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Tutoring launches learners to the next level



83116012
March 01, 2011
As children grow, parents notice strengths and deficiencies in their academic prowess. Children will have their own learning style and respond to different types of teaching. Often, whether a child is gifted or needs remedial encouragement, tutors can push students to excellence—achieving to the best of their ability.

In years past, tutoring has been seen in a negative light, giving the perception that remedial students are the only ones who need tuition. Today, cut-throat competition in all adolescent arenas requires tutoring for students who need to maintain the utmost credentials for their future plans. "To overcome the hesitation of students or parents, I always remind them that we have Enrichment programs that help the children maintain and improve the AP programs at school, " Susan Abdelsalam with The Tutoring Center said.

However, tutoring also meets the needs of students struggling with a certain subject or needing assistance with core studying skills or preparation for standardized tests.

A success story

The scenarios vary, but parents start with the recognition that their child is not meeting his or her potential. Not getting average scores or scores that will allow entry to the desired college are red flags revealing a need for tutoring services.

Marian Powers, founder and director of Powers Education Services and Powers Assessment Center shared a success story. John's grades in Algebra had fallen from a C to a D. His teacher reported that John now had missing assignments and had always been a B student until this year. Powers' testing revealed that John's IQ was in the superior range, but his short-term memory for numbers was below average. He was becoming frustrated when test results didn't match his efforts.

With tutoring help from Powers, together they developed strategies to process the numbers in his Algebra problems in a more effective way and his grades improved to the A/B range. The good news, he only needed five hours of tutoring.

Schools do their best working with students, breaking them into leveled learning groups and providing out-of-the-classroom opportunities, but it's often not enough. Parents can learn how to help their child by obtaining the teacher's guidance, reading books or working alongside tutors to better understand the assessment process and tools needed to learn effectively.

Easily accessible tutoring services

With tutoring help, not only will parents see improvements in grades and test scores, but they will also discover an enthusiastic learner in their child. Dr. George McDermott with the Irvington Math Center works alongside his wife Dr. Nivan Saada, both licensed math teachers who help neighborhood kids. They are also contracted with IPS and approved by the state to offer supplemental tutoring and work with in-need families. "We see the areas students are most struggling with, then the concept is heavy hit and given attention they can't get in a room of 25 kids," McDermott said.

All tutoring services begin with a personalized assessment, tour of facilities if applicable and interview with potential tutors.

For students needing tutoring on a specific area of subject matter, the Indianapolis Marion County Public Library has teamed up with Tutor.com, a national online tutoring service. The service allows students in grade school through college to receive help with their homework. Since 2006, Marion county students have logged over 25,000 sessions with online tutors to receive Live Homework help in the subjects of math, science, English and social studies. Live homework help is available with new daily hours: 4 - 10 p.m.

Services from Tutor.com can be accessed by following links from the library's homepage. An IMCPL library card is required. Services at Tutor.com have recently expanded to help job seekers as well. Furthermore, a new mobile strategy, Tutor.com To Go™, is now available in the Apple App store, giving students mobile access to online lessons, worksheets, videos and test-prep resources.

Finding the right tutor

There are different types of tutors, each having their own purpose in the season of academia for their students. Procuring a reputable tutor can be done via word-of-mouth recommendations from other parents, through references from your child's school or by searching the Indianapolis area for reputable tutors and educators for hire.

The outcome described with John's experience is ideal and in order to achieve this, parents need to find the right fit for their student to succeed. Home tutors come at a high price, but may match your child's learning style and attention span. Learning centers like franchised Sylvan Learning Center or Kumon Math and Reading Centers offer one-on-one tutoring as well as small-group tutoring for specific subjects or study skills.

Thomas Jones, president of Sylvan Learning Center in Indiana said tutors on his staff are not only required to be certified and knowledgeable on the subjects they teach, but also have to have a passion for working with children. "They need to understand problems that the students are facing and be able to handle various situations that might arise," Jones said.

A tutor needs to have experience, expertise and success. The tutor needs to be able to create a positive experience and apply the proper teaching technique which best fits that student's needs. There are those that want to earn extra cash and those that are professionals and want to make a significant, positive impact in someone else's life.

Reading, Arithmetic or All of the above

For Chyten Tutors and Test Preparation in Carmel, the measurement side of what they do is more on standardized test preparation. Yet, on the academic side, it's much more anecdotal. "We measure with our state-approved testing tools as well as record how they do on their tests and quizzes. Chyten is pay as you go, no contracts are needed and we work one-on-one," Paul McCarthy, director of Chyten said. "On the reading and study skills side of things, there are built-in measurements within our tools. There are reading comprehension tools and in some assessments, reading speed."

Dr. McDermott said if parents see gains right away, with positive reinforcement, students will gain further understanding thus gain confidence and get less "you're just not good at math" comments. This confidence and early intervention is a recipe for success. "It's never too late either. We have college students coming in for help too," McDermott said.

Reading is the foundation for learning other topics. However students often struggle with math. "We always say math is no mystery," McDermott said. "It has a language of its own, like a foreign language it can become second nature. Some say if I was taught like this before things would be different. We approach each student scientifically and have an individual diagnosis."

As a successful tutor, one has to be patient and understand the content and how people learn, thus enabling improvement. A lot of times you see memorization of equations and steps without understanding what they mean so we come up with concrete models and slowly build with a physical model to the abstraction. "We work with a lot of abstract math concepts during our summer camps – exploring mathematics in art, science and nature," said McDermott.

Whether working with a reputable tutoring service or with a college student with the ability to help your child with a specific skill set, parents have to understand everything about their child's abilities and needs first and foremost.

Choosing your child's tutor needs to be taken seriously. Recognizing there is an opportunity for growth when deficiencies arise is important to correct the issue sooner rather than later. Researching the right tutor and experiencing success with your child will yield years of academic success.

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Nikki Keever is a freelance writer living in Noblesville, IN with her husband, three children and two dogs.

Tags: Education, Enrichment, In This Issue, Parenting

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