Plenty of Reasons to Engage a Tutor (1)

Students at all grade levels are exposed to pressures from lots of difference sources, some that are easily recognized, while others are much more subtle.

Early in elementary school, there is the challenge facing professional educators of assessing students’ individual abilities, needs, and addressing these by means of self-acknowledged limited resources. In doing so, class sizes and teachers with ‘so many hours in a school day’ come into play, as a start. Given proper motivation, the naturally bright student will make the anticipated and expected progress. There remains for that student, however, the risk of boredom with school, and distraction elsewhere.

Most children have different paths to learning, with varying degrees of difficulty, and they may be more vulnerable to the impact of limiting teaching resources in most grades. Large class sizes may result in overlooking weaknesses in individual cases, inadequate attention, and assessments (marks) that promote a student with an artificial, inaccurate record of aptitude and achievement. The problem can be cumulative, as in a student reaching high school who has reading and writing skills that are still quite ‘elementary’. The same can be applied to mathematics. In such a situation, it can be very difficult to ‘catch up’ within the school system itself, and there is a danger that a responsible student will be ‘left behind’, with parents in particular not realizing that until it’s too late.

A small segment with financial means may resort to private school education in the hope that more focused teaching will result in markedly better grades, and higher averages that are needed these days in order to gain entrance to superior universities, professional programs, and colleges, and to qualify for bursaries and scholarships.

One-on-one, personalized tutoring appears to be a cheaper, yet similarly effective alternative to the private school route. The operative word is personalized, because a highly competent, dedicated tutor often adds dimensions beyond review and enhanced teaching of the school curriculum. A tutor affords an excellent ‘academic example’ for the student, and often a genuine rapport is established in terms of caring how a student is doing in and outside the classroom. And perhaps most important is that the student has available to him or her a ‘mentor’, someone who believes in and understands the student. The value of that cannot be understated.

Robert MacFarlane is a graduate of Princeton University, and has been associated with Book Smart Tutors for several years. This is the first in a series that will explore education and the role of tutoring in supporting and enhancing a student’s academic experience and achievement.

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