When you’ve done all you can to help your child, educational resources in your community and online – many of them free – can provide the expertise they need. Consider these options:
Ask their teacher. They understand more than anyone the areas in which your child is struggling, and may be able to locate tutors right through the school system. You should also find out if your child’s school offers group study sessions, or if homework help already available at their after-school program (every after-school program funded by The Children’s Trust includes a literacy component, for example) can be pumped up to address your child’s specific needs.
Find a mini mentor. Is your child doing great in social studies but tearing their hair out over math? Suggest that they seek out a friend or classmate who’s faltering in the opposite direction, so they can help each other out. They’ll enjoy the benefit of having hard-to-grasp concepts explained to them by someone who speaks their language, while experiencing a healthy boost to their self-esteem by serving as a “tutor” themselves.
Look for local programs. Check out nonprofit organizations in your neighborhood, such as the YMCA or a community college, to learn if they have a tutoring program in place. It’s not unusual for nonprofit groups to hire high school and college students (who earn money or class credit) to teach younger program participants. If your child requires help in a particular area, they may also have a pool of undergraduate and graduate students with expertise in that subject matter. For children with special needs, local branches of national organizations, such as the Autism Society (www.autism-society.org), can refer you to specialized tutors.
Network, network, network. Your best referral service can often be your own social circle. Ask around if anyone knows of or has personally hired a tutor – or if they’re interested themselves! That sense of familiarity or connection can help minimize anxiety on your child’s part – and yours – about their about working with a complete stranger. You’ll need to come to an agreement if there’s a fee involved, and guidelines for how the sessions will work.
Go online. The Miami-Dade Public Library System provides online tutoring services from www.tutor.com seven days a week, 3-11 p.m. The site offers live, one-to-one tutoring, a real-time writing center and 24/7 access to worksheets, videos and tutorials in just about any subject. The service is free to all library card holders able to access online services from the library or their home, on any computer or mobile device connected to the internet, through the library’s website at tutoring.mdpls.org.
Khan Academy (www.khanacademy.org) is a nonprofit educational organization that provides free video tutorials and interactive exercises across a variety of school subjects. Tutorials are informal in style and organized for building knowledge one concept or lesson at a time, with many lessons delivered as electronic blackboard talks.