How to choose the right tutor for your child

It’s a familiar scenario for parents: your child is struggling with a school subject, or you decide they need additional enrichment. Given your own busy schedule, you find that an outside tutor is your best option.

Once the decision to hire a tutor is made, you have to actually find one. If you’ve never gone through the process before, it can quickly become both overwhelming and confusing. There are so many considerations: What qualifications should you look for? What makes a good tutor? Will my child and the tutor get along? What if I make the wrong choice?

While it can seem like a huge burden at the onset, there are specific factors you can look for to make this process easy and the transition into tutoring smooth.

Evaluate the experience of potential tutors

Your tutor doesn’t have to be a former teacher, but he or she does need a good amount of experience working with students of different ages and learning styles. This could come in a variety of forms: tutoring experience, teaching experience, or volunteer experience.

When you first meet with your tutor, make sure they can tell you how they have effectively worked with students with different learning styles. For example, if your child learns kinesthetically (by doing), sitting at a table and drilling flash cards will not be an effective teaching method. Similarly, if your child learns best by listening, walking around and writing will not be effective. Make sure your tutor is a good match for your child’s unique learning style.

It’s also important to make sure the tutor can not just convey facts but also help your child build their critical thinking skills and higher order thinking. This can include creative projects that synthesize learned information, answering higher level thinking skills that ask for evaluation and evidence, or by offering an opinion backed up with facts. Not only do these methods make material more interesting for students, they increase valuable critical thinking skills that will be vital to their future in schooling.

Look for a breadth of knowledge

Not only should a qualified tutor have tutoring experience, but they should also have a wide range of experience, both with age range and with subject matter.

It’s important to find a tutor that can teach more than one grade, preferably a range of at least 3 grades. This vertical perspective can help the tutor understand where your child may be experiencing learning gaps while also having an understanding of where the curriculum (and the tutoring program) will go in the future.

Even if your child is struggling in just one subject, it’s helpful to find a tutor proficient in teaching in more than one area (in particular, both reading and math). An integrated approach to tutoring that incorporates multiple subjects simultaneously will help your child approach critical thinking from an interdisciplinary view.

Additionally, any technique a tutor uses should be research-based and backed by data that shows its effectiveness. Don’t be afraid to ask your tutor about the research behind their methods! Continue reading “How to choose the right tutor for your child”

FREE Video Training for Parents – Help your child think and focus!

Is your child frustrated with common core math or lacks attention and focus in school? Critical thinking skills can help. On February 9th the first parent training video will be released but you must be registered to receive the notifications. I’ll explain the “what” and “why” of critical thinking including it’s potential for academic motivation in preschoolers, struggling students and gifted learners.

Then we’ll review assumptions that prevent parents from fostering (and children from gaining) “good thinking” experiences, and the impacts of these pitfalls on a child’s ability to focus. build their attention span to develop strong reading skills and math number sense.

The last video will give you some quick & easy tips to implement into your already (time-strapped) busy schedule. If you are interested in this training, just click here to you’ll be signed up to be notified when the videos are ready.

How do you respond when your child asks: “Am I Stupid?”

Many parents and teachers dread their child asking this question, and it can be an intimidating one to answer. If disregarded, it can allow the child to internalize a negative self-belief. If approached with care and consideration, it can become a powerful, teachable moment and lead to valuable dialogue. As a result, the child can learn how to not only think of themselves in a more positive light, but also how to think critically about how they learn.

Here are a few talking points to facilitate this tough conversation:

Reflect on the power of perseverance

Author, professor, and researcher Carol Dweck often speaks of the “growth mindset.” In short, this refers to intelligence that expands (or grows) over time. Rather than looking at someone’s inherent ability to solve a problem, the growth mindset focuses on the effort put in.

When a child asks if they are stupid, remind them that no one is stupid, and everyone has room to grow if they take the time and put in the effort. It’s important to emphasize here that while your child might not know something, that doesn’t put it outside of their realm of possibility. It just means they don’t know it YET. This can teach them the power of persevering to learn a new skill.

Encourage your child to abandon the phrase “I can’t do this,” instead asking for help or finding areas to improve. Ask open-ended questions that allow them to explore the challenge in a new way, thinking about it critically.

Model how to manage frustration

Growth takes time and effort. As adults, we know this, but when a child is struggling to learn a new skill it can quickly become upsetting. Showing your child how to acknowledge and manage this frustration is key to facilitating growth and helping them feel capable.

Some helpful strategies include deep breathing, physical breaks, and brief distractions. Something as simple as going for a walk or singing a silly song can provide the mental break needed to lower frustration levels and work through challenging situations.

