MATH TUTORING THAT WORKS
JOAN GEYER KALIHER
If you’re reading this article, your son or daughter probably could use some help in math. You are not alone. Many students find it hard to do well in math. Sure, some also excel at mathematics, but everyone else who has a tough time with it struggles and may not even ask for help. You know they need help, but they may be too embarrassed to admit it.
So, how do you find a math tutor who can not only help your child do better in math, but can also help them feel good about being tutored?
A good tutor needs to be realistic, practical, and honest, while at the same time, they must exhibit optimism, hope, and strong support. A tutor that promises “A”s can be misleading you. (With focused tutoring, we have seen student’s progress of grades jumping from D to B, C to B or A, or from B to A, with many students.) They should, commit to doing everything possible to help your student understand math concepts, current lessons, homework, and good study skills so their grades have a good chance of improving.
Your child’s math tutor should directly involve him or her in their current lessons with questions and help on specific examples they are having problems with. It won’t help your student reduce frustration with math, or improve their interest in lesson plans, if the tutor follows a “group instruction mode” similar to what a teacher may have to use. Talk to your child after sessions to make sure the tutor is consistently involved at a one-on-one level.
After a few lessons, an experienced tutor will understand, and adapt to, your child’s learning style and will customize lessons to fit. They will also talk with your child as needed to give them feedback on their progress.
Your chosen math tutor should encourage your child to be independent of them eventually. The tutor should not view themselves as a permanent fixture in your child’s life, but rather as the means to strengthen the student’s confidence, self esteem, and knowledge so that they will learn to help themselves. The goal is to instill a love of learning that will stick with your child throughout their whole life.
The math tutor and student must be compatible. Their relationship has to be one of mutual respect. After a few lessons, your child can determine if he or she and the tutor are “on the same “page”. However, if your child doesn’t want to be tutored, you may have to make a wise decision on your own. Ask them whether they want a different tutor, or if they just don’t want to be tutored at all. It could be that no tutor will ever be OK with them, and you will have to either force the issue or give up (I don’t recommend giving up).
In the end, you need to trust your gut, both before and after you choose a tutor. If you feel a tutor is not going to be the right one for your child, or if you feel it just isn’t working out after several lessons, then that particular tutor may not be a good fit. Give your tutor a fair chance to make an impact, and then continue to evaluate the situation by talking to the tutor and your son or daughter over time.