Written by: Marielle Potvin
Many parents call on academic support providers from the beginning or throughout the course of the school year. Within this context, it is important to know that this market is as yet unregulated. The following tips will guide you through, should you decide to call on tutoring services for your child.
During the past 15 years, the academic support sector has seen a growing number of providers flourish in Quebec. These resources all aim to enhance the school performance of students. Some of them are well-established within their community and offer a wide range of services.
Ads are often published in the newspaper or on websites; that’s how clients get attracted to these services. Before you make a choice, it is important to be well informed on the range and quality of services offered.
Private tutors come to you, in your home, and assist your child all year-round or on an ad hoc basis.
The first step is to be aware of the difference between learning difficulties and learning disability:
Teachers are not always the best people to accurately identify the signs of learning disabilities, which could be at the root of the difficulties experienced by a child. Asking the latter to work harder or study more will do nothing to change the situation; this can only delay the diagnosis needed to assist him effectively in overcoming his academic challenges. Obviously, if your child had a learning disability, his tutor would feel powerless and fail to identify the condition.
Consequently, I recommend doing all that’s possible to eliminate the assumption that your child has a learning disability. This can be done by addressing his needs in remedial education as soon as difficulties are experienced over a period exceeding a few weeks. I have met in my practice a number of children who have undergone years of tutoring without any significant results. I hardly need to elaborate on the engagement level of these children; tutoring is simply not the solution for them.
Additionally, the question arises as to what the main reasons are for calling on these services. For example, a parent unable to oversee a child's homework must adopt an approach that is fundamentally different from that of a parent whose child did poorly on his latest report card. What I mean is that you may determine that some regular homework assistance―the kind you can deliver―is required for your child, although the latter does not experience major academic issues; the services of a tutor, in such a case, may be an excellent choice and come pretty handy for the whole family.
You should make sure your provider hires licensed teachers with the following: Education degree, proof that all mandatory certification tests have been successfully passed (as required by school boards), and preferably few years teaching experience.
Licensed teachers normally know the many ways to provide adequate access to knowledge; they are aware that repeating the same thing, the same way, over and over, is not the right approach. Furthermore, the more extensive training they received puts them in a better position to deal more effectively with children diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or students whose mother tongue is not the language of learning.
Licensed teachers are also in a better position to help your child learn to learn individually. This process, which operates through a number of mental exercises intended to bring about academic success, is key in ensuring sustainable learning skills.
Another major aspect to consider: You should make sure your provider conducts background checks on their teaching staff members. When it comes to your child’s tutor, always ask and check for references and certifications. You may also request from the supplier you are considering a proof of background check performed on the tutor.
Any failure to provide you with satisfactory credentials means that you might want to research further. After all, the tutor you’re about to choose is expected to spend a great deal of time in your home environment with your child; a high level of trust is a must. A tutor with good intentions and integrity will not hesitate to deliver the information requested.
If a provider asks you to sign a contract, make sure to carefully read and review the terms and conditions.
You may ask whether a provider offers academic support and in-service training for education and training staff. In my opinion, this is one of the most important aspects, given that the ones on the receiving end are failing students or children at risk of failure in one or more subjects.
At your prior consent, collaborative discussions between the teacher and the tutor can be arranged. This level of joint effort can be quite useful in helping your child achieve quicker progress.
Once tutoring is scheduled and sessions have begun, I suggest that you stick around the house throughout the entire duration of each mentoring period. Moreover, it is your responsibility to ensure minimum distraction and work disruption while tutoring is in progress.
So the choice is yours! Figuring out the needs of your family and the challenges your child is facing is the key to making an enlightened decision.
I hope this article has shed some light on how to approach the question of academic support. Therefore, I’ve included below a few links in connection with learning disabilities, a condition which affects to some degree 10% of the children, according to the Association québécoise des troubles de l’apprentissage (Quebec Learning Disabilities Association).
I wish you all an excellent school year!
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