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Tutor Susan Ison gets many calls from parents. Some are frantic: “My child has a math test tomorrow! Can you help?” Others range from, “My child is falling behind” to “My teenager needs tutoring for the ACT.”
Ison, director of Memphis Tutorial Association, handles the first example with a confident, “Come over. Let’s get right on it.” The others permit more time and may involve her Victus Study Skills System or one-on-one tutoring over several months.
Tutoring — additional, specialized, remedial and/or enrichment instruction — not only may be necessary to help a child in school but also may increase a teen’s chances of getting into a good university or winning a scholarship.
When tutoring is needed
“Grades are the first indication,” says Pamela Palmer, owner of Tutoring for Success. Other signs your student might need help are when you, teachers, and/or other professionals notice that your child:
- Lacks confidence in a subject;
- Missed or doesn’t understand concepts being taught. Math, for example, builds on foundations like division, multiplication, and fractions;
- Persistently asks for help but is not improving, OR
- Never asks for help.
“Children can live a long while hoping clarification will pop into their head. It usually doesn’t,” notes Palmer. “These children may need tutoring twice a week to catch up.” Parents often seek help from a tutor when they can’t help their child themselves, or become frustrated in a homework-helping situation because the way they learned a subject is different from how it’s taught in school today.
“Parents often tell me the best thing they did for their child was to let someone else tutor,” Palmer says.
Since tutoring is very relationship-based, you should share with them any diagnosed learning disabilities. A tutor can also assess a child’s learning style.
Appropriate questions for a tutor include the degrees and certifications they hold, the type of classroom experience they’ve had, and how they work with students. And by all means, ask for references.
Tutoring builds confidence
Most children find a tutoring experience builds confidence; they become excited about learning. “If a child sees measurable progress, that’s a great motivator,” Palmer says. Tutoring especially helps demoralized students.
Ben Phillips is agency director of Jane Ross Tutoring, a 36-year-old Memphis firm that concentrates on ACT and SAT tutoring. “We look for ways to supplement what juniors and seniors have been learning in high school. We give them specialized training, tips, and strategies unique to college admission tests,” he says.
A teen with good grades in school may receive lower-than-expected scores on standardized tests. A way to change this, Phillips says, is to study in a way that fits the tests. For example, since ACT questions are multiple choice, it’s possible to recognize certain patterns and develop answering skills.
“We practice, practice, practice. We train students to do well and to be successful. It’s as much an exam in psychology as it is an academic exercise,” Phillips says. “Preparation alleviates test anxiety,”
Nothing succeeds like success
Alex Northcut, tutored by Phillips, saw his ACT score jump from 22 to 29. He took the test four times, meanwhile, his school grades also rose.
“Tutoring benefitted me. Oh, absolutely! It’s made me ready for anything academically that comes up,” says the Trinity Christian Academy senior, who hopes to go into sports broadcasting. “I learned how to pace myself and how to answer the questions thoroughly and accurately,” he says.
MEMPHIS TUTORING RESOURCES
Susan Ison, Memphis Tutorial Association • (901) 683-3718
Pamela Palmer, Tutoring for Success • (901) 737-7442
Ben Phillips, Jane Ross Tutoring • (731) 803-2552