Getting the Most Out of Tutoring
By: Anne Hoover
There are more tutors than ever before and parents are left with many choices that are often difficult to evaluate. One of the keys to making a good decision for your student is to determine exactly what you expect the tutor to accomplish. There are many different kinds of tutoring: helping a child progress to the current grade level in a subject, supporting current homework, teaching strategies for studying and organizing, assisting the student in using technology efficiently, and tutoring specific subject matter. The tutor's background and experience should match the need. Personal recommendations are also important and the list that follows suggests additional things to consider:
It is essential that a student with learning disabilities work with a tutor who has been trained to use the appropriate multisensory techniques. Be sure to ask about training, experience, and references.
There must be a good rapport between the tutor and student. Give the relationship a chance to develop (about 8 lessons) but if it doesn't, look for another tutor.
The best time of day for tutoring is when the student is fresh and ready to learn. Tutoring is an intense learning experience and you want to take every advantage of it. Many younger students are at their best before school and many schools will facilitate tutoring during the school day.
Set the goals of tutoring with the tutor. Be sure you are both clear about whether you are focusing on remedial work, content subjects, or study skills. Resist the temptation to try to accomplish too much.
Schedule a minimum of two lessons a week. Students with learning disabilities need practice and repetition to master their lessons and it takes time to see improvement.
It is better to have more frequent lessons over a short period of time than to spread the same number of lessons over a longer period because the student will make slow progress and become more discouraged.
If you do not know a skilled tutor, an organization dedicated to working with the learning disabled will be able to find a tutor with the right background and will have the resources necessary to support the tutor's work.
Arrange to talk with the tutor periodically to monitor progress, when the child is not present.
Ask the student's teacher to talk with the tutor. Teachers feel reassured to know that someone is helping a student and they are working toward common goals.
Tell your child why she/he is receiving tutoring and what you hope to accomplish so that she/he will feel hopeful rather than inadequate.
Director of Tutoring Services, Kingsbury
5000 14th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20011
Kingsbury is a nonprofit educational organization that provides comprehensive services to support children and adults with learning disabilities through its Tutoring Services, Assessment Services and Kingsbury Day School.
Anne Hoover (2009)