Before you resort to tutoring, see if it’s just a rough patch

Overall, if you’ve learned anything from this blog, hopefully it is that tutoring companies are like drug dealers in that both industries really really really like repeat customers. And like drugs, tutoring has a short-term appeal that tends to pull families in deeper, breeding dependence.

Once you’ve gotten a bit of tutoring in Algebra, it sure is tempting to add a science session or two, and pretty soon you’ve got yourself a lot of tutoring going on.  Every once in a while you’ll be tempted to kick, but it’s so hard, especially if the student is your kid.  Like doing chores, your kid is never going to want to quit because they’re getting someone they like to help with homework every week (how wonderful!), so you’ll just end up getting in deeper and deeper, then throwing in a bit of early SAT prep, then Spanish, then history…

My point is, tutoring is a slippery slope.  Especially if money isn’t a major issue.  Heck, even if money is an issue, you can always tell yourself “Well, at least we’re not having to pay for private school” or other rationalizations that help you pony up the next check to the tutoring company.

And like all slippery slopes, the key is to not even start down that path.

Delay.  See if you can get through the rough patch.

Start a study group, go into more office hours, watch videos online.  If it’s your kid: look for videos on Youtube, sign them up for a site like ours.  And just because they tell you they’ve watched videos, that doesn’t mean they actually have.  Your kid’s friends have tutors, so they want one too and will try and talk their way into it.  Sit down and watch the videos with them.  Help them search for their topic.  You may not have any idea what you’re watching, but at least if you’re sitting there you can be sure they’re actually putting in the time!

To improve in math, it’s crucial that the student puts in the time.  Tutoring is a quick fix, but it usually has long-term downsides that can be tricky to beat.

And you never know: it may really just be a single chapter that’s tripping your student up, and once you get through the rough patch things can go back to normal.  Or if you sit down with them for the videos for a couple weeks, they realize they really can figure this stuff out, and from then on they are better students because of it.

So wait before you hire a tutor.  Try Youtube.  Try our videos.  And then, once you’re really really really sure you need a tutor, wait some more.