Tutoring—Beyond Helping With Homework
One of the most common questions I am asked as a tutor is if I can help students with their homework—and many parents are surprised to learn that my answer to this question is not a clear cut “yes.” The goal of my tutoring sessions is to assess each student’s grasp of the area of study, and identify the skills and concepts that must be developed to improve their performance. Often, this requires focusing not on the current homework, but strengthening the understanding of the key concepts required to learn. For example, we all learned to sing the A, B, C’s before we began to read or write. Without that catchy tune, reading and writing would have been far more difficult to grasp. I take a similar approach to my tutoring, and aim to develop skills so students won’t need help with their homework.
Every child is unique. Some students excel athletically, while others excel artistically. Some students excel in reading, but not in math or science. It’s just a plain and simple fact that not all children will excel equally in every area of academic study. I believe there are, at least, seven types of intelligence. (For more on this, please read 7 Kinds of Smart by Thomas Armstrong)
By personalizing learning, I can reteach the concepts required to improve performance in the subjects your child has room to improve. Think of this as you would build a foundation for a home. With a proper foundation, a home can be built many stories high. Without a greater understanding of the basic concepts of the concepts upon which they need to build, your student cannot further their learning.
Improved Confidence and Self-Esteem
Students spend most of their waking hours during the week at school. Even if a student is struggling in one area of study, the impact on their confidence and self-esteem can be damaging. Many kids hold themselves to extremely high expectations, and when they cannot grasp a concept that it seems like everyone else is able to comprehend—they beat themselves up. They may even begin to believe they are stupid.
My goal is always to celebrate each student’s unique strengths and intelligence. I use multisensory tutoring to present concepts to students in a way that is easy for them to process.
Fun Fact: Thomas Edison didn’t learn to talk until he was almost 4, or read until he was 7—but he was an innovator who had a brilliant mind!
Some students grasp the concepts they have learned, but have such extreme anxiety about their knowledge that they subsequently underperform. When a student is constantly questioning their comprehension, it can lead to extreme levels of stress and anxiety. Whether speaking of performance anxiety, test anxiety, or any other learning anxiety—I will help each student to recognize their strengths, and learn the study skills, and testing skills, required for success.
Fun, Multisensory Learning
Classroom sizes are large, meaning that teachers must design their lesson plans around a teaching style that “most” students will respond to. However, what if your student doesn’t fall into the “most” category? Or what if they don’t learn at the same pace? This certainly doesn’t mean they are not smart or capable, but only that the teaching methods are not a good fit.
My multisensory style of tutoring is based on neuroscience evidence. It has been called “brain based learning.” It incorporates the student’s sensory needs as well as their preferences. When providing math tutoring, I use Mortensen More Than Math® which is based on the Montessori Method.
A multisensory approach to learning activates more areas of the brain which improves understanding and retention. “Multi-sensory education gives students the skills to process information and develop strategies and critical thinking, rather than simply relying on memorization alone, which does not allow students to engage their brains, and apply the knowledge they are learning in the classroom to everyday situations and challenges.” (Ben Shifrin, Baltimore Sun, Feb. 2, 2011)
By making my tutoring sessions interactive, learning becomes fun. When learning is fun, information is easier to retain. I find ways to blend hands-on learning with visual and auditory learning. I find creative comparisons and age-appropriate examples that students can relate to when learning.
It has been years since you were in school, and your retention of each topic of study may not be where it needs to be to help your kids with their school work—but not to worry. Whether you homeschool your children, or your children go to public school, I can teach your child the concepts you don’t feel confident in teaching. This will take the stress out of school work for you, and will ensure that your child understands the content. It is a win/win for you both!
Many of the students I tutor have learning differences or disabilities. Whether your child has a 504 Plan, and IEP, or just doesn’t “click” with the way their teacher presents content, one-on-one, multisensory tutoring can be an effective way to help students. A 2015 study from Stanford University, published in the journal Nature Communications*, found one-on-one tutoring improved math performance in children with learning disabilities and also normalized brain activity in several regions important for numerical problem solving.
My goal is to work with classroom teachers to create a continuum of learning. This means offering the accommodations and supports a student receives in school while providing a multisensory learning experience.
Above are some areas where tutoring can be of most benefit to students, but there are certainly many more reasons to consider tutoring. If you have any other questions about tutoring and how it can be used to help your student excel, feel free to reach out to me.