Tutoring: Catching Up or Jumping Ahead?

The market for private tutoring is booming like never before, with students all around the country gaining access to tutors like never before and taking advantage of those new opportunities. There are many reasons that one might seek out the help of a tutor and that is why it is such a huge industry. The type of tutoring that most people probably think of, especially because it is one of the most common, is test prep. This form of tutoring is specifically designed to help you get ready for the SAT or ACT, which is the most competitive and stressful test that you will take in high school. With so much on the line when it comes to your test score, parents are constantly trying to find ways to make sure that their kids can get ahead. The recent Operation Varsity Blues scandal where celebrities and other wealthy individuals used bribes to fake scholarships was just another example of the lengths that parents take to help their children get ahead of the rest. This attitude can be dangerous though and this is the dark side of the tutoring industry. This is the side that can be great for the right kids, but can also put unneeded pressure on kids before they are ready to advance.

The much more common form of tutoring that parents use for their kids is not the one that helps them speed way ahead, but the one that helps them catch back up and fill in the gaps in knowledge that are holding them back. With so much pressure to be part of the group that is on the fast track, school systems are advancing more students to high levels of math, science, and English, but not all of them are ready for it. I remember tutoring a 2nd grade student in math that had been placed in 3rd grade math by his school. He was way behind the class and was failing every assignment. I happened to know the teacher of the math class he should have been in and she told me that he never should have been sent forward. It was not a knock on him or an indication that he was not a good math student, but the pressure from the school and peers put him at a level he was not ready for. Working with me, we got him to a place where he was at least able to stay on pace, instead of falling further behind.

Whatever your goal is for tutoring, the end result is that you want to help your student achieve their dreams. No student should have to feel like they are worse off than their peers and many are not, even if the school makes them think that way. With extra help, you might get back on a track that takes you far beyond your peers rather than the path that you think you are taking toward failure. The right tutor can fill in the blanks to help you grow.