Does your child struggle at school?
Do they need an academic challenge?
Are they leaving assignments until the last minute?
Deciding if your child needs a tutor can be a tricky task. Each student is different when it comes to education. There are some primary and high school students out there who would benefit greatly from general or specific academic aid, and still others who need emotional and/or study skills support.
As a parent or caregiver, it can often fall to you to decide on a tutor and discuss the possibility of coaching with your child.
But how on earth do you figure out if or why they might need a tutor in the first place? To help you out, here are 5 common signs your child might require help.
Sign 1: “It’s too hard”
Your child or teenager’s half yearly and end-of-year report is littered with ‘sound’ and ‘basic’, despite an ‘always’ or ‘usually’ for effort.
You’ve met with the teacher. They’ve attempted day-in and day-out to help your child, however in a classroom upwards of twenty-five students (sometimes almost eighty), your child just simply cannot receive that one-on-one time they need to succeed.
It seems that no matter how many times you, other members of the family, or they themselves try to help, buy ‘Excel’ study notes from the newsagent or set aside time to work at it…
They just can’t get it.
Every child, student and parent at some point will struggle in education. Whether it’s understanding how on earth division works in primary school, figuring out what an essay should look like let alone what it should include in high school or university, or explaining something you yourself learned in Year 11 over two decades ago to a Year 7 student; it can be hard.
People in these positions can begin to feel helpless or worthless. Many students can take their ‘inability’ personally when even Google can’t fix the issue.
It can also be damaging to your self-esteem as a parent when your child comes to you for help like so many times before… and then proceeds to dump Shakespeare’s collected works on you.
Or worse, some foreign jumble of squiggles, letters and symbols they pass off as ‘linear equations’ (my mother got the shock of a lifetime with that one).
Sometimes it takes a fresh perspective, a new face, or someone both you and your child perceive as a professional to provide that one-on-one expertise to get the job done.
Think of a tutor as a driving instructor. While you may own and operate a vehicle on a daily basis, an instructor’s job is to specifically know, understand and teach road regulations and driving mechanics to adolescents and older. Whose advice and driving strategies are your child more likely to use to improve?
Sign 2: “It’s all too easy”
While many parents believe a tutor may be needed only when education becomes a problem, one can also be beneficial to your child should they need a challenge or further development.
Tutoring, mentoring and coaching should never be limited to support roles. Each child is different, and along with that comes their weaknesses as well as their strengths.
Primary and high schools in Australia are constantly catering for GATS (Gifted And Talented) or high achieving students; however, as you might look around for a qualified singing teacher should your child show talent, the same idea applies for educational and academic abilities.
Tutors cater for a wide range of learning levels and a variety of situations. While coaching a seven-year-old, they are often preparing an HSC student for their half-yearly exams. When your child exclaims ‘it’s all too easy’, they’re at the top of their class in one or more areas, and they wish to progress their personal skills further, it may be time for a tutor.
Sign 3: “I’m bored” or “I can’t do it”
This sign can be a little tricky, and it’s mainly to do with what your child means when they tell you they ‘can’t do it’.
If you believe they mean their homework, assignments or school-based tasks are too challenging for them personally, then it is most likely an academic issue and they may require help in that manner (see Sign 1).
On the other hand, if you believe they mean it in the sense they are ‘giving up’ or overwhelmed emotionally with their workload, it could also be a motivational or self-esteem problem.
Tutoring and coaching aren’t limited to moving students through educational subjects and content. Each coach, having survived the hardships and mentally draining realities of, let’s call it, ‘life’, bring experience to the table; someone your child can talk to in a relaxed and professional manner.
Sometimes, all it takes is a person to sit down and discuss healthy study habits or teach them a skill or two to stay motivated to help them on their way.
In other serious cases, this sign may be an indicator of mental deterioration or unhealthy levels of stress affecting your child.
Are they freaking out about test exams or homework too often? Is the social side of schooling affecting their physical health and communication with you and the family? You may want to consider organising tutoring and coaching in combination with counselling.
Sign 4: “I’ll do it later”
Have you ever woken up early in the morning to get ready for work or come home late from a night shift, only to find your child or teenager still sitting at their computer, guzzling energy drinks and furiously typing out that essay they’ve had a whole term to write?
Do they constantly complain about how they have ‘no time’ during the week to finish homework or projects because of after-school care, football, code club or dancing?
Does your child ‘put off’ certain tasks, activities and household chores until the last minute? (I’ll admit to being guilty of this one).
Everyone at some point in their lives deals with procrastination, and anyone can suffer from it, especially high school students. This phenomenon in school age students (and even university students) is not new.
However, there is a fine line between healthy and horrifying levels of it. If your child fits one of the situations above to a T, they have concentration and time management issues.
They need help immediately. Do not let them fall into the procrastination trap in their last few years of high school.
The majority of tutors and coaches are specifically trained in discussing time management skills with students.
In fact, next to issues with academic content, it is the second most common problem children young and old face in education.
While primary teachers attempt to instill such management skills during class time, in high school, students are usually expected to have developed some kind of ability in it, often without any explicit training.
Your child might need a few sessions to combat their procrastination habits, or regular lessons to keep them focused and ‘on the ball’. If they still find concentration is an issue, you may need to see your GP or contact other expert advice.
Sign 5: “I want one”
Has your child ever mentioned in passing that they think they might need a tutor?
Have they complained about ‘Sarah’ or ‘Jimmy’ getting one when they believe they could use one more?
Are they about to go through Year 11 or their HSC and are freaking out the entire household?
Probably the easiest sign to notice, is when they ask for a tutor. While for some children or teenagers admitting the need for help can seem like a sign of weakness or ‘defeat’, others have no problem discussing the possibility.
Others still have no issues screeching dramatically to the sky in high hopes Mary Poppins falls from the clouds to help them with an equation (I know I did that for my HSC).
It can never hurt to try out a tutor for a couple of lessons to see how your child handles it. If this is the case, make sure you sit down and discuss the possibility with all parties involved.
Your child should be sure they want or need a tutor for themselves, not specifically out of jealousy.
Tutoring is a Two-Way Street
Please PLEASE remember that hiring a tutor is not the only option and by no means a ‘quick fix’. Your child will still need to put the effort in!
How to Apply for an Art Of Smart Coach
Read the signs and want a Mary Poppins of your own? Willing to settle and book a tutor instead? Apply at Art Of Smart Education today!
Have a question for us?
We’ve helped over 2,500 students achieve an average mark increase of 19.41%! Flick us a message on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/artofsmart/), give us a call on 1300 267 888, or email us on [email protected].
Erin Borg is an Art of Smart coach with over 5 years’ experience tutoring young children, adult learners and everyone in between. She has written programs and resources for both Art of Smart Education and MyEd, including Student Needs Assessments and Flying Start.
Now a former student, Erin graduated from the University of Newcastle in 2016 with a double bachelor in Education and Arts. Receiving the faculty medal for her First Class Honours work in parent-teacher communication, her passion for excellence and guiding others has lead her down the exhilarating, yet terrifying, road of a qualified primary school teacher.
At night when not tinkering with potato cannons or being mauled by eleven family dogs, she is a ninth-level Elven wizard battling the forces of evil in Sydney CBD.