child’s class have tutors for this or that subject, and you may have wondered why your kid would need a tutor if he’s going to school. Let us consider this academic-career changing question in much more detail. Here are some signals you should look out for:
2. The homework mysteries
Are homework and projects rarely completed on time? Even if they are completed on time, are they below par? Does completed homework mysteriously disappear before it even makes it to the teacher’s desk? It sounds like your child may need to get organized. Here are some easily adopted study habits.
3. ‘Scary’ subjects
Have you heard your child say something like “Math just isn’t my thing”? And has this started to happen more often, for more subjects? Children, especially in their teen years, are forming their identities, and everything that they believe (especially about themselves!) they set in stone. We need to work within this belief and make your child feel otherwise, fast! (see: ‘Conceptual difficulties’)
4. Teacher problems
Sometimes your kid might think a teacher just has it out for him. But really, sometimes students just haven’t figured out what the teacher’s requirements actually are, and are just losing points unnecessarily. Some teachers can be sticklers for detail—lots of students lose more marks on careless errors, which are avoidable. If the problem is only with a particular teacher you can help your child by showing him how the teacher ‘works‘! Show your child how he can get a few crucial extra points here and there, what is working, what is not. As a last resort: it is sometimes beneficial to preempt any future misunderstandings by having a chat with the teacher in question, and ensuring that he or she understands the particular requirements of your child. You might also ask how the teacher thinks your child could do better in the class. Many teachers will even offer extra help after class; definitely take them up on it!
5. Conceptual difficulties
Is your child still struggling with the basics in some classes, while his friends and peers are now specializing in subjects, or comfortable with advanced classes? Oftentimes this happens because your child never completely understood the basics, and of course a shaky foundation is going to make it that much harder to learn all the new stuff that gets piled on. This is usually how students start disliking a particular subject. They internalize smaller failures and become convinced that they can never get good at a subject (see: ‘Scary Subjects’). Fortunately, some basics (like exponents, geometry, or grammar) are the easiest to learn or relearn. You might also try brushing the cobwebs off your high school chops and seeing if you can help your child yourself. Flash cards are a proven technique for memorizing lots of little stuff effectively, so try those.
This is hard on kids and their parents. A lot of the time, your advice just won’t be welcome and it’ll be treated like interference. But frustration with schoolwork can cause all sorts of defensiveness, and as a parent, your responsibility is to intervene. Instead of fighting over homework over dinner, get your kid a tutor. School shouldn’t get in the way of your relationship with your child. A tutor can provide just the right amount of accountability, and provides a low-stress relationship. More on this in just a sec.
Identification leads to resolution
As you learn to identify the things that lead to bad grades, and the bad grades themselves, it becomes much easier to help your child. If you choose to help your child personally, take the time to take advantage of the multitude of resources available on the internet (one of our favorites is Khan Academy). It’s never been easier to help your child with his or her schoolwork, and in the process, you’ll relieve some of the school-related tension that might be pervading your home. Another great way to develop the academic facet of your parent-child relationship is to teach them about stuff they’re not likely to learn in school. Incorporate learning into your everyday routine and helping your kid with school will come much more naturally for both of you.
How a tutor can help you
If you answered yes to at least three of the six questions above, then your child will probably really benefit from some one-on-one time with a tutor. Even just one hour could make all the difference! Even if a tutor is only someone your child can unload all his academic concerns on, it can be very beneficial. A tutor is someone who knows exactly what a struggling student is going through, someone who has successfully helped many other students in the same situation. Tutors aren’t the same kind of authority figure that a parent or a class teacher is, and this makes the relationship much easier on the student. A good tutor knows how to harness this relationship and will take the time to craft a respectful and trusting bond with his student, and then bring the student’s efforts and creativity together to help him or her learn. You want to look for a mentor who can channel your child’s energies to realize his potential.
There are, of course, other, more straightforward, reasons you might be interested in hiring a tutor—you needn’t wait for the sky to start falling before you enlist outside help. You may want the best for your child, and you want to see him do really well. Often, parents have trouble keeping up with the crazy physics they’re teaching kids in school now, and standardized tests have changed a lot over time. And sometimes, the time to relearn everything your kid is learning in school just doesn’t exist. Helping your kids with school is a luxury and it doesn’t come easily for everyone. But you can still help by finding a tutor who understands your child’s strengths and weaknesses, and his learning style, so your child is comfortable learning. A good tutor will give every student 110% every time and will be invested in your child’s future.
We’re sure you have more questions, and we’d love to help you and your child anyway we can. To see how your child can get the best grades and eventually get into the best colleges, give us a call and get the first one-on-one tutoring session totally free.