By Mandy Ginsberg, CEO of Tutor.com
More than 25 percent of families with middle school and high school children have hired tutors, according to a recent survey of 1,000 parents conducted by Tutor.com, an online tutoring service. Many of these families turn to tutoring because their children are having trouble keeping up in class, their grades have gone down or parents feel they are unable to help their children themselves. According to a survey from The National Center for Family Literacy almost 50 percent of parents turn to tutoring because feel they can’t help their children.
Here are some ways to tell if your child needs some homework help:
- Spending more time on homework: If your child is avoiding doing homework or spending more time on it than before, it may be time to bring in extra support. Struggling kids will either keep trying, getting more and more frustrated as they go, or they will avoid the issue by simply not doing their homework at all.
- Feels frustrated and “hates” school: Parents need to listen to their kids for cues. Is your child expressing frustration about a specific subject or has he had a change in attitude about school in general? Every student grumbles about school once in a while, but if your kid is complaining regularly or all of a sudden “hates” school, a teacher or a subject, something is wrong.
- Drop in grades: If your solid B math student starts bringing home C’s on quizzes and tests, it’s a sign that he has missed something in class and may need help to get back on track.
- Talk to your child: This can be tricky. Try to bring up the subject while giving them a lot of room to tell you what is going on. A good conversation starter is, “You seem kind of frustrated with homework lately. What can I do to help?”
- Contact the teacher: Starting a dialogue with your child’s teacher can help. Let the teacher know your child is struggling and see what solutions the school may offer.
- Traditional tutoring: In-person tutoring and tutoring centers are great options for students who have serious learning challenges or need in-depth help and support. Your child’s teacher may be able to recommend a tutor. You can expect to pay anywhere from $50 to $150 an hour, and most tutors work with your child in your home for an hour or two each week for several months.
- Check online resources: From videos to live tutoring, the Internet is a great source for help. Websites can offer live tutoring on your family’s schedule. This makes it easier to get help when students really need it, even late at night. If you’d like to try online tutoring, make sure to look for the following:
- Tutor credentials: Make sure the site includes information about the tutors’ qualifications and training.
- Background checks: Reputable services use third parties to verify tutors’ credentials and conduct security reviews.
- Access to tutors: This is especially important for student athletes. Is the service available 24/7 or will you need to wait a few days for a tutor to get back to you?
- Subject expertise: Some services focus just on math or writing. Make sure tutors are available for the subject you need.
- Results: The goal of tutoring for most students and parents is improved grades. See if the service has a Better Grade Guarantee.
Remember that getting help early when you first realize your child is struggling is best. The curriculum moves fast, and if your child misses just one or two concepts, she can quickly fall behind and get frustrated even in subjects she usually excels in.
Mandy Ginsberg is the CEO of Tutor.com, an IAC company, that powers tutoring and homework help programs for the Department of Defense; thousands of public libraries, school districts, colleges and universities; and the states of Alabama, Alaska, Louisiana, Montana, North Dakota, Rhode Island and the District of Columbia.