School is the training ground for our future lives. How well we do in school or fail to do, affects us economically and emotionally well into the future. Is there a way to ensure we, or our children, have all the academic support and advantages needed to reach our full potential both in school and in life?

The recent boom in private tutoring companies and individual tutors in the last ten years has made a tremendous difference to students across the country. Tutoring isn’t just for kids who struggle academically anymore. Students get tutoring earlier and earlier these days, in concentrated math as well as reading and writing programs that prepare children for the rigors of high school and university.

As 17-year-old Hannah Grosman said when she spoke about her math tutor at Oxford Learning,

"I'm teaching myself at my own pace and the way I like to learn, and if I need clarification or help with a question, the tutors are willing to give it," Grosman said. "At Oxford, it's set up for me to succeed, whereas at school, in math class, I didn't always feel that way."

Students get tutors for a myriad of reasons. Not only to rescue failing grades but to prevent marks from slipping. Or it may be to accelerate their existing good grades to fantastic grades. Doing this helps them get into an IB program (international baccalaureate). Or into a competitive university program that only accepts students with the best academic performance.

There is also the ability to learn ANYTHING online now. The virtual learning environment has come to your laptop, and you can be tutored/coached/mentored by a tutor anywhere in the world. It can be cooking lessons, yoga, or karate. Not to mention, the business possibilities of becoming a tutor yourself to supplement your income.

So, let’s get into the details of tutoring at every academic level, starting with elementary school.

Private tutoring in Elementary School – Math and Literacy

Any subject can be tutored, from math and science to reading comprehension.
Any subject can be tutored, from math and science to reading comprehension. Source: Visual Hunt

Elementary math is one of those subjects that needs to be understood well, year after year, because it is cumulative learning. One lesson will build upon the last, and if you fall behind or become confused, you could be left behind. To avoid that, employ a qualified, certified math tutor.

Math tutoring can be done in any number of ways. Either as part of a tutoring centre like Mathnasium or Kumon. You could hire a home tutor who will create individualised lessons and be available by appointment. You could try group tutoring sessions like those at Oxford Learning or Tutor Doctor.

Lastly, as we mentioned earlier, there is tutoring online, and often, there is free online tutoring for the first hour.

Whatever you decide, getting academic support early in your child’s education is wise.

The best tutors will do the following to ensure your child excels in school:

  • Assess your child’s strengths and weaknesses and customise a learning plan to account for each.
  • Create homework assignments that will reinforce key concepts.
  • Train you in study skills like note taking, test preparation, test taking, and exam prep.
  • Coach you on standardised test taking.
  • Understand your preferred learning style. Are you a visual learner, audible, kinetic?
  • Will provide you with the encouragement and ‘tough love’ you need to push yourself and do your best through the easy parts and the difficult. They are part cheerleader, part military sergeant. They care about you, and you don’t want to disappoint them.

English tutoring or literacy is an integral part of elementary education. Being a literate member of society is the key to being able to function in it effectively and procuring an excellent job.

Some learning challenges affect reading and writing and make it more difficult. Conditions such as dyslexia and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder) require extra help to assist students in gaining academic achievement. A qualified special education teacher or a peer tutor, who also has experienced similar issues, can be invaluable support.

Note: You can find a tutor here.

Private Tutoring in Secondary Schools

High school math, algebra, calculus, and trigonometry is nothing compared to Shakespeare.
High school math, algebra, calculus, and trigonometry is nothing compared to Shakespeare.

In high school, the difficulty rises exponentially, and the expectation is that students will take more personal responsibility for their studies.

These are also the years, especially in Grades 11 &12, when students are buckling down and working as hard as possible to raise their grades.

They need the best marks possible to get into one of the many competitive university and college-level programs across the country.

Secondary students need to fulfil 18 compulsory credits and 12 optional credits, plus they must pass the Grade 9 provincial literacy test and complete 40 hours of community service to earn their Ontario Secondary School Diploma (O.S.S.D.). In math, there are many more difficult concepts, and the testing is more rigorous, as are the exams. A math tutor is never a bad idea in high school, as they can do everything from providing homework help to prep for tests, mid-terms, and exams.

English tutors are also a fabulous necessity as they can demystify Shakespeare or be writing tutors that provide essay writing help. Another great skill is a language tutor that can make French, Spanish, or any other second language come more easily.

Tutoring in University or College - Through Peer Tutoring or a Learning Centre

For academic excellence, hire a tutor who’s available to assist you seven days a week if necessary. Source: Visual Hunt
For academic excellence, hire a tutor who’s available to assist you seven days a week if necessary. Source: Visual Hunt

University or College courses are so focused and so independent, only the truly dedicated can keep their marks up without assistance.

What if you have some of the typical challenges, first-year post-secondary students have, like these:

  • The courses you’ve selected are much more complicated than your high school training has prepared you.
  • You realise you picked a major or a program that doesn’t interest you. You may have chosen it because it satisfied your parents, or you didn’t know what you wanted to pursue. Your motivation is low as a result.
  • You need to work to pay for your schooling. The number of hours you work interferes with studying you could be doing to improve your marks.
  • You are struggling with self-discipline and the new domestic responsibilities you now have living on your own for the first time.
  • The Professor or Teaching Assistants are not available to help you with your course struggles.
  • The school community is too big, too remote, and doesn’t have enough support services for the students.

Hire a tutor for one-on-one tutoring to get ahead of the academic curve and get the grades you deserve in post-secondary.

There are typically wonderful peer tutoring groups on campus that provide either individual tutoring or crash courses. They can get you ready for mid-terms or your exams in one intensive three-day session. It’s money well spent because, as we all know, there is no such thing as free tutoring.

If you are doing well in one of your subjects, why not offer your services to become a tutor. It’s a lucrative part-time job as it’s guaranteed to pay, on average, around $20/hour. In-person tutoring can cost as much as $50/hour. That would solve your financial issues and help pay for any additional tuition you may need personally in other subjects.

Another route to consider is online tutoring.

Superprof offers free website hosting, and they will post your tutoring profile for free.

All you need to do is specify your subject area of expertise, provide details of your education and experience, and the rest is up to you. After you have your first few clients, ask them to give a reference that you can post online to advertise your skillset.

An excellent tutor is an invaluable resource that will not only help you see academic progress; they will be your coach and cheerleader who will help you push you through the hard times and celebrate your successes. A genuinely talented tutor can follow you from elementary school to high school.  Although they can’t tutor every subject, at every level, they can connect you to other equally inspiring teachers who can assist you in your college-level courses.

What is holding you back? Give private tutoring a try. It will become that extra level of academic support that will make school at any age easier and more exciting. As well it provides significant personal benefits that come from academic success: confidence, goals for the future, and a willingness to help others. Why the latter? How does it inspire you to help others?

We learn what we are taught. If we are taught kindness, patience, and support, we will return those gifts to the other people we meet in life. That is why the best tutors are the ones that were tutored themselves!

Have a look at these articles if you are considering hiring a tutor in elementary, secondary or in university or college. You won't regret the time or money you invest in this part of your academic career.

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I am a Freelance Writer from Toronto with two teenage boys who keep me laughing and perpetually learning.