Signs Your Child Needs A Tutor: How To Tell They Are Struggling Academically

Have you noticed your child postpones doing their homework assignments? Have they seemed a little anxious when leaving home to go to school?

These and other behaviors may indicate that your child could use the help of a tutor. Whether they are struggling with one subject or school in general, children often flourish academically once they’ve worked with a tutor one-on-one.

In this post, we review some signs that indicate your child may need a professional tutor.

1. Their grades are falling.

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Many children find it difficult to tell their parents that they are having a hard time with a school subject, for example, English grammar. Then a report card comes out revealing that all term long, your child has fared poorly in that class. Even if one report card is upsetting, it isn’t too late to turn things around. First talk to their teacher about the particular areas of difficulty your child has. Then, start looking for a tutor with experience teaching someone your child’s age.

2. They are anxious and moody about school.

Almost all children experience a little anxiety occasionally about school. However, if they are visibly upset about going, or if they cry getting their coat on before heading out, something is definitely wrong. Once you’re sure it is a problem with a school subject, and not that they are being bullied, for example, take action. Ask them to tell you just what the problem is, and assure them that a poor grade is not going to anger you. Once they know you just want to help, they’ll relax and let you in on what’s bothering them.

3. You notice they can’t grasp fundamentals when you help with homework.

Parents know instinctively whether their child is simply working to understand something new, or whether they are unable to grasp the material at all. Learning is a gradual process that has very clear and evident steps. If your child can’t seem to grasp something very basic, they may need a tutor with specialized skills to tackle the issue. A professional tutor is trained to spot differences in learning styles and review material in a way your child can absorb.

4. They do better in one-on-one settings than group learning.

If your child is unable to process something in math class, for example, but learns it when you work with them at home, their learning style may be best suited to one-on-one instruction. Having a tutor who regularly reviews their whole curriculum will help them learn and absorb all their lessons’ content. Conversely, they may do fine in a group setting for most subjects but get lost in one area. Often it is math, science and/or language skills that trip children up the most in elementary school. For high school students, it is often testing and exams that pose the biggest challenges.

5. They excel in all subjects but one.

This is a sure sign that your child would benefit from some tutoring in the subject in which they are obviously struggling. If they love school but dread the one class they are failing, that’s the overt sign parents should heed, which tells them that some extra help in a difficult subject will allow their child to boost their overall grade. And as they get older and begin preparing for college, the overall grade average they achieve becomes increasingly important.

6. Their homework receives good marks but they fail tests.

When this happens, it’s often because the stress of doing a test or exam has temporarily gotten the better of your child. They know the material, but struggle to recall it during the test. A tutor can be extremely helpful with this, not only reviewing the content but helping your child learn coping strategies they can use during the exam.

7. A once favorite teacher is now criticized by your child.

This is just a cover story, so to speak. If your child’s favorite teacher in grade five is suddenly the object of harsh comments and even scorn the following year, in all likelihood it’s not the person that’s the problem. Children sometimes go to great lengths to pretend nothing is wrong at school, but still their unhappiness needs to come out. And so, instead of saying outright that they need help, they’ll blame their instructor. Once you delve into the real problem with your child, you’ll discover that it’s likely the subject that’s to blame, not any person at the school.

8. You discover they’ve skipped classes, or entire days.

This is an extreme response to difficulties at school, but it is not uncommon. Children often have a tough time talking to parents, teachers and others in positions of authority if they feel they are failing academically. This is particularly true during the emotionally charged teen years, when some children want to pretend the problem doesn’t exist at all. However, if you urge your teen to talk about what’s happening, and assure them you will not get angry or blame them, this behavior should end once they get the help they need.

These are some of the most common signs that your child needs the extra help a tutor provides. It is rare that children excel in all school subjects and are comfortable writing tests and exams, so try to not worry if you realize your child needs extracurricular help.  

A professional tutor provides not simply subject material, but also the kind of personal attention many children need to deeply absorb that content. As parents, you have the flexibility of hiring a tutor for a few weeks, if your child needs to prep for an important exam, or an entire term. You can even keep the tutor on speed dial in case your child needs help at any time during their academic career. That is a comforting thought for parents and children alike – having a professional tutor on standby to help when school work gets tough.