How we feel about elementary school and our academic performance, sets the tone for how we perceive education and our academic abilities for the rest of our lives. If learning comes easily and we have early success, all is well. However, that’s not always the case for everyone.

It’s not just learning that we must master. It’s note taking, studying, test preparation, and test writing. The subjects also become progressively more difficult as we age. In elementary school, that’s not a huge leap, but if you have learning challenges or early difficulties, every more difficult step will pile on the pressure and dread.

Every parent wants the best for their children. We don’t want them to suffer, and we want to see them succeed. So how can we best ensure their academic success? The New York Times has this advice:


  • Focus on the process, not the product.
  • Encourage kids to self-advocate.
  • Keep a long-term perspective.
  • Maintain a healthy sleep schedule.
  • Love the child you have, not the child you wish you had.


  • Overschedule.
  • Worship grades.
  • Encourage helplessness.
  • Compare kids to one another.
  • Love kids based on their performance.

Three subjects require the most focus in elementary school: math, reading comprehension, and writing. In every province but Québec, the primary language is English. In Québec, it is French. If your child is working hard to understand each of these subjects but is failing, there is help.

Try a tutoring program or a home tutor who can give your child the individual attention they need to comprehend and excel. There are many different tutoring options to choose from:

  • One-on-one tutoring
  • Group tutoring
  • Tutoring companies like Kumon or Oxford Learning
  • Peer tutoring at school
  • Online tutoring with Superprof

Let’s look at what elementary school teaches and how to best equip your child for long term success.

How Do We Get the Most Out of Elementary School?

Math, literacy, and science are all introduced in Kindergarten through Grade 8.
Math, literacy, and science are all introduced in Kindergarten through Grade 8. Source: Visual Hunt

Learning to read, write, and do arithmetic is the basis of the early school years. You probably cannot remember how long it took to learn how to read, but generally, children begin to learn in Kindergarten with letter recognition and sounds, and by Grade 3 or 4, they are fluent. However, it’s not an easy process.

You will spend many nights sitting with your child, helping them sound out words and progressing to gradually more challenging texts.

In Canada, there is a fair amount of instruction time for each child per year. On average, 5 hours per day, times, five days a week is 25 hours a week. There are 40 school weeks per year, so the average teaching time for each Canadian student per year is 1,000 hours.

Only Chile has a higher classroom time per annum than Canada, at 1,007 hours.

What are our children learning in elementary school? Here’s a breakdown of the Grade 7 curriculum:

  • Language

    • Reading
    • Writing
    • Oral Communication
    • Media Literacy
  • French

    • Listening
    • Speaking
    • Reading
    • Writing
  • Mathematics

    • Number Sense and Numeration
    • Measurement
    • Geometry and Spatial Sense
    • Patterning and Algebra
    • Data Management and Probability
  • Science and Technology
  • History
  • Geography
  • Health and Physical Education
  • Arts (Music, Visual Art, etc.)

Next, there are the learning skills and work habits that each child is evaluated on: from Excellent, Good, Satisfactory to Needs Improvement.

These skills are Responsibility, Organisation, Independent Work, Collaboration, Initiative, Self-Regulation.

It’s a lot to take in, but perhaps because it is so comprehensive, Canadian students’ academic performance is amongst the highest in the world. However, not everyone currently enrolled in elementary school is having an easy time of it. How about the ones who are struggling in math, reading comprehension, and writing? Let’s see how we can make a difference.

What Can I Do If My Child Needs Help in Mathematics?

Math tutoring and math fluency are often inter-linked. While there is no free tutoring, it is a worthwhile endeavor.
Math tutoring and math fluency are often inter-linked. While there is no free tutoring, it is a worthwhile endeavour. Source: Visual Hunt

Math is one of the most challenging subjects for children to master. Some have a natural affinity for it, but almost two-thirds will struggle at some point. A students’ early education and gaining confidence in their math abilities is vital. Also important is making sure their math foundation is sound so they can build on that knowledge within the high school math programs.

What if your child is not doing well, and they have become discouraged and frustrated with math? Now is the time to bring in a math tutor to provide supplemental instruction and academic support for your child.

The best tutors will do the following when you hire them:

  • They will assess your child’s strengths and weaknesses
  • They will create a customised education plan that will emphasise essential concepts and build upon their learning.
  • They will periodically assess your child to ensure they are mastering the concepts and provide homework help.
  • They will encourage and celebrate your child’s accomplishments.
  • They will support them when they struggle and not allow them to give up.
  • They will teach them study skills, how to excel at test taking, and test prep.

Several tutoring programs specialise in math tutoring in Canada. They are Mathnasium, Kumon, and Oxford Learning, to name a few. There is also online tutoring, which can cut your tutoring budget by 30% and make the learning process easy and fast as you don’t have to leave the comfort of your home to work on your math lessons.

What Can I Do If My Child Needs Help in Reading Comprehension?

As we mentioned earlier, it can take a few years of progressive learning to become a proficient reader. The gift of reading is that they will always have a way to entertain and educate themselves once they learn. Yet reading does not come easily to everyone, especially if your child has learning difficulties like dyslexia or ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder), then the entire learning process is exponentially more difficult. Your child may also be learning English as a second language (ESL), and that can be a challenge unto itself.

A reading tutor (in Canada, either English or French) is an excellent investment to help your child find the academic excellence they want. An English tutor or a French tutor will create a vocabulary list relative to their grade level, assign books for them to read, and develop reports (both oral and written) for their tutor to review. They will help them find the joy in reading as a solitary pursuit and as a way to understand their world via the internet.

Good readers create good thinkers.

What Can I Do If My Child Needs Help with Writing?

Tutored students at a writing center or with a certified tutor find greater academic success.
Tutored students at a writing center or with a certified tutor, find greater academic success. Source: Visual Hunt

There are two distinct skill sets in writing: the physical act of writing as well as grammar, syntax, and vocabulary. Your child could struggle with either one of these elements or both.

Often when there are learning challenges present like autism, the physical act of holding a pencil/pen is difficult for the student. Physical therapists or occupational therapists can help your child learn these physical writing skills, or you can teach them to use a keyboard. No matter how a tutee learns, they need extra support, so hiring a writing tutor for this area can be very valuable.

Then there is learning to write proper sentences, paragraphs, and essays eventually.

These are the elements of grammar and writing that can take years to perfect. We learn the basics in elementary school. Private tutors will give your child writing assignments that will challenge and broaden their vocabulary and better their academic achievement. Like most things, the more you work on it, the better you will get.

Should I Hire a Private Tutor?

The school system can only provide so much support. Some kids will need individualized instruction to improve their academic performance and to do better on their homework. We're lucky to live in a place and time that has so many options when it comes to finding a tutor.

If your child is sad, frustrated, or unmotivated to go to school because they feel they are not performing well, a tutor is a fantastic investment. Tutors assist students in reaching their potential, whether it be in math, science, languages, etc.

Jump on the internet and find a tutor. You could choose home tutoring, one of the tutoring services, or try the virtual learning environment and go with tutoring online. Whatever you decide, getting additional support for your child early and turning around the negative associations of academic failure is critical.

You may even find what many others have discovered; tutoring is a lucrative business. For those who might consider becoming a tutor, it’s never been so easy to start a tutoring business. There are only a few requirements: academic excellence or expert knowledge of a subject or sport. Then if you work via the internet, all you need to teach is a computer and an internet connection. You are now one of the global, local tutors. Advertise for tutoring jobs on for free and voila – instant business!

Have a look at these articles if you are considering hiring a tutor in secondary school, university or college or you are wondering how to find the best tutors at every academic stage.

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