Modeling this for your child is also helpful. When you find yourself in frustrating situations, take the time to emulate these strategies. Then you can use yourself as an example when your child calls their intelligence into question, acknowledging that even you become frustrated and must take certain steps to alleviate the negative feelings.

Teach your child that “smart” looks different in different people

Every person learns differently, and taking the time to explain this to your child can help them grapple with their own doubts around their intelligence.

Emphasize with your child that everyone has that which comes naturally to them and that which they struggle with. Taking the problem and approaching it in a new way can open up new possibilities for understanding.

Additionally, “smart” doesn’t just mean getting perfect grades on math tests; it could mean being a skilled puzzle-solver, having a knack for building, or always being able to make your friends laugh. There are many paths to success and many ways to absorb and act upon new information.

Take the time to uncover your child’s learning style by taking our quiz. This will help you figure out how your child learns most naturally and will allow you to adjust course when needed.

Remind them that everyone is a learner

Along the same lines as multiple learning styles, the idea that everyone is a learner is something to share with your child as well. Children need to see that the adults in their lives make mistakes too, and this helps them understand that everyone is learning.

Model a growth mindset for your child: instead of saying “I’m bad at this,” say, “Wow! This is something I could really use more practice with.” Showing your own vulnerabilities can be difficult, but it helps your children to relate to the idea that everyone struggles with something and everyone can improve.

Many children wonder if they are stupid from time to time, but if your child chooses to ask you this loaded question, remind them of the power of perseverance! Tell them that everyone is a learner and that people are all strong and weak in different ways. These messages along with some strategies for managing frustration will result in meaningful conversations that can change children’s’ mindsets for years to come.

Avoid A Back To School Breakdown

Avoid a Back-to-School Breakdown

How to successfully transition from summertime to school-time.

For many of you, summer is drawing to a close. You’re bracing yourself for the end of summer, while children eek out their last few days home. Some of you may already have returned to the busy routine of sack lunches and school buses.

Regardless, this time of year can be stressful. There seems to be more to do than there is time in the day, and it can be hard to part with your child after having them home all summer. Young learners pick up on this, and they often approach the beginning of the school year with mixed emotions. If your child is back in the classroom, you may have already noticed some anxiety on their part.

Whether you’re kissing your child goodbye at the bus stop or still hunting down the perfect lunch box, I’ve been there. Every year I face the same stressors, and I implement new tactics to make it easier. Today I want to share with you my three top tips to making a successful transition from summertime to school-time (for everyone involved).

Ease back into a routine

There’s a good chance your summer routine is drastically different from your school-year routine, and the same goes for young children. Summertime tends to be less structured and the activities tend to be less academic in nature. Even if a child spends ample time engaged in critical thinking activities, there’s a good chance they were formatted differently from those during the school year.

Because of this, it’s important to slowly ease back into the school-year routine. Take time to practice waking up and going to bed earlier, and begin organizing your day around a more structured schedule. Your mind and body will both thank you.

This is also a good time to create systems of organization around the school year. Reflect on the previous year and think about how you could better arrange your day. Decide on a few small modifications that will help you stay on top of all your responsibilities.

Create an atmosphere of excitement

So often the idea of returning to school is met with groans of unhappiness instead of anticipation. To help young learners reclaim their excitement, emphasize the amount of fun they will have. As a parent, take time to integrate learning games into the day, so students are already accustomed to the practice.

If you’re a teacher, integrating ample play time that allows for critical thinking practice will help students look forward to their time in your classroom. Not only that, but students who play more are given a chance to discover more. They internalize concepts through the act of playing, and are able to naturally investigate a wide variety of concepts.

Give students a say

It can be easy for children to feel as if they have no control over their life, especially in the beginning of the school year. They’re being told where to go, what to learn, and how to spend their time. Often they are limited in the amount of discovery time they have, and as a result, it becomes difficult for them to take ownership of their learning.

To resolve this, make a habit of asking young learners open-ended questions. Give them opportunities to make small decisions, such as which backpack to buy or what game to play, in a structured environment. Parents and teachers both can practice this, and will find that engaging students in conversation rather than simply issuing demands actually makes them more efficient learners.

Don’t forget to have fun! Your attitude is contagious.

If you’re miserable, odds are your students or children will pick up on it. So as you settle into a new school year, keep your own mood in mind. By settling slowly into a routine, making school something to anticipate excitedly, and giving students a say in what happens you’re setting the stage for an exciting school year.

What are you most looking forward to this year?