What should I look for in a tutor?

You have decided that you should hire a tutor for your child. Where should you go from there? How do you find a reputable tutor? If no one recommends one to you, what should you be looking for in a tutor?

First place to look for a tutor is through referrals. Talk to your friends – do any of them use the services of a tutor? If so, do they recommend the person? Ask specific questions – does the tutor assess the new student? Do they liaise with the classroom teacher(s), etc. I will post a list of things to look for at the bottom of this page.

Next, speak to your child’s teacher. Perhaps they are able to recommend a good tutor. The best tutors have a relationship with the classroom teacher, to ensure that they are all working “on the same page”. Get the tutor’s information from the classroom teacher.

Failing that, search online for tutors in your area. The best will show up in your Google search. See if they have a website. Check it out. Give the tutor a call. Perhaps set up an “interview” with the tutor. Any tutor who is reputable will gladly meet with you to discuss your needs, and to show you how they are able to meet those needs successfully. Take your child to meet with the tutor before you commit, as you can watch how the adult interacts with your child. Ask for references. Check them out!!

Things to ask the potential tutor:

  1. Are you a certified teacher?
  2. What did you teach?
  3. Do you provide all necessary equipment?
  4. Where do you meet? May I check out the space?
  5. May I meet you? May my child meet with you before we make a commitment.
  6. Do you provide weekly reports or feedback?
  7. Do you work in conjunction with the classroom teacher?
  8. Do you assess and then program for your students accordingly?
  9. Do you provide a written plan?

Ask all of these questions. If you have, and still aren’t sure, drop me a line. We can “chat”.


Summer Holidays

Well, it’s finally summer! A time to kick back and relax. Or is it?

Many students regress somewhat over the summer months – some more than others. If your child struggled to make academic and social gains this year, is it a good idea to “reward” them with 2 months off?

Perhaps we should look at this quandary.  Many students need extra time to consolidate their lessons of the school year. An informal meeting once weekly for an hour, with a tutor, to reinforce the past year’s lessons can be an excellent thing. It may even boost their self-confidence, which is a great thing for the upcoming academic year.

Some students struggled throughout the previous academic year. For them, 2-3 hours weekly with specific learning outcomes is beneficial.

Try to find an experienced teacher, who is able to look at the June report card and “read between the lines”, thereby enabling them to program appropriately for your student.

Remember that summer tutoring can be fun as well as educational. Give a tutor a call today!


Well, another year is coming close to the end. The ever-popular March Break is underway. Many parents wonder if their children should have a break throughout the week, or if they should provide lessons for their children to keep on top of things. In the higher grades, teachers often assign enough homework to keep the children occupied for most of the holidays. A bit of work each day should get all of that work done by the end of the holiday. Younger children can benefit from the break. However, incidental learning – reading, math in the car, and day trips – will also keep their minds engaged, so that heading back to school isn’t so difficult.

Bottom line:

How to help the older, reluctant student

Many students, especially in middle school and high school, become very disinterested in school. How, as a parent, do you re-engage them?

First, try to discover the reason that they are not interested in school. As a parent, the communication around school is pretty much ongoing. A theme will have emerged over time. “I hate my teacher”, “The kids make fun of me”, “I am stupid”, “School is boring” are just a few. Today, I want to address the issues of “I am stupid” or “School is boring” – realizing that these may be expressing the same thing.

If a student feels that he/she is not able to keep up with the class, then it is often vocalized in one of those two ways. With the intense curriculum, teachers are often forced to keep on pushing through subjects that many/most of the students have not grasped. Unfortunately, these skills which are not mastered, are often building blocks for future skills. And so it goes. In time, students can be totally confused, feel stupid and/or state that they are bored. Boredom frequently is another way of stating “I feel inept/embarrassed”.

What to do? Well, if your child is willing, (and if you are able), now is the time to sit with them and work backwards. Where is it that their knowledge has become weak? What are the missing skills. If this is not an option, this is a great time for a tutor!!! Trained people who are “outside” and have no preconceived ideas of the student are often the best source of help for these students.

Next time: What you (and your child) should expect from a tutor.

How should children’s skills be maintained over the summer?

You and your child worked hard over the course of this school year. Work habits have been solidified. Reading skills have been honed. Math facts have been memorized. Now, the long break looms ahead. How do you keep this upward trend going??? Neither you nor your child wish to spend a lot of time huddled over books. Frankly, everyone deserves a break.

