A mother of a first grader recently asked me if she should have her daughter, Lindsay tutored as soon as school begins or wait just prior to SAT testing in January or February.
There is no simple yes or no answer as it depends on Lindsay's academic level as she enters her new grade. If she is on level, doing well on standardized testing to date and enjoys academic challenges, then waiting would be a sound option for her. The tutoring could then consist of test taking strategies if needed.
However, if Lindsay has struggled all year in her previous grade, barely passing tests and dreading school work, then we are looking at an entirely different scenario. For those children who take a longer period of time to
recoup information after a break from school, whether it is Christmas, Easter or Summer, tutoring gives them the necessary advantage of regaining familiarity with materials and strategies that may benefit them.
If your child has an IEP or Individual Education Plan, and it has been documented that it takes longer than the typical forty day period to recoup information that has already been taught, then by all means arrange for
that tutor ASAP. In this way you are increasing the chances of a successful school year.
Consistency with tutoring is also essential. Some parents feel secure in the knowledge that they've hired someone and plan for two or three sessions a week. Life happens and sessions are cancelled, leaving the struggling child, struggling. Cancellations for a child who simply needs a refresher may not be a terrible thing. However, for the child who is already behind his/ her classmates, canceling can be equivalent of not hiring a tutor at all.
One session per week is usually not beneficial for a child who lags behind his/her peers, as week after week, all that is accomplished is a review of the week before. In order to move forward and gain new skills, repetition and reinforcement are essential.
To increase reading fluency for example, the tutor should be working with your child a minimum of three days per week. The other alternative if finances are an issue, is to hire the tutor for fewer sessions per week and then look into an honors high school student who may need service hours.
This student can continue with the repetition and reinforcement needed and follow the tutor's individualized program for your child. Remember not every tutor is for every child. You may need to shop around for the best person to meet your child's needs. Your child's guidance counselor may be a good person to ask for referrals.
A child who is able to keep up with their classmates, complete homework and projects independently and continually receive good report cards, is the child who will enjoy school and be prepared for the next grade. If your child is not there yet, consider hiring a qualified tutor when the school year begins.