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When it’s time to call in a tutor

Busy schedules, hybrid learning and demanding coursework have affected students’ academic performance over the last year-plus. The months since a pandemic was declared in March of 2020 have been unlike any other, and confronting the academic challenges of the pandemic may have adversely affected some students’ grades.

A recent report from the Fairfax County Public Schools Office of Research and Strategic Improvement in Virginia found the number of middle and high school students with two or more failing marks increased by 83 percent in the first quarter of the 2020-2021 school year compared to the year prior. But students’ grades may slide or they may find certain school work overly challenging even in normal years. Since many parents have not seen a periodic table or had to solve high school math problems in decades, tutors may be just what students need to regain their academic footing.

Failing grades are not necessarily the most notable indicator that students can benefit from the services of a tutor. The Princeton Review says 25 percent of high school students say homework is their biggest source of stress, and homework progress can help parents determine if it’s time to call in a tutor. Students who find their homework is taking too long, particularly double or triple the amount of time it once required, may need some extra help. Here are some additional indicators that a tutor may be needed.

• Declining test scores: Some students are simply poor test takers, but a gradual or sudden decline in test scores may indicate students are having trouble mastering material. Teachers can pinpoint if certain concepts are overly challenging to students and notify parents if there are any problem areas.

• Poor time management or focus: Students who are struggling may have their attention drift or they put off doing tasks because they don’t grasp the assignments.

• Lack of homework help at home: Parents may have prior commitments during the times of day when their children are doing homework. Even when parents are home, they may discover that the concepts covered in school are not being taught in the ways parents learned them and they may have difficulty assisting their children. Tutors can step in and help students when parents cannot.

• Learning disorder: Certain students learn differently from others due to a diagnosed or undiagnosed learning disorder. A child who is struggling with reading, phonics, spelling, and writing may have dyslexia, according to the tutoring experts at Dyslexia Practitioner NJ. Tutors who specialize in learning disorders can assess and address learning conflicts and tailor instructions in ways that can help students overcome those challenges.

• Students “shut down” or say they “hate” school: Disinterest in school or expressions of hating going to school may be indicative of academic struggles in the classroom, says the Princeton Review. Some students get so frustrated they simply give up. Tutors can solve learning puzzles and help get students back on track and reignite their interest in school. Tutors can be valuable resources for students who need some one-on-one attention to master general learning concepts or reinforce skills for key tests or projects.