Tutoring or Training?
It’s finally summer and many parents are looking for summer tutoring options to help their child catch-up if they are behind in any areas or maintain skills over the summer. This past year has been especially difficult given the emergence of distance learning and hybrid learning models.
But is tutoring your best option? The goal of school is to enable students to learn the critical information they need to grow into successful and independent adults. In the above graphic, the goal of teaching is to fill up the “Knowledge Bank”. When a child struggles in this area, the usual approach is more academic content or tutoring. For example, if a child struggles with match concepts or math facts, it is common to hire a tutor to drill multiplication tables or help a child work through word problems. If a child struggles with reading or reading comprehension, the typical strategy is to do more reading over the summer either at home or with a reading tutor.
Tutoring can help, but if a child has any cognitive weaknesses, the root cause of the student’s struggles are not being addressed and the issues usually come back quickly.
For example, for the child who struggles with math facts, lots of drilling and repetition can help a child memorize them. However, significant struggles in this area are usually the result of weaknesses in cognitive skills like long-term memory, working memory or visual processing (some of the skills on the left side of the diagram). Tutoring is not identifying or addressing the root cause of this struggle, just treating the symptom. The following year this weakness would likely show up again as struggles remembering information for tests or reading comprehension issues.
For students who struggle to read, the typical root cause is a combination of weaknesses in auditory processing, visual processing and/or long-term memory. Cognitive skills training identifies the root cause of reading struggles and strengthens these weaknesses to unlock reading. In fact, LearningRx training increases reading achievement by 3.5 years on average! With typical reading tutoring programs, students are simply treading water and then usually need tutoring the following summer as expectations increase year-to -year.
On top of that, tutoring does nothing to improve areas like sustained or selective attention/focus.
If you are thinking of looking for a tutor for your child this summer, consider whether cognitive skills training is the better answer. Doesn’t it make sense to address the root cause of a learning struggle vs. treating the symptom over and over again?