We all need a little extra help sometimes. At some point in the academic journey, tutoring is of value in most student’s lives. Whether it be a high school student prepping for the SAT or a child with a learning disability struggling with reading, tutoring can make a difference.

A tutor will work with your child in a more focused way than would be possible in a classroom of many children. Therefore, progress can be achieved in a short time. As someone who has tutored children, I can say it was most often a positive experience, and students enjoyed the one-on-one attention.

Tutoring increases subject-specific knowledge. It can be used for catching up, keeping up or getting ahead, and it can also increase confidence. Tutoring is good for students who are shy or have fear of a subject, commonly math. A study published in The Journal of Neuroscienc looked at children who had math anxiety and found that tutoring significantly reduced their anxiety.

During the study, children with and without math anxiety, as demonstrated on brain scans, were tutored in math one-on-one, three times a week.

After eight weeks, both groups improved in math performance approximately the same. However, the greatest change came when the researchers repeated the brain scan on the students with math anxiety. By the end of the study, the previously active parts of the amygdala looked identical to the brains of the students who did not have math anxiety.

Tutored students not only improve in self-confidence, they also improve in something psychologists call “internal locus of control”, which is the belief that they have influence over the outcome of events in their lives.

Your child may benefit from being tutored if:

• Your child is performing below expectations or getting behind their peers
• Your child has anxiety with a particular subject
• Your child needs to prepare for an upcoming exam or boost a previous score or grades
• You would like your child to study a subject the school has cut from the curriculum
• Your child needs to be challenged with higher level studies

It can be helpful to talk to your child’s teacher before you make the decision to hire a tutor, as there may be extra help that could be provided free of charge through the school. Or, the teacher may have other ideas about how to help your child. The least costly option is to consider whether you or your partner or older sibling could provide regular tutoring for your child. Of course, this comes with its own difficulties. Generally, the best tutors are:

• Teachers who want to earn extra cash
• Retired teachers
• University and college students

If you are using an individual, rather than a learning center, for safety’s sake, it’s wise to have the tutor come to your home so you can eavesdrop a bit during the sessions and make sure it is a good and proper match for your child. Or, another option may be for the child to stay after school and work with a teacher, on campus, who moonlights as a tutor. Many tutors work through a tutoring agency. To find a tutor or an agency in your area, search online, through a site such as Thumbtack. You can also inquire through your child’s school’s front office as many schools keep a list of tutors on hand.

As confidence and academic skills go up, perceived control goes up and frustrations and emotional problems go down.

The earlier potential areas of struggle and anxiety are targeted, the better the results. Students who are self-assured in solving academic problems can then more confidently transfer this knowledge to solving life problems.

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