The Different Looks of Tutoring

When you hear the word “tutoring”, most likely some preconceived ideas pop into your mind. Tutoring is commonly viewed as a solution for struggling students, a last-resort of sorts when all other interventions have failed, perhaps even a consequence for students who aren’t giving their best effort. In reality, tutoring relationships look very different depending on the unique need, and students and parents are using tutors to leverage learning potential in all sorts of creative ways.

Here’s a few:

The Next Level. Marcy is a high school student with a strong work ethic and a great GPA. She’s in the top ten percent of her class, takes a roster of advanced and AP classes, and even though she says she worries about getting into her top college picks, everyone knows she won’t have a problem. She is taking AP Calculus, a class notorious for its high level of rigor; since she works hard, her grades are in the A-/B+ range, and she’s clearly making progress. However, she’s not satisfied. She has some potential majors in mind, and she’ll need a strong understanding of calculus in order to be successful. In addition, she is fascinated by the work she’s doing, and she wants to do more than just earn a passing score. For a student like Marcy, tutoring offers the chance to move from good to great. A tutor can take the time to explain concepts until the learner has a solid grasp on them, and the one-on-one time with an expert in the subject area provides a chance to pose questions and explore solutions, pushing understanding to the next level. While Marcy’s grade and AP score will certainly improve, the real benefit is her confidence and preparation for the next level.

Enrichment. Eli is a fifth grader who loves science and math. He’s in the gifted program at his school, but it doesn’t seem to be enough to quench his thirst for answers. His parents don’t have a background in science, and many of his questions are more difficult than what they can reasonably answer. For a student like Eli, tutoring is an opportunity for academic enrichment. Tutoring sessions can be built around projects or subject areas, and they can provide one-on-one enrichment that a classroom can’t. For a student whose interest goes beyond what is studied in the classroom, tutoring is great way to keep challenging an active mind. Also, these tutoring sessions don’t have to be scheduled during the school year; the relaxed summer months are a great time tackle new topics and projects with a tutor.

Study Skills. Joey is smart. His parents know it. His teachers know it. But his grades don’t reflect his ability. His progress reports reveal homework assignments that were never turned in and quizzes for which he apparently never studied. It looks like he is working hard; he spends an hour or two at his desk each night, but his parents wonder if he’s using his time wisely. Study skills are not innate to all students, and a failure to learn them can cripple academic progress for years to come. Joey would benefit from a tutor who will teach him how to study and then practice with him, someone to show him how to successfully utilize a planner and provide accountability when he starts to use it. He needs a tutor to teach him how to organize his time, how to motivate himself, and how to create a system of checks and balances so he catches his mistake before he forgets to turn in a paper. Study skills tutoring provides both skills and motivation, and it can dramatically change a student’s academic course for the better.

Academic Help. English has never come easily to Amy, and as she enters seventh grade, it is becoming very apparent that she has missed some basic skills in previous years. She is frustrated by her grades, her progress, and her nightly homework, which has become a battle with her parents. She is a good kid and a hard worker, but she is in over her head. A tutor is an invaluable resource for a student trying to catch up in a subject area. While Amy might be reluctant to ask questions in class, she can do so safely in a one-on-one situation. Her tutor can help identify specific areas of weakness and present the material in various ways until she understands. Tutoring provides a safe and encouraging place for students to learn, and students thrive in a nurturing environment. Tutors often set up systems of rewards and motivators, and they help celebrate each success as it comes.

At Connections, we create a custom program for each student. Some students receive tutoring for a short amount of time in preparation for a test or to help master a topic; other students opt to work with a tutor long-term, maintaining the level of success they have experienced or pushing ahead to the next level. Whatever the academic need, reach out to us. We are committed to helping students thrive!

Written by Laura Simon, Connections Tutoring Blog Contributor