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Updated: Aug 10, 2021

Know indicators that your child should get started with a math tutor.

It’s one month into the new school year. Erin and Cameron are in the same Geometry class, halfway through a homework assignment they’re working on together.

Erin said, “Angle A must be 140° since Angle B is 40° and they are supplementary angles.”

Cameron replied, “Okay…” and sheepishly asked, “How do you know?”

Erin informed, “Angles A and B form a linear pair so they are supplementary, which means they add to 180°.”

Cameron asked, “How do you know all of these angles so well?”

Erin said, “My tutor taught me over the summer.”

### Does my child need a tutor?

Previous math grades say your student isn’t the strongest in math. When should you consider supplementing your child’s education with a tutor?

You may be thinking your child has made it this far on their own so they may continue to progress just fine. Or maybe they can get enough help from their teacher. Both cases may be true! But consider the following signs that your student may need additional help from a tutor.

### When to get started with a tutor?

Over the summer.

If your child isn’t earning A’s and B’s, they likely have gaps in their understanding. Starting tutoring over the summer allows time for the tutor to help fill in gaps in understanding, build math foundation, and introduce topics in their upcoming course. Your student will start the year confident that they already know some of the math concepts for the school year!

This is what Erin did to get ahead in Geometry.

Within the first few weeks of school, or if you notice a change in behavior or attitude.

The beginning of the school year typically comes with review of the important concepts of previous courses. The tutor can help review previous concepts and preview new concepts. When it’s later in the school year, there’s only time to learn and practice concepts that will be assessed on upcoming tests.

As far as behavior, assess your child’s homework completion. If they’re spending a lot longer on math homework than in the past or not completing homework at all, they may need help from a tutor. You may notice your child’s attitude toward math has changed and they may seem discouraged by math.

Laura Brown also suggests tutoring if your child seems bored, as tutoring can be for enrichment and not just remediation.

Teachers write tests differently, so it takes some adjustment from the student in starting a new math class.

If your child historically scored B’s on math tests but starts the first math test with a C, I wouldn’t panic. If they earn a D or F on the first test though, that signals tutoring may be a good option. Maybe the new teacher’s explanations don’t make sense to your child. A tutor can explain concepts in a different way.

Another indicator is if the grading period is half over and your child’s grade is a letter grade below where they want it. They still have time to improve their grade, but they need to do something different to improve their grade. A tutor can be that solution.

If the grading period is half over and your child is failing (or two grades below the goal).

For example, Cameron’s goal is to earn a B. There are four major tests in the grading period and his scores so far are 65% (D) and 61% (D).

If Cameron earned 100% on those last two tests, his grade would average to 81.5% (B) and he would reach his goal.

But math is challenging because it builds on itself. Earning low scores on the first two tests indicate he missed some key concepts. Some of those concepts/skills are likely to be used in the last two tests. Cameron will have to spend twice as long studying, reviewing those older concepts and the current concepts. Furthermore, earning a 100% is difficult, even for the best math students.

Cameron could still earn A’s on the last two tests and not reach his goal. If he earned 90% on those last two tests, his grade would average to 76.5% (C).

Realistic expectations are important. Jumping from scores in the 60s to 80s is possible but realistically, you’ll more likely see grades improve from 60s to 70s then 70s to 80s. Improving grades takes time so start with a tutor while there is enough time (and tests) left in the grading period.

### Other options than tutoring

Not every student needs a tutor to improve their math grade. Before getting a tutor, encourage your student to stay after school to work with their teacher and try to re-solve math problems from their notes or homework. There is an endless supply of math videos and resources online to further help. Read other suggestions for the best way to learn Calculus and how to pass Calculus (they both apply to any math subject!) and include suggestions from former students.

If these interventions didn’t bring the results you and your child hoped for, a tutor may be the best option.