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How and When to Find a Tutor for Your Child

How and When to Find a Tutor for Your Child

Kids are struggling more than ever—experts weigh in on how and when to find a tutor.


It’s an unusual time for education—remote learning has forced students to find new ways to engage with academics. Many are struggling with at-home learning (Zoom calls, Google classroom, etc.) and some are struggling with the schoolwork itself. How do you know if your child needs extra help? We asked education experts how parents can assess from the sidelines and intervene if necessary.

Signs You May Need to Find a Tutor

Although many flailing students will be flagged by their teacher, it’s often up to the parents to observe the signs. Angela Thomas, director of wellness and counseling at the Elisabeth Morrow School in New Jersey, says she’s “not sure the teacher will always ring the alarm as much as an observant parent can.”

If your kid is struggling to keep up, having problems completing grade-level assignments, getting low grades, avoiding doing homework, or complaining about material being too hard, it’s a good time to investigate further help, says Jeffrey Wu, managing director of The Tutorverse in Manhattan.

Other signs your child may need extra help, according to Daniel Koffler, president of New Frontiers Executive Functioning Coaching in Manhattan: your kid normally likes school but is suddenly disinterested, or you sense a sudden loss of self-confidence or motivation. “These are difficult signals to read as they can be momentary, or sometimes hidden, but most parents know their children well enough to look out for cues,” he says.

Parents should also pay attention to how their child feels about a subject, says Talia Kovacs, CEO of an international consulting firm and founder of Talia Kovacs Consulting in Brooklyn. “For many children, disinterest in a subject is a sign that they are not yet fully understanding the topic or are having a hard time making natural connections necessary to grasp a concept,” she says. This might just be a matter of asking them what subjects they don’t like and then confirming with the teacher that it’s a topic of concern.



How to Find the Right Tutor

If a parent decides their child could benefit from a tutor, they should first speak with their kid’s teacher to get his perspective, Koffler says. “Sometimes children can be defiant or take a different stance on accountability at school vs. home.” He also believes parents should speak with their child. “It’s important that they have agency over their educational efforts, regardless of age.”

Ask teachers, friends and community members for recommendations and referrals for tutors—either remote, in-person, or a hybrid—in your area. It’s important to make sure you find someone who is specifically trained in the subjects in which your child needs help. For example, Rebecca Mannis, Ph.D., learning specialist and founder of Ivy Prep Learning Center, points out that someone who is trained in how to teach beginning reading may not know how to teach reading comprehension strategies to middle school students within the context of their history class.

Early intervention is always the best approach, Koffler warns. “The longer one lets a problem fester, the harder it is to reinforce foundations and make progress,” he says. Getting your child back on track will help them feel better about themselves and their abilities. And as Kovacs points out, “by using an outside tutor to help your child understand a topic further and retain their curiosity, you’ll help them find their love of learning all over again.”

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Shana Liebman

Author:

Shana Liebman is the features editor of NYMP. She’s a writer and editor who has worked for magazines including New York MagazineSalon, and Travel & Leisure—and she is the mom of two energetic little boys.

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