The mid-term or first term report card is received by earnest, perhaps anxious parents. How is my child doing? The classic question. When grades are not as expected and teachers write about various concerns, a parent seeks the parent/teacher interview (or may be invited to one). The next question about questionable, possibly troubling achievement is ‘Why?’. Often not easy to answer, with likely more than a handful of reasons in play.
Parents love their children and want the situation fixed, and they next ask, ‘How?’. Most school teachers have various remedies worthy of consideration, yet the time required to supervise effective implementation of these is for the most part institutionally lacking, and really that’s nobody’s fault, given a very ‘big picture’ in terms of modern education.
Enter the math, science, and English tutor as the solution (and there are other areas of instruction). A parent who is resourceful in hiring one-on-one teaching in the home will have taken a significant step in both the ‘Why?’ and the ‘How?’ The parents’ engagement, however, should not stop at answering the door and signing a timesheet.
A thoughtful, experienced tutor will actively seek at least one parent as a participant in the tutoring process. From a ‘sit down’ to talk about the student and problems in school to ongoing dialogue concerning the progress in the tutoring process, tutors engage parents as facilitators and ideally as reinforcement of the in-home teaching experience. There may even be occasion to counsel a parent about general, positive attitudes to be promoted as part of tutoring so as to see an atmosphere created for an hour or two during the day that is conducive to focused, effective learning. All this is a productive investment in mutual understanding and academic growth, often with welcome social benefits.
Educators have accepted for some years that parental involvement in their children’s learning promotes, and yields, better performance, and studies* have made this acceptance more than a matter of apparent common sense.
In essence, then, there are two ‘How’s?’ that should be responded to: HOW to have a student better achieve; and HOW parents can contribute to such an important goal. A tutor in Toronto, Calgary, and Vancouver is there for the asking.
* see, for example, ‘Effects of Parent Involvement in Isolation or in Combination With Peer Tutoring on Student Self Concept and Mathematics Achievement’, Fantuzzo, Davis, Ginsburg (University of Pennsylvania) Journal of Educational Psychology, 1995, Vol. 87, No. 2, 272-281
(Robert MacFarlane is a graduate of Princeton University, and has been associated with Book Smart Tutors for several years. This is the SECOND in a series that will explore education and the role of tutoring in supporting and enhancing a student’s academic experience and achievement.)