Source: Indys Child Parenting Magazine

Dear Teacher
Finding Tutoring Help + Increasing Class Participation

by Peggy Gisler and Marge Eberts

March 01, 2012

Newspaper in Education Week

Parents: The first week in March is always Newspapers in Education Week. Many schools will teach lessons using the newspaper this week and also throughout the year. Strengthen what the schools are doing with your own at-home newspaper activities.

Preschoolers can circle letters of the alphabet as they learn the names of the letters and tell you stories about pictures they see in the newspaper. Older children need to observe the difference between reading print and online newspapers. Search for more newspaper activities on our Web site,

Finding Tutoring Help

Question: Things are going downhill fast in math and science for our son who entered middle school this year. His teachers don't have the time to help him. How do we find a good tutor for our child? – Worried

Answer: You say that your son’s teachers don't have the time to help him. That could be true for some of his teachers, but others may have before- or after-school tutoring times for groups of students. This should be investigated.

Your son definitely needs an intervention plan to be put in place quickly. He may or may not need a tutor. Perhaps the school can provide sufficient help. Enlist the guidance counselor in setting up a meeting with your child's math and science teachers. Your son should attend. At this meeting, you need to find out what your child's specific problems are. Is he not turning in assignments? Is he doing poorly on quizzes? Is he flunking tests? How is his daily class participation? Can he read and understand the textbooks? After this meeting, you should know the level of help your child needs and exactly how the school can help him and whether or not you need to go the route of finding a tutor.

When you are looking for a tutor, the best place to start is frequently with the guidance counselor. The school may also have a list of teachers in the building who tutor, as well as other tutors. The counselor may also be able to recommend a learning center that has produced good results. Another resource for finding a tutor is talking to parents who have used tutors.

One possibility that parents do not often consider is finding a high school student who is an ace in the subject in which a child needs tutoring. Some high schools even have groups of students who tutor. While these programs often cater primarily to high school students, they may also tutor younger students. Local colleges may also have students who tutor.

We realize that price must be a consideration in choosing a tutor. You must also factor in the tutor's credentials, experience, availability and methods. Have your son be part of the selection process, as you need to find someone with whom he can work comfortably. It is generally a good idea to interview more than one prospective tutor.

Increasing Class Participation

Question: My sixth-grade daughter is a great student, has friends and is involved in choir and tennis. She is, however, a rather quiet, shy child. The teacher recently e-mailed me saying that she would like my child to participate more in class, especially by raising her hand to answer questions. How can I help my daughter conquer her shyness in the classroom? – Too Quiet

Answer: Some children are very outgoing – always raising their hands in class and participating eagerly in classroom discussions. Then there are those, like your daughter, who are on the quiet side. Since your daughter has friends and participates in many activities, shyness is obviously not a serious problem for her. By all means, don't label your child as "shy" or push her to overcome shyness. Doing these things could make shyness a serious problem for her.

There are definitely things that you can do to help your child overcome her shyness. You can praise her when she behaves in an outgoing or friendly manner to others, and you can model more outgoing behavior so she will have a role model for interacting with others.

Of course, you do need to talk to your daughter about the teacher's desire for her to participate more in class. Explain that the teacher is impressed with what a great student your child is and would like her to share her knowledge more with her classmates. You might ask her to make a contribution every day in class. It will be easiest if she does this the first time the teacher asks a question. Then she won't be worrying about when to respond.

Talk with the teacher about strategies to help your daughter, including the one above. She could appoint your daughter as chair of a group and have her read the group's report to the class. Or ask her to read textbook passages in class that answer a specific question.

As your daughter begins to participate more in class, success in non-threatening situations will enable her to feel more confident to speak up in more challenging ones. She needs to learn how to do this now, as she is likely to run into a teacher who grades very strongly on class participation sometime in the future.

Parents should send questions and comments to or ask them on the columnists’ Web site at