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You’ve made the decision to find help for your son or daughter with Math. You thought that was the hard part, but now you’re faced with a new set of questions. Who is qualified to help? Where and when will the tutoring take place? What does my child really need help with? Here are some things to consider as you wade through the process of finding the right solution.
1. SOLVE THE BIGGEST PAIN POINT FIRST.
Most of the time, parents seek help for their child because they are struggling with homework. Although your intention is good, sometimes trying to help your child with homework only makes matters worse. You may be using methods that are no longer being taught. Your child’s curriculum may have jumped beyond what you can remember from your own schooling, or you just have different learning styles and you’re not able to connect.
If your child needs homework help, make sure you find a tutor or center that provides homework help. While it may seem obvious, some tutoring centers do not provide that kind of support.
If your child is advanced at Math and needs more instruction, find a tutor or program that can create a customized plan that will methodically carry them through higher level concepts.
2. FIND THE ROOT CAUSE
Anger, frustration or even tears at homework time is simply a symptom that your child is struggling with Math. It makes sense to provide support specifically around the curriculum so your child can finish the homework and pass the test.
This approach can temporarily relieve symptoms, but it doesn’t solve the underlying problem. If your child is having trouble keeping up with math, it’s because they are missing core skills. As long as your child has not mastered core skills, they will continue to have problems.
A good tutoring program will use a comprehensive, baseline assessment to determine what skills are missing. Then the program should be structured to accomplish two things: teach those skills to your child over time so that the gaps are filled and provide ongoing support so your child can pass their math class. Since no two children are alike, the plan should be customized to meet your child’s exact needs.
3. THERE SHOULD BE AN END IN SIGHT
Your tutor helped your child pass the test and the semester. “Whew,” you might be thinking. “One semester down.”
The reality is if your child only learned enough to pass the test, he has not mastered the content and it will come back to haunt him.
Like reading, math builds on prior skills. If your child didn’t learn all the sounds of the letters, he wouldn’t be able to read. In math, if your child doesn’t build the basic skills, he won’t be able to progress. Key concepts like order of operations, fractions, decimals, and factors come up as often in math as words do in reading.
An effective tutoring program not only teaches the core skills that your child needs, it also has built in assessments that track your child’s progress and check for mastery, not just competence. Mastering these key skills means that your child won’t get “stuck in the math” when they start doing higher level problems.
It also means that once those holes are plugged, your child should not require ongoing tutoring. A good tutoring program will ultimately help your child master the skills that he needs to continue on his own without extra help.
When you are deciding on a tutor, find out how long the tutor feels it will take for your child to acquire all the skills he needs to be successful on his own. In the long run, a tutoring program that requires more time and money on the front end may save you lots of time and money in the long run. Positive results should come with an end in sight.
4. COMPARE “APPLES TO APPLES.”
There are many options when it comes to tutoring, so make sure you are comparing “apples to apples.”
Begin with instruction type. Is your child receiving one-on-one instruction and a customized plan, or group instruction?
Will your child only receive homework help, only receive instruction in core skills or is the program flexible enough to provide both?
Evaluate instruction time. How long will your child receive instruction? A half hour? An hour? How many times per week and per month will your child be able to attend?
Consider your role in the process. Do you prefer that all instruction comes from the instructors on-site or are you ready, willing and able to spend time working at home with your child?
How long will your child need a tutor? Ask if the solution will solve the problem long term or if you will be doing this again next year?
You’re entrusting your child to an adult for a period of time each week, and you should take the same precautions when hiring a tutor as you would when you hire anyone who is in contact with your child. Make sure that you can verify that the tutor is trustworthy and consider the environment where your child will be tutored.
Can the tutor provide a background check? Will your child meet the tutor in a public place such as a library or local cafe or will you meet in a dedicated learning space free from distractions? Will you be able to see your child or are they in a different room, away from sight?
If you haven’t had a chance to learn about the Mathnasium method, we hope you’ll schedule an appointment for a visit. Your child CAN learn math, and we’re here to help.