Friday, February 20, 2015

Keep That Regular Tutor Regular

Students always enjoy a day off school, especially when it is a snow day that has followed a holiday. Days off provide a respite and time for the body and the brain to renew itself from the academic grind. But students know that the key to academic success, especially in difficult subjects, is consistently studying and completing homework. Students having difficulty in school especially need to develop those consistent study habits to master the material for that specific class. If this is a sequence class that leads to another class in the same subject area, like Algebra I that leads to Algebra II or Level I of a foreign language that leads to Level II, consistently learning those concepts or learning subject-matter vocabulary is extremely important.

This same philosophy should be used when hiring a tutor to shore up academic weaknesses for a student who wants a better grade in a subject. The tutoring schedule should be consistent—that is, at least weekly, or twice weekly if scheduled—for the optimum results.  This schedule should be adhered to with minimum cancellations or re-scheduling.  This will ensure that the goals set by the student to improve in that class will be attained. Developing excellent study habits can only lead to better grades.   When all these factors are working harmoniously, student success is imminent. But, be very careful when the tutor helps the student achieve this academic success, and the student’s progress is phenomenal. It is very tempting to adjust the tutoring sessions and turn that brilliant, consistent tutor into a homework tutor. That you do not want.

When a regular tutor turns into a homework tutor, he or she is requested only to come when the student has homework. The parent calls to postpone sessions. Either there was no school the day before, or the student doesn’t have any homework. Here it is easy for the student to slip back into bad study habits that brought on the academic problems in the first place.  The student postpones assignments until the tutor returns.

However, the primary reasons for having a tutor, besides explaining the difficult concepts of the subject matter, is to help the student develop good study habits and maintain that good, consistent study pattern.  The tutor then continues to explain those important concepts, helping the student understand the material. From this, test scores are raised, which eventually raises the student’s grade. The student has then developed the fundamental concepts that will help him or her make the connections to future concepts studied in the class.

This can’t be done if the regular tutor has turned into a homework tutor. So, keep your regularly scheduled tutoring sessions, even if there is no homework scheduled for the next class. The student and the tutor can work on new concepts or review previous materials from that class that may appear on a semester or final exam. This can be specific material or unique vocabulary that must be mastered as a baseline for the subject. Also, future projects can be started or continued without procrastinating until the last minute. And, with the plethora of online academic websites, the student can always practice concepts in that particular subject in a more challenging way. The student already knows school- recommended websites that can be practiced. Even the tutor can assist with more grade appropriate, content specific websites.

Meeting on a regular schedule with the tutor benefits the student. Goals and objectives are reached. Grades rise. A confident feeling about the subject matter in the class will develop. Regularly practicing specific concepts will promote better academic performance.  For junior high and high school, that translates into better grades and a higher GPA.  Keeping a regularly scheduled tutoring session is like exercising regularly. The body benefits more from regular exercise that it would from exercise only done when a person feels it is needed.  Don’t turn your regularly scheduled tutor into a homework tutor.  Maintain that consistent tutorial schedule.

Written by Louis E. Blount, a TFS tutor. Louis tutors English, Spanish, Writing, SAT prep, and Organization and Study Skills. He also works as an Academic Coach. Louis tutors in Fairfax County, specifically in Annandale, McLean, Falls Church, Fairfax, and Vienna. View his complete profile here:

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