How do you keep the positive skills going, without overtly working on them? For young children, it is easier than for older students. Always read environmental words – signs on the road, in the store, etc. Easily made flash cards – using index cards from the dollar store – are great for introducing new words. Bedtime stories are a good way to challenge your young child to keep up their reading skills. Rhyming words, what letter does “_____” start with, etc. can all be played as games in the car.

Math can be done the same way with young children. “Please set the table for 4 people” and similar instructions can make math slip into a day. Quick drill questions while walking or driving somewhere can keep your child’s skills sharp.

Next time, we will discuss how to help older students.

What should I do when my child doesn’t want to go to school?

While all children at some time or other don’t want to go to school, with some children it becomes a real issue. How does a parent deal with a child who genuinely does not want to go to school? The first thing to do is to speak to your child. Is there a bully at school? Is there a test today? Do they owe overdue homework? Do they have problems with their teacher? Some children really have a school phobia. Some children really do not want to leave their parent at home. Some children just don’t like school. If the child cannot verbalize the reasons for not wanting to go to school, then the next step is to speak to the teacher. Is there a problem in the classroom? Is there unfinished work hanging over the child’s head? Is there a conflict with another child or teacher? Again, if there is no apparent reason, then a meeting with the school resource team is in order. At that meeting, a plan must be developed to encourage the child to attend school. Perhaps a quiet place – like the resource room – to sit for a few minutes at the beginning of the day, until they are ready to go to their classroom. Perhaps an activity that they like at the beginning of the day – e.g. quiet reading time. This time away from the class will be in place for a couple of weeks until the child becomes more at ease at school. Hopefully, with team work, your child will be able to face their dislike of going to school.

What can I do when my child doesn’t like his teacher? Part 2

We have established that your child does not like his/her teacher.  We have decided, through an interview with the teacher, that there is no real cause for the dislike. Or perhaps there is. What do you as a parent do now? First step for some parents is to ask the principal to change their child’s class. While this can be a solution, it is not necessarily the best one. Yes, it gets your child out of the disliked teacher’s room. However, what lesson does that teach your child? If there is not an abusive situation going on, I would recommend considering not asking for a move. The lesson that the chld can take from this could be damaging in the long run. There has been no attempt made to deal with the real issue at hand. Children need to learn that there are sometimes people that they will not like. That does not mean they will not have to interact with them. Instead, they need to learn methods of coping in a classroom with a teacher they do not like. Find ways to face the issue. Have the teacher speak to the child and see if there is a misunderstanding about the teacher’s demeanour. Some teachers are not “warm and fuzzy” and children take a while to warm up to them. Putting your child into a different classroom does not give them the opportunity to learn a life lesson. Work with the teacher, and turn a negative experience into a more positive one for everyone. Tomorrow I will discuss what to do if staying in the classroom negatively impacts your child’s behaviour and learning.

What to do when your child dislikes his/her teacher

Your child comes home from school one day complaining that the teacher picks on him/her. What is the correct reaction? As protective parents, our first inclination is to storm into the school. Instead, listen carefully to what your child is saying. See if you can figure out what is going on. If that doesn’t work and the problem escalates to the child saying that they hate the teacher, the teacher hates them, or becoming reluctant to go to school, then it’s time to have a meeting with the teacher. Be frank with them, citing examples that your child has given you. If you are satisfied with the teacher’s explanation, or if you feel good about the interaction, go home and discuss it with your child. Tomorrow I’ll outline some ideas of what you can do if the meeting doesn’t dispel your concerns.

They will never forget…

“…They will never forget how you made them feel.” As a former teacher, a parent and a tutor, those words resonate with me.  How often do you hear your child say that they cannot do something, with total despair in their voice? Then, when you sit down with them to address the issue, you (and they) discover that, in fact, they can do it!! All they lacked was the belief that they COULD do it!! The beauty of a student working in a small group within the classroom, or being withdrawn to go to the resource room for extra help, or of going to a tutor, is that the extra attention that they get is often all that they need to build up their self-esteem.  So many of the parents and the teachers of students I see report to me the gain in self-confidence that they see quickly in their children.  That gain leads children to believe that they CAN do something, which in turn makes them much more open to learning how to do it. It’s a wonderful thing!!!