Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The A+ Student

How Do I Help My Child Become An A+ Student?

Is your middle school or high school aged child not reaching his or her true academic potential? Do you believe your child’s performance in school does not measure up to his or her true aptitude?

Does your son or daughter spend inordinate amounts of time on websites such as My Space or YouTube instead of studying? Many parents are surprised when the report card arrives and the grades are significantly below where the student should be performing. But do parents really know how much time after school is actually spent studying and how much time is wasted in chat rooms or on teenage web sites? Not only are these sites time wasters, they are also potentially very dangerous as has been documented in all forms of the media.

Procrastination through the use of teenage chat rooms, complaining about the teacher, or saying there is “no homework” can often clearly be viewed as a child’s cry for help. There are several signs to look for when parents are trying to determine whether their child could benefit from extra help from a teacher or tutor. Signs to look for would be:

· Child does not bring home all books and binders from school or brings very small amounts of work home with them. Even if there is “no homework,” the A+ students always studies their class notes in order to prepare for upcoming tests or quizzes.
· Child often makes comments such as, “The teacher just really doesn’t like me,” or “I just don’t get along with this particular teacher.” The A+ students often seek help from teachers whether they like them or not.
· Child’s backpack is highly unorganized and full of loose papers. The A+ students usually have one binder for each subject and use dividers to organize loose papers, tests and homework.
· Child spends excessive time in room after school on the computer for reasons other than schoolwork. The A+ students always know to finish their homework and study time first and save recreational time for the weekends.
· Child does not keep an up to date calendar to record all homework assignments, long term projects and upcoming tests or quizzes. Child may keep a calendar, but it is only partially filled in or not filled in at all. The A+ students always record their daily assignments in an organized fashion and all dates are filled in with accurate information.

A good tutor often provides immeasurable support for the student who underperforms for any of the above reasons. A good tutor not only acts as a motivator and role model, but is also very good at teaching time management skills, organization and test taking strategies.

When interviewing a tutor, it is a good idea to find out how many years of experience the tutor has and exactly which subject areas he or she specializes in. For example when looking for a Geometry tutor, ask how many students the tutor has worked with in Geometry and how recently they have tutored Geometry. Some tutors may say they can tutor math, but haven’t had much experience with a certain grade level or are out of practice in a particular area. One great question a parent asked in an interview was, “Is there any subject you are not comfortable tutoring?” This forces the tutor to look at his or her strengths and weaknesses.

A very good friend of mine, Shannon Mulligan, is a fabulous tutor and operates the company, Marin Tutors, based here in Marin County. Shannon has a B.A. in Economics from U.C. Berkeley and a M.A. in School Counseling from Boston College. She comes highly recommended and has several tutors working for her to accommodate all of the varied subjects as well as PSAT and SAT prep.
Shannon can be reached through her website www.MarinTutors.com or by phone at 415.378.3324. If you have or know of a child, I would advise to contact a competent tutor to make sure the child is given all available tools necessary to succeed in any academic endeavor. An education will last them a lifetime.

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