As an after-school enrichment teacher for almost 7 years now, I know a lot about parental expectations, and I have seen firsthand how much parents invest in their students’ educations. Mostly, parents are a delight to work with, and it is easy to communicate and work with them to ensure the success of a child. Every once in a while, though, there appears to be a bit of a disconnect between what parents expect and what is actually possible in terms of what English tutoring can and cannot do.
The Top 4 Misconceptions
1. Teachers are Magicians.
As much as I wish that I could wave a magic wand and have every student of mine scoring in the top percentiles of reading and writing, I can’t. And neither can any other teacher (that I know of). Teaching is hard work, and beyond that, it requires team work. This team consists of the student, the teacher, and the parents. If even one of these members is not doing his or her part, then success can be hindered.
2. Improvement is Immediate.
Sometimes, in their desire for their child to succeed, parents wonder why they aren’t seeing immediate improvement. In this case, it is true what they say: “practice makes perfect.”
In English and reading tutoring, or any other tutoring for that matter, students need time to get to know their tutor, along with wrapping their heads around what, in many cases, is completely unfamiliar subject matter. Allow your child time to build a routine and rapport with his or her tutor. The more comfortable your child is, the more willing he or she will be to ask questions and commit to the program.
And, just to warn you, some English topics take time to learn well. For example, the only way to get better at comprehension is to read and answer questions or discuss topics based on that reading. Expect improvement to start to show after months, not weeks or days.
3. No Homework is Necessary.
Although extra tutoring is an investment and does take a chunk of time out of the week, how much students get out of them depends greatly on how much they put into them. Working on a confusing topic for half an hour or an hour a week is rarely enough to make major changes in ability – understanding the comprehension, vocabulary, or writing tip simply isn’t enough without practicing using it.
To make the most of their English tutoring, students need to continue to build on the skills that were covered throughout the week, or they run the risk of forgetting the material and not being able to move forward at the next session. Meaning you repeat the lesson because the student forgot everything and still has the same problem.
If homework or other tasks are assigned during tutoring, trust me when I say they are for the benefit of your child, and you should make every effort to see that they are completed.
4. One Size Fits All
Just as there are many different types of learners in the world, there are many types of supplemental education available to you! Before signing up for a program, be sure to understand your student’s specific needs. Does he or she need help understanding a specific Grammar topic? Is he or she behind and needs help to catch up for a week or two that was missed? In these cases, tutoring is probably your best option – it’s good for specific and short-term needs.
However, if your child is bored and needs an extra challenge or needs a more consistent, long-term approach, an after-school English or reading enrichment program would most likely be a better fit. Especially for those topics that take longer to improve, like writing and reading comprehension.
Remember: success not only depends on the teamwork I mentioned above, but also on finding the best fit for your student’s unique needs.
What do you think? What has been your experience with tutoring? What works best for your child when it comes to improving his or her English skills? We would love to hear from you in the comments!
Author: Emily Karth, Program Coordinator at A Grade Ahead