School work can present stress for some families. Tutoring may help.
Laguna Hills resident Shawn Moh and his wife were spending hours a week after work and on Sundays helping their two teens with school work.
They decided to sign them up for tutoring so their kids could have a resource to help them achieve the grades and success they wanted.
“My kids are very smart, dedicated and hardworking, and a tutor just helps reinforce more difficult concepts and allows them to maintain their competitiveness,” he said. “They acquire more academic stimulus than just studying on their own. Frankly, most of my kids’ classmates have tutors and it’s a very useful thing to have. With college admissions so difficult, any increase in grades makes a difference.”
Besides better grades, there may be another benefit for families who have a good tutor—less stress.
“Tutoring can largely only have a positive impact on family wellness—assuming you work with a great tutor of course,” said Adam Sadri, founder and CEO at TutorNerd (tutornerd.com) headquartered in Irvine. “Most people tend to think about tutoring in terms of improving grades and greater college admission opportunities—and yes that can make everyone in a family more positive. But the stress of school can have much more subtle effects.”
As an example, he says to imagine a student who is always struggling with a subject while his or her friends are excelling in that same subject.
“Over time, that can really damage a student’s confidence—in school and outside of school—stressing his relationship with his friends, and even cause worry in concerned parents,” he said. “Perhaps the most common concern we run into is that students are staying up late every night, with tons of homework and extracurriculars, and being confused about their assignments. Not only are there problems with insufficient sleep—for the student and the parents—but again we have an issue of the snowball of a lack of self-confidence. A tutor can really help alleviate that.”
He said there are many students and families who sincerely want to do well, but just aren’t familiar with the subject material.
“And so what happens is they try to figure that out on their own,” he said. “A tutor knows the material and can save students all that time. … There are a lot of demands on students and it can be truly overwhelming. That’s why it’s ideal to work with a tutoring company with a lot of resources, tutors in multiple subject areas, knowledgeable staff, etc.”
Of course not all tutors are created equal. Sadri suggests asking if the tutor has been assessed as an instructor, and if the tutor can accommodate a student’s individual style of learning.
“Many families focus on making sure tutors know the material,” he said. “That is, of course, vital, but just as important is that tutors know how to teach effectively. Do you know how you’ve had boring teachers in school? Tutoring can be just like that if you don’t work with someone who is engaging and can present the material in a way that a student can grasp.”
He said one important thing to remember when it comes to education-related stress is to realize that no one thing is the make or break of a student’s academic success.
“A bad grade on a test? That’s feedback that you need to adjust your study strategies,” he said. “SAT score wasn’t as high as you hoped? That doesn’t mean you can’t get into a good college.”
Along those lines, he said that students often think that an academic setback means they are failures in life.
“Students and parents need to realize that what produces success is not the grade on the test tomorrow, but rather the skill of learning itself,” he said. “Learning how to learn is one of the most valuable traits you can develop by working with a tutor.”
JSerra Catholic High School in San Juan Capistrano’s Director of College Counseling Olivia Huie said counseling includes keeping the student on the right academic path, which may involve tutoring.
“If students and their families decide that a private tutor is the way to go, do interview at least three tutors. Ask about pricing, tutoring style, credibility and availability,” she said. “Don’t go with the first tutor you interview. … Do ask for referrals from friends who are currently getting tutoring help. Peers can help students understand if the tutor is a fit for their learning style and if they are finding success with their tutor.”
Huie said that even if you find a great tutor, class time and working with a teacher is still important.
“Don’t just rely on your tutor to teach the material or else you’ll skip out on truly paying attention in class,” she said.
By Jessica Peralta