As my child has changed and matured over the years, so too have her parent/teacher conferences. At the kindergarten conference, as I perched precariously on a teeny tiny chair, I was most concerned about whether or not she was making friends and remembering to flush the potty. Fifth grade focused on her adjustment to significant changes in her life, including a new step-father and baby sister. Now, in 8th grade, conferences have taken on a purely academic purpose. Recently, I spent two full hours meeting with teachers to discuss her grades, classroom participation, and organizational skills. Believe it or not, two hours was not enough and we still have one more teacher to meet with.
After nine years of parent/teacher conferences, I’ve discovered a few things:
- My kid does pretty well in school and kicks butt on tests, but struggles with organization, time management, and study skills.
- I am no longer able to help her with certain homework assignments. Algebra baffled me in high school and still baffles me today.
- I am terrified of what’s to come. Trigonometry, Geometry, Calculus, Physics – I will be of no use to her in any of these subjects.
So, what is a parent to do once their child’s academic progress has surpassed their own fading remnants of knowledge from high school math and science? Do we simply toss them unassisted into the murky depths of physics and chemistry, hoping they’ll learn to swim before they sink too far? Of course not. Instead, we find other ways to help and support them through their academic challenges.
Locally, there are a wide variety of options for parents seeking educational assistance for their kids. Perhaps your 1st grader is behind in reading and is resistant when you try to help. Perhaps your 6th grader loses homework, forgets assignments, and is in serious need of some organizational skills. Perhaps your 10th grader is struggling in several classes and is experiencing significant anxiety over how it might affect her GPA. If any of this sounds familiar, here are a few ideas you may want to consider:
- Always start with the school and make the most of the resources offered there. There may be study halls, after school homework help, study groups, and teacher office hours. If you’re unsure of what your school offers, ask a teacher. If you’re not happy with the academic support offered, talk to the administrators. Don’t think of it as being a squeaky wheel. Think of it as being an advocate for your child.
- Hire a high school student as a tutor. For younger children, this would be a more affordable option than pricey tutoring services and your kids are likely to look up to an older youth. They may be more receptive to help from a young, intelligent teenager than from their old, ignorant parents.
- Hire a CSU student as a tutor. This is certainly a benefit of living in a town overflowing with college students. You should be able to find someone for any subject, and they’re likely to be broke and in need of your money. CSU has a job posting service, where you can post a job announcement for free.
- Find a tutor online. There are online tutoring services, like WyzAnt, that help match tutors up with students. You can search for tutors by location and subject. There are also services, such as tutor.com, where all of the tutoring occurs online. Although you lose the personal connection, having access to a tutor 24/7 could be beneficial.
- Find a tutoring business. Some national brands, like Sylvan and Huntington Learning Centers, offer extensive evaluations and hire licensed teachers as tutors. This is likely to be the priciest option. Local brands like Tutor Doctor Northern Colorado, High 5 Tutoring, and NiceGrade may offer some of the same services at a lower price.
- Avoid Craigslist. Tutoring services have been a recent target of scams, with both tutors and students being asked to send money in advance. For this particular service, it’s best to just use other options.
As with most parenting issues, one of the most important tools here is communication. Communicate with your child about the challenges, worries, and anxieties they may be facing in school. Communicate with the school to gain their perspective on the issues and their suggestions on possible solutions. Then, do your own research and find a good fit for you and your child!
Have you or your child used tutor services? Any tips to other parents who may be exploring this option?