Sometimes Parents Aren’t the Best Tutors

We came across an article from the Wall Street Journal from a few years ago titled, “Why Parents Don’t Make Great Tutors for Their Kids.” Sue Shellenbarger, the author, pointed out this interesting piece of information:

As the school year revs up, many parents are now trying to figure out how best to help their kids academically. More parents are trying to tutor their kids at ever-younger ages, as pressures mount for even the youngest children to perform well in school … tutoring is no slam-dunk for parents; many puzzle over how they can wield deep professional skills at work, yet fail so completely at tutoring their children in related skills at home.

Here are a few reasons why parents don’t always make the best tutors:

1) Haven’t Been in School in a While

I remember back when I was working on my Algebra 1 homework, and I went out with my mom to purchase a TI-83 graphing calculator. Having my own calculator at home allowed me to check my answers on complex calculations. However, I remember my mom always remarking “we didn’t have those, we worked with slide rules.” Outside of the movie Apollo 13, I’d never seen a slide rule before.

The truth is many parents haven’t been in school for a while. Subjects change over time, and the homework that a child is working on can be markedly different from what his or her parents worked on when they were in school. Some parents do try to teach themselves the subject by studying their child’s textbook, which is met with mixed results. After a while the child and the parents get frustrated and upset over having to complete the assignment.

2) Present Material Differently than Teacher

Perhaps you are a whiz at math or are a professional writer by day. Your homework assistance can sometimes end up hurting your student. Some teachers teach material in one specific way, and will mark down students who may get the right answer from a different route. Writing styles differ per grade level and academic writing is different than what is published online and on paper. Straying too far from how the teacher instructs your child may seem helpful but can frustrate and confuse your child.

What You Can Do For Your Child

This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t help your child with your homework. If your child needs help with an occasional math problem here or there, or wants you to review his or her essay for grammar and punctuation, you are more than capable of helping your child out. However, if your child is struggling in an academic subject and is repeatedly frustrated during homework sessions, you may need to consult some additional help.

The first step is to talk to your child’s teacher and identify areas that need improvement. Ask the teacher if he or she offers after-school help sessions and come up with an agreement for your child to get help on a weekly basis. You can also consider hiring a tutor. Tutors have experience working with children who are not “getting” the material in class, but are able to help them understand and learn difficult subjects outside of the classroom.

You can read the whole article “Why Parents Don’t Make Great Tutors for Their Kids” here: http://blogs.wsj.com/juggle/2009/09/17/why-parents-dont-make-great-tutors-for-their-kids/

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3 Responses to “ Sometimes Parents Aren’t the Best Tutors ”

  1. Jim Putnam says:

    I worked in business for over 30 years and taught high school math for three years and continue to work in the school system. Here are several observations.

    There is very lacked discipline in the classroom and it seems to get worse each year. Teachers let students lay on the floor, huddled on bean bag charis to do work and teachers simply have very little interaction with the students.

    Despite what teachers say, they are primarily concerned with themselves and the money and benefits that thye receive from the taxpayers. On a daily basis, the children take a back seat.

    Teachers do very little actual teaching in the classroom on a daily basis. They spend more time non teaching sessions where the children are let to other rooms for art, computers, science, music and gym and assemblies

    Bottom line, taxpayers are not getting their monies worth.

    • Bons says:

      to ensure that they are lernaing the concepts they need. As soon as there is any indication that the student is having difficulty, math tutoring should be started. Math tutoring will help prevent students

  2. [...] Parents who try to help their students with homework can end up making things worse. Here are a few reasons why parents don’t always make the best tutors.  [...]