Two years ago, Mazzy started struggling in math, which became obvious to us based on her reaction to her math homework every night. We essentially spent the entire evening yelling at her while she procrastinated, and then trying to ease her stress when she finally sat down to do it. Also, since Mike and I both learned math differently as kids, we felt ill-equipped to help her. I didn’t want to complicate things by teaching her the wrong strategies. Our evenings were supposed to be quality family time together, and instead, it was just a homework battle from dinner up until bedtime every single night.
In short, it SUCKED.
Her teachers said to wait until the first parent teacher conference to see how she was doing, but I saw her quickly losing confidence, and in my mind, the sooner we nipped that in the bud, the better. We decided to get her a tutor. There was no harm in extra help beyond the expense, whereas waiting could be risking her falling even further behind.
The process of finding the right person was not that easy. We had a few recommendations from the school. I interviewed them over the phone and I remember my first pick disputed the school’s teaching style and said she couldn’t help. When I was selecting someone, I also had to make sure our schedules matched up, which is harder than it sounds. In the end, only one person met all the criteria. Mazzy met with her, and although she would hide under the bed when it was time for her lesson, she improved pretty quickly.
After a few months, we stopped the sessions because Mazzy was in a much better place. The tutor increased Mazzy’s math confidence, eased homework tensions at home, helped her retain old math skills and prepared her for what was to come, so when the teacher introduced a new math concept, it wasn’t too overwhelming. I also found that a lot of Mazzy’s friends had tutors, so there didn’t seem to be as much of a stigma attached to getting extra help as I remember from my childhood.
This positive experience helped us the following year, when we noticed that Harlow was struggling with reading. She has trouble with symbol recognition and although she remembers all the rules, the actual shape of the letters sometimes confuse her. Sometimes she will go to extra steps to figure out words, which seems almost harder to memorize than the shape of the letters. For instance, she will sometimes recall the spot on the wall, the picture and the sound to ultimately come up with the letter name. We went through the same process of asking the school for recommendations and then went through the same interview process to find someone with the right skill set, demeanor and availability. Now, Harlow sees her once a week.
Towards the end of last year, we started to see signs that Mazzy was falling behind in math again, so we restarted sessions with her old math tutor. Unfortunately, it was really close to the end of the year, so we didn’t get much time in before she went away to camp.
This past summer was tricky, because as much as I wanted to keep up their sessions so they were prepared for school, we were out at the house and I had no idea how to find the right tutors, or any tutors at all out there. We weren’t affiliated with the local schools and we don’t know many families who are there year round. We asked around and ultimately decided to have Harlow’s old kindergarten teacher tutor both of them. She was traveling in July (while Mazzy was away at camp), but we got lucky, because she happened to be staying near us in August, so the girls were able to get a few sessions in before school started.
Now that we are back at school, Harlow is picking back up with her reading specialist. Harlow adores her, so that makes things easy. I think Harlow just really thrives on one-on-one attention from an adult. Mazzy is much more resistant to spending time with a tutor, so I told her we could see how it goes and if we need to, try someone new.
Towards the very end of the summer, a new tutoring company named Gooroo reached out to me. Gooroo is different from other tutoring companies in that they do not subscribe to one method of teaching. They believe that all children learn differently and need to be matched with the right tutor for them. They offer a membership and matching model, where members have access to Gooroos who are experts in over 300 subjects, all in one place. In addition to tutors, Gooroo provides students and parents with continuous feedback, progress reports, and a designated “Personal Learning Consultant,” who’s there to guide you through any issues that arise or additional feedback that you might need. Ultimately you get access to a lot more information about your child’s learning progress than you do from a school report card and parent teacher conferences twice a year.
I filled out the questionnaire about Mazzy, which included what subject she needed help in, questions about how she likes to learn, location and availability. We were matched pretty quickly to a grad student at NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering. She agreed to meet at my office, which was much more convenient than taking her home after school or going to a tutoring facility.
Mazzy really liked her and I could see immediately that her style and personality was much more aligned with Mazzy than her previous tutor. She was also very good at keeping Mazzy focused on the work. At the end of the session, Mazzy said she liked her and would like to use her again. That was HUGE. Unfortunately, Mazzy’s schedule switched around since that first week of school (she opted to take chorus on Mondays) so now we are trying someone else through Gooroo that fits with our new timing. I just accessed our account on the site, input my scheduling conflict and lined up a new match up for next week.
Since you get a family plan with Gooroo, you can apply your hours towards either kid, get matched with someone new if you don’t like your match (first session is refunded) and switch which subjects you apply your hours to. So, if Mazzy starts excelling in math, I can take those hours and apply them towards a different subject or maybe towards reading for Harlow. Mazzy found out that Gooroo offers private coding tutoring and now she’s begging me to apply her hours to that too.
Visit Gooroo Tutors today to start a membership and see how they can help your child. To make the most of your sessions, I asked Gooroo if they could give me a few tips on how to find your kid the right tutor:
1. Find a tutor that can teach.
While there are a lot of people who are smart, not everyone can teach. Parents often make the mistake of finding a tutor that just has the correct academic specifications. However, they don’t realize that the tutor doesn’t actually have a clear and direct teaching style. Make sure that the tutor you work with is knowledgeable, articulate, and clear.
2. The tutor should connect with your child.
If the child isn’t able to connect with the tutor, the session will ultimately be unproductive. Find a tutor that is personable, energetic, and has shared interests with your child. They should be able to find ways to make the material interactive and engaging. You want your child to look up to the tutor as a mentor and role model.
3. Discuss clear goals.
Before starting sessions with a tutor, parents should make sure to highlight their child’s learning goals. They should be sure to spend the time to share their child’s strengths and areas of improvement. That way, the tutor understands what they need to work on. Clear goals allow for the tutor to create a personalized lesson plan and course of action.
4. Constant communication.
Parents will often ask their child what they did in school that day, just to have them respond with “nothing..”. It’s hard for parents to get a true understanding of what their student is doing at school. All they really get is a report card and one teacher meeting each year. So, with tutoring, it’s important to have consistent communication. After sessions, parents should know what their child was working on with the tutor, and what the student still needs to improve on.
Today, Gooroo is giving giving $50 credit towards your first month of tutoring! To redeem, use code MS2019 at checkout.