Getting Academic Help

Why is it that so many of us are afraid or reluctant to ask for help? Oh we talk a good game about understanding that no one is perfect, but when it comes to actually seeking outside help, especially for our children’s academics, many are resistant. Whether it’s unnecessary embarrassment or a statement about the ultra-competitive nature of education and schools, it doesn’t matter. If you child needs help academically, you need to get him or her help. A good tutor can be a gift!

frustrated girl doing homework

Realizing that your child needs a tutor -- and/or that your kitchen table homework help isn't cutting it -- can be difficult to acknowledge. We like to think of our children as perfect geniuses (oh, yes, you do!), but they aren't. Sometimes they need help to deal with an academic issue. Sometimes your child needs a tutor.

It may be obvious

It may be obvious with a single report card or evaluation that your child needs a tutor. Low grades or specific comments from teaching staff often are the first clue that something is going on academically. If your child doesn't seem to be grasping information that he or she needs to build on going forward, a tutor may well be in order.

It may not be obvious

Even if your child is doing "fine" in a subject, a tutor still may be helpful or necessary. If your child is spending a comparatively large amount of time on a single subject just to make it to "fine," a tutor may help your child manage that work more effectively and with greater understanding. If there is frustration, tears, moodiness and drama around a subject, a tutor may help validate what your child does know and calm them -- or help with learning strategies for that subject.

More than academics

What a tutor can bring to the studying table is more than academic help. It's reassurance, confidence building, studying strategies, different learning techniques -- as well as (hopefully) improved academic performance. A really good tutor is part instructor, part cheerleader, and sometimes a confidante. A good tutor can become a critical part of your child's academic support team.

The parent-child dynamic

Even if you are a math whiz, or have a Ph.D. in world history, you may not be the right person to help your child academically. You may have terrific relationship with your child and be able to help him or her with so many other things, but when it comes to trying to tutor your child on specific topics -- well, it could set the stage for some difficult conflicts. You may know your child too well to be able to tutor them effectively, and your child may so want to please you that he or she gets more and more frustrated with the process. A tutor outside this dynamic can bring a fresh set of eyes to the situation, a fresh set of skills -- and help you and your child preserve your relationship.

Identifying the tutor

After you have determined that your child needs a tutor, you may wonder how to find one! The first place to go is your child's school. Ask his or her teacher or the administration and/or guidance office if there is a list of available tutors for various subjects. Sometimes adults are available and sometimes older students. Costs will vary -- though many schools can help you find someone in your budget or help in other ways if the tutoring need is clear and you need help affording it. You can also ask neighbors about tutoring. More have used tutoring than you may realize! And if the academic issue seems to be related to a development issue, you can include your child's pediatrician in the conversation.

Everyone needs help now and again. Getting your child academic help in the form of a tutor is nothing to be ashamed of. It's a gift, really, to all of you! You can help your child succeed and build confidence while preserving your own relationship with your child.

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