Students are seeking extra help outside of school more often these days. Tutors are just one of the many options available to students who want to excel but need a little extra boost.  In this article, Cardinal Education explores the alternatives to private tutoring. 

Free Educational Resources

For an increasing number of parents today, when their son or daughter is struggling in school, the knee-jerk reaction is to call up a private tutoring or educational consulting service to get one-on-one guidance for their child. While tutors have a powerful impact on students’ performance in school, your family may want to consider taking advantage of the many free resources at your disposal before turning to the experts.

Teachers

The most important step any student can take is to see the teacher outside of class. Despite their busy schedules, most teachers will make time to meet with students and offer them guidance. Meeting with teachers can provide valuable benefits for students.

  • Information and feedback.  Outside of class, teachers may clarify assignments and expectations such as instructions for projects or how to properly take notes. Teachers can further explain difficult concepts, which can be especially useful for math, science, and English classes. They can also provide feedback on student work before it is officially submitted, which can increase the student’s chances of getting good grades on important assignments.
  • Showing effort.  While most teachers have an objective grading policy, there is often some subjectivity involved. From a teacher’s perspective, a struggling student who does not ask questions and simply shows up for class is a student who does not care. Teachers tend to make special considerations for students who make concerted efforts to discuss their difficulties and ask for help. If you were a teacher, how could you not love a student who is trying to do better?

Some students are apprehensive about seeing the teacher, but they must understand that the teacher is there to help them. Showing up early, staying after school, or sparing a lunch or free period to meet with an instructor can go a long way.

Peers

A teacher’s availability to help often has limits, so peers can serve as another great resource.  There are several ways in which students can take advantage of their peers’ knowledge.

  • Peer tutoring. Many schools maintain tutoring centers stocked with volunteer staff and students ready to provide academic assistance. Some have drop-in hours, while others require students to sign up in advance. Additionally, if your child’s school has a National Honor Society (NHS), there is a good chance that NHS members regularly make themselves available for tutoring. Contact the school to find out about school-sponsored and NHS tutoring.
  • Study groups.  As the old saying goes, “Two heads are better than one.” Sometimes the most insightful knowledge of what it takes to succeed in a class will come from other students who are already doing well. Your student should take an active role in forming study groups in order to mine the knowledge of his or her peers. Of course, a study group is only as good as the people in it, so encourage your student to use prudence when assembling the group.

One of the most valuable skills students can learn is to collaborate with others. Utilizing peer resources early on in their education can help develop social skills necessary for college and beyond.

Materials

Some students are so heavily scheduled with extracurricular activities that it is hard for them to carve out time to meet with others. In addition to people, online and local resources are abundant.

  • Online resources. Many supplemental lessons and practice materials are freely available to the public on the internet. Interactive quizzes, extra practice, and free worksheets are only a search away. For complicated topics, videos can provide a lucid visual explanation that textbooks lack. Poke around the web; you never know what you might find.
  • Public libraries. Even in the age of the internet, your school and local public libraries remain a valuable place to look for resources. The library may have a more easily digestible edition of that Shakespeare play or a book about chemistry that gives a more comprehensive explanation of entropy than the school’s textbook. Using online library catalogs, you may have any book at any library in the county delivered to the most convenient library for you to pick up. Some libraries even offer free tutoring. Do not neglect the resources that might be sitting right in your neighborhood!

Private tutors and educational consultants provide a valuable service for struggling students, but they do come with a cost. For families on a budget, taking advantage of free assistance, tools, and services is a vital component of helping your children achieve scholastic success.

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