Tummy aches on school days. Lack of interest in assignments. Resistance to doing his homework. These are often the first signs that your child is having trouble at school.
For a child with attention deficit disorder (ADD ADHD), who struggles just to keep up, falling behind can feel like chasing a train that has left the station - you might as well give up and go home. Tuning in to your child's schoolwork problems early - and getting him the help he needs - will make it easier for him to hop back on board.
Read the signs
How can you tell if your child needs extra help with schoolwork? Look for these clues, adapted from guidelines used by the Huntington Learning Center:
- His homework is frequently incomplete or inaccurate, no matter how much time he spends on it.
- He's working hard, but his grades are falling.
- He shows an increasing lack of confidence and motivation.
- He's anxious before tests.
- He's reluctant to go to school.
- He seems to have lost his interest in learning.His teacher reports that his behavior has begun causing problems in class.
- He says, "I'll never understand this. I give up." Or worse, you hear yourself saying it.
If you think there's a problem, take action right away.
Start by meeting with your child's teacher. Find out where your child stands academically, which subjects he has trouble with, and how serious the problems are. Is he missing some basic skills fundamental to academic success, or has a recent topic tripped him up? If the teacher thinks your child is at risk of falling behind or hasn't mastered certain skills, ask if extra help is available at school. If it's not, consider an outside tutor.
Consider your options
Before you dig into your wallet, look for some free sources of assistance. As a result of the "No Child Left Behind" Act of 2001, many schools are offering free before- and after-school tutoring programs. Also, some public libraries provide free homework and research assistance for students after school.
Private tutors and learning centers are usually readily available, and they often advertise in newspapers. Try to get a recommendation from a teacher or parents with experience in this area. Have your child meet the tutor, observe the center, or, if possible, arrange for a sample session to see if there's a good fit before making a long-term commitment.
If you're looking for maximum flexibility, consider the tutoring services available online. These include real-time tutoring, correspondence tutoring, and time-monitored tutoring, which charges a flat fee for a given number of hours of assistance.
Finally, don't overlook your child's original teacher - yourself. If you have the knowledge and patience to tutor your child, you'll be rewarded with the joy of shared learning and one-on-one time you may have otherwise missed.
Compare the options
Benefits: One-on-one interaction. Ability to foster a strong personal relationship.
Challenge: Finding a qualified tutor who is a good match for child.
Cost: $20-$75 per hour, based on tutor's qualifications and subject matter.
Benefits: Trained and certified teachers. Objective testing to assess needs.
Challenge: 3-5 students per tutor. Families cannot choose tutor.
Cost: About $150 a week for several sessions.
Benefits: Time flexibility. Appeals to computer-savvy kids.
Challenge: No personal communication, assessment, or mentoring relationship.
Cost: Subscription services average $20-$50 per session or $100 a month.
"NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND" TUTORS
Benefits: Highly trained tutors work closely with classroom teachers.
Challenge: Available only in low-income schools failing to make "adequate yearly progress." If funding is limited, only the neediest students may qualify for tutoring.
Cost: Free in qualifying schools.
Benefits: Can attend on drop-in basis.
Challenge: Not available to all grade levels. Tutors may not be proficient in all subjects. May be available only at certain times.