Helping your child who is struggling with schoolwork can be stressful. As a parent, it’s also hard to know when a bad test score is just a blip, and when your child needs help from a trained educator to address an area of concern. At TutorUp, we only hire certified teachers who know how to assess problem areas and teach students the fundamental concepts they need to be successful in the classroom. As professional educators, our tutors know how to make learning more fun – and how to address issues like lack of concentration or motivation that make learning more challenging for some students.
Wondering whether a tutor can help your child? Here are 6 common learning challenges tutors know how to address
1. Difficulty understanding foundational concepts
For most parents, a sustained pattern of bad grades is one of the first signs that their child needs a tutor. But what does this pattern really tell you about what’s going on with your child at school?
Begin by scheduling a time to chat with your child’s teacher, so you can better understand the scope of the problem. Has your child misunderstood fundamental skills that would help them tackle complicated math concepts? Are they struggling with study skills, like memorization or reading directions?
If more study sessions don’t help your child’s schoolwork improve, one-on-one tutoring might be the answer. At TutorUp, we only hire certified, experienced teachers. These subject-matter experts know how to break down fundamental concepts and personalize lessons to give your child the focused instruction they need to succeed.
With your tutor, establish reasonable session goals to address your child’s learning style and specific needs. One-on-one attention and personalized lessons can help struggling students achieve the “ah-ha” moments that lead to real learning – and improved classroom performance.
2. Emotional distress and performance anxiety
While slipping grades can simply be a sign that course material is getting harder, low grades can also signal anxiety, stress, and even depression, says Dr. Claire McCarthy. That’s because depression in teens often looks different than it does in adults – and slipping grades can be a telltale sign of a more serious problem.
This could include “learning disabilities, ADHD, bullying, [or] substance use,” writes McCarthy at Harvard University’s health blog. “But whenever a child’s grades are dropping, it’s important to think about depression as a possible cause.”
Together with your child’s teacher, unpack any signs of troubled behavior at school and home in order to address potential mental health issues. Whether your child is simply stuck on a new concept or there’s something more serious at work, a parent-teacher conference is the best first step to take when grades start to drop.
In addition to classroom and appropriate professional support, after-school tutoring from a certified educator can help students become more confident in their abilities as they work through other issues.
By giving your child the study skills needed to find answers on her own, solve problems, and work independently, a tutor’s positive reinforcement will make a big difference in your child’s academic success.
3. A lack of focus at school or home
Does your student have difficulty following their teacher’s lectures, staying on task during independent reading and study hours, or finishing their work?
They might be struggling with self-esteem, anxiety, or lack of motivation, which could be making their work unfocused. While it’s best to work with your child’s teacher to discover the underlying cause, one-on-one tutoring can often help students develop more confidence in their abilities, which leads to improved classroom performance.
Occasionally unfocused work is the result of a more serious learning or attention disorder. Students diagnosed with attention disorders sometimes experience bouts of unproductivity because they have a different learning style, suggests Adrian Ridner, the founder of Study.com.
“The traditional classroom setting and conventional teaching methods are often not a great fit for students with ADHD so, naturally, many struggle to keep up and maintain good grades,” Ridner explained to U.S. News & World Report. “For those with ADHD, [a learning style preference] is of utmost importance.”
One-on-one tutoring can be especially beneficial for students with attention disorders, who need trained educators to take the time to explore visual, auditory, or tactile learning aids. If your child has an IEP, their classroom teacher is required to use these learning methods, too.
Together, your child’s classroom teacher and tutor can unlock the learning styles that help your child focus and retain material.
4. Disruptive behavior
When students are frustrated, stressed out, and discouraged by school work, they can disrupt others in the classroom. This can look like anything from talking back to their teacher to distracting their friends and seat mates from completing work.
Talk with your child about their behavior, and work together to find solutions that ease any anxieties or fears, suggests parenting expert Laura Flynn McCarthy. It’s also important to make time to discuss your child’s behavior with their teacher, who likely has insights into the root causes of their behavior.
If your child has been diagnosed with an attention disorder, learning disorder, autism, or other special needs, behavioral issues could be a sign of frustration or confusion in the classroom. Students with learning disabilities or attention disorders can receive the extra emotional and academic support they need to be more successful in the classroom from one-on-one sessions with a trained tutor.
One-on-one attention from a tutor isn’t a magic bandage for bad behavior in the classroom. But tutoring can help your child gain more confidence in their abilities, reconnect with their learning interests, and feel a sense of accomplishment – and that translates to fewer disruptions for everyone.
5. A lack of motivation
Even good students can lose motivation when they hit challenging course content, or feel like school is too boring to bother with.
As teens move through the curriculum, they often encounter more drills and problem sets than special projects that engage their imaginations. This can lead to students disengaging from their work, even if it’s a subject they used to care about.
One possible solution? Finding ways to inject creativity and hands-on learning into schoolwork, suggest new findings published in Scientific American. If it seems as though your child is stuck with teachers who “teach to the test,” rather than to excite and engage students, however, working with a tutor can be a way for your child to reignite their passion for subject matter.
There are other, more serious signs to look for when students suddenly lose interest in schoolwork, too. Lack of motivation is more severe if your child isn’t getting enough sleep or is so overwhelmed by extracurriculars that they don’t have extra energy to muster for their schoolwork. It can also be a sign of depression, substance abuse, or bullying.
Schedule a time to talk with your child’s teacher to find out what she’s noticed about your child’s behavior. If you can rule out more serious concerns together, one-on-one tutoring that taps into your child’s interests and creativity might be a great solution for helping your student get back on the path to success.
6. Poor study habits
One-on-one tutoring is an effective way to help struggling students learn foundational concepts, but did you know that tutors can also help students develop better study skills?
Tutors are excellent resources for students who struggle in school and may simply need more help learning study skills, like how to read directions, ask questions, take notes, and prioritize a long to-do list.
Too often, students who are used to drills, memorization, and formulaic worksheets have difficulty navigating open-ended assignments. Group projects, essays, and science fair experiments all call for different kinds of skills, like creativity, problem-solving, and developing an argument.
By supporting your child as they learn these fundamental skills, a tutor can instill more confidence in their abilities to work independently. As your child develops foundational study skills, even seemingly-impossible tasks become easier to conquer.