I recently participated in a conversation about a specific problem a tutor was having with her current high school student. She graciously has given me permission to share her situation to help illustrate what she and many other tutors are experiencing.
“I'm tutoring a grade ten math student this year, he is a returning student from last year. The problem is, he will not do any math homework, or test prep unless I am there. We only see each other twice a week for two hours. Basically, I have to attempt to review concepts AND do practice in two hours, which doesn't stick because he doesn't do anything on his own. He currently has a 29% in his course, and does not have much time to pass. We have suggested dropping down an academic level but he refuses (which you would think would give him motivation to do his work, but it doesn't). I'm running out of ideas of what to do to help get concepts through to him in such a short period of time. I'm trying to work on the same concepts he's currently working on in class, but he's just so behind. I'm thinking about starting all the way from chapter one and just keep building until exam time, but I don't want the next few tests to suffer because we aren't reviewing the current material. Any help or activities we can do would be great – he's very hands on and loves the carpentry/construction area!”
Time for a Wake Up Call
I was floored after reading her predicament, how in the world does a child get this far in education without having to do much for himself? I believe wholeheartedly that this child needs a serious wake up call or his mommy and daddy need to prepare themselves for him to be at home with them for a very long time.
I realize however that I tend to be a stickler when it comes to situations like these. If this were my own child his life would become miserable. No electronics, no money, no extra curricular activities…nada except for school, homework, eating, and sleep.
Time to Part Ways
I couldn't help, but asked generically on Facebook what other tutors thought about dropping a student. They had a lot to say and we all were in agreement, it is time to go separate ways. Cut the strings! What a waste of money for those poor parents.
I read a book that has changed the way I view hardship in my own children's lives and the children I tutor. Blessing of a Skinned Knee written by Wendy Mogel calls her method of parenting “compassionate detachment”. Essentially, in her book she discusses how parents are over involved and need to let their children experience the ups and downs of life to know that they can overcome difficult things and triumph beautifully. It is so easy as a parent to hover and fret about every choice our children make, but when in actuality the children need a growing opportunity for independence and to learn from mistakes.
Is it time to let your student go? Here are a few signs…
1. The child habitually talks about other topics than the subject he/she are attending tutoring for at the present moment.
2. They refuse to do any work on their own time.
3. The parents will not put rewards or consequences in place for good/poor performance at school.
As a tutor, you are being paid to help a child to learn and learn to love education! If you are struggling to even get a child to comply with basic requests like homework and studying for a test, it's time to seriously consider dropping a student. It's time to let them fall and experience the effects of their choices. Let the blessing of a skinned knee come into full effect.
Upon grabbing links for Blessing of a Skinned Knee, I discovered that Wendy Mogel has written another book called The Blessing of a B Minus. Totally going to read that one next! It's a guide to help parents of teenagers.