When considering tutoring for a child who is struggling in school, families have several options:
- Private Tutors are instructors who work with students one-on-one or in small groups, teaching specific academic content (math, reading, writing, etc.).
- Academic Coaches work with students on time management, study skills, note taking, and other skills that can apply to a variety of classes.
- Student Tutors are students in the same class or a higher grade who are willing to help students with specific academic content with which they are struggling.
- Online Tutoring focuses on academic content, using tools like chat, shared screens, and teleconferencing to connect students with tutors who do not live close by.
- Home Tutoring takes place at home, rather than at school or in a tutoring center. Again, this type of tutoring typically focuses on academic content.
Why is a child struggling in the first place?
Tutoring can be an effective intervention, depending on what is causing the struggle in the first place. For example, if a child is struggling in school because something interrupted the delivery of academic content the first time around—or when content was missed altogether—tutoring is an ideal solution.
Here are examples of situations in which tutoring is very effective:
- A teacher’s maternity leave is covered by a string of substitute teachers, and the consistent delivery of classroom content suffers as a result.
- A child relocates and attends a new school and finds himself having to “catch up” by learning material that was missed in the transition.
- A child misses school due to illness or a family emergency
In each of these situations, redelivering information that was delivered poorly or missed altogether makes sense. Hiring a tutor for several sessions (or several weeks or months) to help your child catch up may very well be the right move.
Sometimes, however, children struggle in school because they are having a hard time grasping, remembering, or processing the things they are learning, no matter how many times that information is delivered by teachers, tutors, or parents. In fact, studies show that 85% of reading struggles, as well as the majority of learning struggles, are related to weaknesses in the cognitive skills the brain uses to process information, rather than the way the information is being presented.
The brain uses a set of foundational cognitive skills to think, learn, read, remember, solve problems, and pay attention. These cognitive skills include: attention, short-term memory, long-term memory, logic & reasoning, auditory processing, visual processing, and processing speed.
If one or more weak cognitive skills are at the root of a child’s struggle, cognitive training (also known as brain training) can identify the specific weak skill, then target and strengthen that skill with intense mental exercise.
How to determine if tutoring or cognitive training will be most effective
Would your child benefit from a tutor or brain trainer? Read both sets of statements and write down the number next to any statement that applies:
- Is struggling as a result of missing classes due to illness or vacation
- Is struggling as a result of moving to a new school, or relocating frequently
- Is struggling in a single class due to poor presentation of information (inexperienced or absent teacher, missing class materials, etc.)
- Is struggling due to any other identifiable and probable external cause
- Shows a special gifting or passion, and you want someone knowledgeable in that subject to tutor that child at an advanced level
- Catches on right away if a concept needs to be explained a second time
- Does not have chronic struggles with learning
- Has received tutoring in subjects for which he/she still struggles
- Is struggling in more than one class
- Has always disliked or struggled with reading
- Takes a long time doing homework
- Has chronically struggled in school with tests
- Has to work harder or longer than other kids to achieve good grades
- Says he or she feels stupid, can’t succeed, or isn’t as smart as other kids
Hire a Tutor:
If all of your numbers are between 1 and 7, with no numbers greater than 7, tutoring may be the best solution for your child.
Hire a Brain Trainer:
If any of your numbers are between 8 and 14, regardless of how many numbers are less than 7, cognitive training may be the best solution for your child.
If your child is struggling in school, find out why. Schedule to take a Cognitive Skills Assessment at a LearningRx Brain Training Center near you. This test will give you a detailed analysis of the performance of each of your child’s cognitive skills.
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