This is a sponsored guest post from Chuck Cohn, the founder of Varsity Tutors. He makes a point about how smart kids and homeschooled kids can benefit from the right tutor, especially for test prep and for subjects a parent may not be an expert on.
Families often rely on the schools, the teachers, and the academic counselors – both within their high school and hired privately – to help them select courses, clubs, sports, and summer activities that maximize their chances at admission into a competitive college. But even with the best help from the school professionals, students often encounter difficulties in classes that result in lower grades that can impact how they fare in the college admissions process.
One of the best options available to parents and students, even gifted students, is to enlist the support of a tutor, to fill in the gaps and assure that the student is prepared and educated to reach maximum potential instead of being trapped in mediocrity. Fortunately, tutors – especially academic ones like math tutors – are more available and more affordable than ever before.
Which students can benefit from a tutor?
- Students who lack some essential academic foundation: Maybe they had a poor teacher in a prior prep course, or changed schools, or simply didn’t pay attention. For whatever reason, they are missing some of the essential knowledge or skills to be successful with the subject matter in class. A tutor can identify the gaps and help the student address their specific needs.
- Gifted or talented students who want and need more: Teachers in large classrooms are forced to teach to the average student. Gifted students who learn faster than the average student often stagnate academically because they aren’t challenged. They lose interest and their minds can wander. A tutor can see where the students are on the spectrum and develop a personalized program to challenge them, encourage their academic development, and stimulate their interest and enthusiasm for learning.
- Students doing test prep or applying to colleges: Test preparation and test taking skills are quickly becoming critical to students. Even the best schools in America can fail to equip students properly for the subject matter and with the thinking processes that must be addressed in college entrance exams like the SAT and ACT. Tutors can provide students with an arsenal to be used on standardized assessments.
- Identify Your Needs – Know What You Want
Carefully identify the subject or the topic of help needed. Does your student want help with reading and comprehension? Mathematical problem solving? SAT or ACT problems? Be specific and establish firm and reachable goals. Before committing to a tutor, be sure that you have a clear understanding of fees, the schedule of activities, and cancellation policies.
- Assess the Tutor’s Communication Skills
Can your child and the tutor communicate effectively? Watch how they interact. Are difficult concepts discussed in an easy to understand manner? Does the tutor “connect” with your student? Good tutors should be able to clearly tell you and the student how the sessions will be organized and conducted.
- Assess the Tutor’s Technical Skills
Great tutors will have recently been knee-deep in the content you will be covering. A tutor who recently took calculus and is still actively doing mathematics will be much more valuable than another who received an “A” in the course 10 years ago back in college. Determine if the tutor will tailor the tutoring sessions to meet the child’s learning style. Ask: Have they worked with children the same age? Are they familiar with the textbooks and other materials your child is using in school?
- Assess Personality and Teaching Style
Is the tutor someone that your student will enjoy working with? Are their personalities and communication styles compatible? Monitorthe tone of the sessions, and make sure that the learning environment remains effective, amicable, and fruitful.
- Run a Background Check and Check Qualifications
Review the tutors’ credentials carefully. Verify experience, test scores and transcripts and references. If appropriate, run a criminal and sex offender background check.
- Monitor and Assess Results
Improving academic achievement requires hard work and patience. Good tutors will make the best use of time to learn the student’s strengths and weaknesses, how they learn, and what they respond to. Then they will quickly develop an individualized learning plan. Tutoring sessions may be conducted once a class, once a week, or on an as needed basis. Once the tutoring begins, request periodic reports from both the tutor and your child’s teacher. Ask your student, “how’s it going?” and pay close attention to what they say. They should express enthusiasm. You should also find a noticeable academic improvement within a few months.
Finding a great tutor will motivate your student and improve his or her grades and test scores - the results can be amazing!
For more information visit http://www.varsitytutors.com/tutoring-houston.
About the author, Chuck Cohn
Chuck Cohn graduated from Washington University in St. Louis. He is the founder and CEO of Varsity Tutors. Started in 2007, by Chuck and two college friends, the tutoring service has grown into a nation-wide network of over 900 tutors. They offer tutoring in a wide variety of courses in Math, Science, English, Test Preparation, numerous Foreign Languages, and Social Studies. Varsity Tutors has offices 14 cities in the United States and has helped thousands of families.