Hiring the right tutor is the first and most important step in helping your child. In a prior blog entitled, “Choosing a Reading Tutor,” I pointed out what you should look for when interviewing a tutor to make sure this is the right match for you and your child. This is a partnership, and you must choose wisely if you want to see progress. This blog is about YOUR role and responsibilities for achieving success. You must be willing to be the “guide on the side” to ensure your child gets the most out of each tutoring session. Here are ten helpful tips to keep in mind:
- Show up on time. Your child should know that this block of time is valuable.
- Stay focused and on topic. Conversations should pertain to the skill or activity. Refrain from cell phone use. Use your phone to take notes or photographs to remember how to reinforce the skill being taught.
- Make sure your child drinks water and eats a healthy, light meal before arrival. Performance is affected by how we fuel our bodies. Bring a water bottle to keep your child hydrated. Eating food during the session should be discouraged. Food becomes a distraction.
- Your child should come fully rested and ready to work.
- Be diligent about the home practice assignments. Repetition is the key to building strong connections in the brain and creating different pathways for learning. If you want to see results, practice! Just make sure you practice correctly. Incorrect practice will make the wrong strategies stick! Practice makes permanent!
- Practice should be brief and often. Practice for no more than 25 minutes, and then take a 5 minute “brain break.” Daily, targeted practice is crucial.
- Encourage your child to stay focused on the process, not the end result. After setting goals, stay committed to the practice. A deliberate, focused effort is in your control. Do not worry about the outcome. Improvement will naturally happen with focused practice.
- Be a role model for being in the “now.” Children will learn mindfulness from their caretakers. Why is this important? When we worry about results, our minds wander. We perform better when we release worry and just give our attention to what we are doing in the moment. Let your child know that “mind wandering” is normal. Tell your child to notice it and do not get upset. Model how you bring your attention back to the task at hand. Releasing stress helps to learn the material.
- Model patience and have a positive attitude. Energy is contagious. Be enthusiastic and trust the process. Children with a growth mindset are positive and believe that change is possible with hard work. They don’t give up easily.
- Ask the tutor questions if you are confused. When we know better, we do better. A knowledgeable tutor should be able to clearly articulate what you need to know and why. You should fully understand the development of skills involved in reaching the desired goal.
Faith Borkowsky, Founder and Lead Educational Consultant of High Five Literacy and Academic Coaching, is a Certified Wilson Dyslexia Practitioner, is Orton-Gillingham trained, and has extensive training and experience in a number of other research-based, peer-reviewed programs that have produced positive gains for students with dyslexia, auditory processing disorder, ADD/ADHD, and a host of learning difficulties. Her book, Reading Intervention Behind School Walls: Why Your Child Continues to Struggle, is available on Amazon. See information on her book and an interview with Ms. Borkowsky at https://highfiveliteracy.com/book/