Deb Krupowicz">

Ask the Teacher

My daughter has several friends whose parents have hired tutors. Some concepts seem tough for my child at school, but I have never thought of hiring a tutor. Should I?

Every student should have some experience mastering tough concepts. Learning should be hard much of the time – it requires some struggle and even frustration at various points. When parents see this kind of tension, they can become anxious; concerned that their child is not capable of meeting the challenge on their own. Eager to alleviate any anxiety their child is experiencing, they see hiring a tutor as the right answer.

If a child always struggles with academics, a relationship with a tutor may provide a sense of security for the child and a ready partner for the parent. Parents with demanding professional commitments may find that having a tutor help with school work allows them extra time to focus on recreational activities with their child. Specific needs of a student may require a tutor’s expertise.

Most students, however, develop the perseverance needed to face challenging academic tasks independently. For some, the struggle becomes a deterrent to progress. If your daughter is having trouble advancing at the rate her teacher believes is appropriate for her age, and you have tried unsuccessfully to close that gap, a tutor may be a reasonable solution. Only consider a tutor if you and your daughter’s teacher see it as an answer for your daughter’s specific situation, not because others have hired one.

My second grader’s teacher has a “bucket-filler” incentive program in the classroom where kids write down compliments for their classmates and put them in the students’ buckets. My child has not received any compliments in her bucket even though her teacher says that she is quiet, courteous and cheerful. What can I do to keep my daughter from feeling disappointed?

Your child’s teacher is certainly committed to nurturing positive attributes in kids as well as encouraging them to see the good in others. She may have implemented this program in an effort to recognize the favorable traits of students who are often only singled out for negative reasons, for example, trouble behaving in school. It may not have occurred to her that well-behaving students might be overlooked. This is certainly something that you should approach her about.

 

At this point in the year, the teacher should be able to identify a special person in the classroom who could write a compliment for your daughter. She could initiate the compliment by saying something to her subtly like, “Have you noticed that Amy gets quiet right away when I ask for the class’s attention?” or “I wonder if anyone has complimented Amy; she comes in each morning with such a cheerful attitude.” It may require her to plant some ideas that the student would, in turn, notice and acknowledge. Even suggesting to the class some quieter behaviors to be on the look-out for might shift the focus of the students to your daughter and others who are doing what they should be quietly and out of the public eye.

 

What can I do to help prepare my son for all the tests that he has to take in the spring? I am not a big test advocate, but I want him to be able to do his best. Are there things we should be practicing at home?

Leave the academic preparation to the school and your child’s teachers. They will provide activities and practice to support the curriculum that will be tested. There are several things that you can do as a parent, however, to help ensure that he is ready to show what he knows.

First and foremost, be sure that your child is getting plenty of rest. It is not enough to go to bed early the night before the test, but that helps! Make sure that he is consistently getting enough sleep to function at his best every day. Establishing that habit well before testing time will have him in the routine, increasing the likelihood that he will awake rested and be alert.

His morning routine should allow ample time to get ready for the day at a relaxed pace and to eat a good breakfast. Plan breakfast to be a pleasant time to help set the stage for a great day. Serve your son’s favorites, with focus on something that will stick with him until lunch.

Give your son a pep talk! Emphasize your confidence in him and your interest in seeing him show others what he has learned. Suggest a few calming techniques if he seems nervous. Taking a deep breath before starting the test or repeating a phrase in his head like “I can do this!” may help diminish his nerves and pave the way for a great result.

 

Ask the Teacher is written by Deb Krupowicz, a mother of four and current teacher. Deb holds a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction and has over twenty years of experience teaching preschool, elementary and middle school students. Please send your questions to her at [email protected]

 

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