Does your Child Need a Tutor?
A parent's first reaction to poor school grades is to find a tutor to work with their struggling child. This is typically followed by your child screaming they have no desire to meet with a tutor.
Could your child be right? Maybe a tutor IS NOT the answer to your child's school struggles.
There is one question that can help you determine whether your child needs a tutor to help improve their school experience.
If a tutor is not the right fit, where do you turn? An academic coach might be the answer.
Once you decide whether a tutor or an academic coach is the right solution for your child struggles at school, let me offer an absurd suggestion: Let your teenager help choose their academic support!
What to Ask Before Hiring a Tutor
Where does your Child Struggle?
To decide whether your teenager needs a tutor or an academic coach answer this question:
Is your child struggling with educational concepts or skills?
If your child is receiving failing grades in one class, yet receives high marks in their other subjects- a tutor might be the best resource for your child. However, if your child has missing work, procrastinates, suffers from poor time management or lacks motivation - an academic coach might be a better fit.
A tutor helps with specific concepts, an academic coach helps with process of learning.
The Differences between a Tutor and an Academic Coach
A tutor will help your child review or re-learn the subject content. They might work on homework problems or spend additional time on particular concepts your child missed in class.
A tutor will help your child master the material. In fact, the definition of a tutor is a private teacher or one in charge of instruction. This individual is hired to teach your child the material they learn in school.
If your teenager struggles with multiple classes and the lower grades are due to missing work or study habits, an academic coach is the best resource for your child.
Low grades in multiple classes suggest that it is not the inability to understand the material, but the absence of study skills, motivation, organization or time management. An academic coach can help a child build these areas. The focus is not on relearning concepts but learning skills to thrive in school.
However, a skilled academic coach should not teach your child these skills. Telling a client how to do something is no different than being a tutor. The International Coach Federation (ICF) defines coaching as “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.” There is no telling the child what to do. Instead, our training empowers the student to set goals, overcome obstacles and work towards positive change that can help them in all areas of their lives.
Yes, I have many tools to share with students, but they are delivered with permission and in the context of the student's unique goals.
Quite often, I will see a student they apply their growth in academic coaching to other areas of their lives. This is the path to independence and maturity that both parents and teenagers want!
Include your Child in the Hiring Process
Whether you hire a tutor or coach, I encourage you to include your child in the hiring process. It does not matter if your child is struggling in high school, middle school or elementary school- their ability to connect with the adult that will help them with school, sets the tone for their experience. If your child has to spend extra time on a difficult subject, allow them to have a say in who helps them build the skills they struggle with.
This is why I insist on meeting with potential students for a free strategy session. It allows the student to have power in their education and it ensures we are a good match.
Ask your child their preference in tutor or coach. Do they prefer private sessions or a large learning center? Do they prefer a current teacher or a student? Where do they wish to meet? Some students do not want to be seen at their local coffee shop for fear of running into friends. Are home or virtual sessions an option? This can give your teenager the privacy they crave (complete side note- I once had a student invite their friends to join a meeting). Honor your child’s preferences when hiring academic support. If they refuse to work with a tutor or coach, offer the opportunity to let them correct their grades with the understanding that support will be brought in if they do not succeed on their own.
Respecting your child’s opinion about hiring a tutor or academic coach may not cause them to jump up and down with joy, but they might attend sessions with fewer complaints.
The Bottom Line:
If you think that academic coaching might be the support your child needs for this school year, please reach out for a parent consult. I work with students across the country, via the magical elves at Zoom. During our conversation, we can explore whether coaching is a possible fit for your child.
MA Counselor ED, ACC Academic Coach
Team Pasch Academic Coaching