How to know when your child needs a tutor

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The first indicator for remedial tutoring help is when a student demonstrates failing grades in a subject, usually reading or math. But as the student advances through the educational system, other issues may arise. “We get a lot of students who just breeze through elementary school and maybe even middle school,” Michelle Scott, owner/director of Tutoring Club of McLean, says. “Then when they start to get to high school, maybe they are now in those advanced college-prep classes and going at a much faster pace. That is when it kind of hits them that they need help.”

She says that they also have students who “don’t know what they don’t know,” and who are completely missing homework deadlines. “They don’t understand the importance of it,” Scott says. “‘Why do I have to study for a test?’ ‘What is the purpose of it?’ Then they develop a relationship with a tutor one-on-one and we celebrate their success. They start to see how awesome it feels to have that goal and achieve that goal.”

Tutoring center vs. Private tutoring

Tutoring center

Pros – Good for students who don’t need constant one-on-one teaching but are mature enough to be able to handle independent work given by a tutor. The range of teaching experiences and abilities is generally better than private tutors, simply because there are more teachers available from more backgrounds who may be available throughout the center’s network of tutors.

Cons – Tutoring centers are set up more like a standard classroom, with multiple students being taught by one tutor and/or an assistant. The tutor may not be able to develop a connection with each student. Even with customized teaching objectives for each child, there can be distractions from the environment or from other students that make concentrating on learning more difficult. This is not a good environment for a student who has already struggled in a classroom setting.

Private tutoring

Pros – A private tutor is generally more in touch with a student’s particular issues. They can be hired to work directly on a specific subject matter where a student is struggling. There is more of a personal relationship, with most private tutors coming to the student’s home where the lessons are conducted in a safe and familiar environment, with the added benefit of the tutor being able to observe the family dynamic up-close, which can lead to a better learning experience. Students feel more empowered to ask questions without fear of ridicule from other classmates.

Cons – Some students will not like a private tutor because they feel forced to like that one person, which can lead to a stubborn resistance. There may not be a good personal interaction and some students will not acknowledge that but just go along with their parent’s plan. A private tutor coming to a student’s home may actually backfire because the student feels that person is invading their private space and challenging their comfort zone.

Subjects of private tutoring

Math (37 percent) and English/reading/writing (27 percent) combine to account for 64 percent of all private tutoring.

Lower school tutoring is focused on learning the basic skills, especially English/reading/writing.

Upper school tutoring is centered on math, with almost 60 percent of school-wide math tutoring going to upper school students.

Source: Survey by the National Association of Independent Schools, 2008

How much is spent on tutoring?

The bulk of science tutoring takes place in the upper school, particularly 10th grade, where 17 percent of students are tutored in science.

The global tutoring market for private tutoring services is projected to reach $227 billion by 2022.*

Estimated tutoring center costs in the U.S.: $45-$60/hour**

Estimated private tutoring costs in the U.S.: $30-$85/hour**

High-income households are spending much more on their children’s education for such things as SAT prep, private tutors, computers and music lessons. Over the past four decades, families at the top of the income ladder have increased spending in these areas dramatically, from just over $3,500 to nearly $9,000 per child per year.***

Sources: *Report from Global Industry Analysts “Private Tutoring – A Research Brief,” 2016; **Angie’s List, 2010; ***Report from The Hamilton Project, “Enrichment Expenditures on Children,” 2006

(May 2018)

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