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If Your Child Doesn’t Want a Tutor

Your child is struggling in one or more subjects in school.  The teacher has recommended that you hire a tutor for your child.  However, your child has told you that he doesn’t want a tutor.  What should you do?

1.      Ask your child why he doesn’t want a tutor.  Perhaps he thinks other children will think he’s less intelligent if he has a tutor.  Perhaps he is sufficiently discouraged about his struggle to grasp the material that he doesn’t think a tutor (or anything or anyone else) can help him.

2.      Respond to your child’s flow of logic.  For example, if your child believes that no one and nothing can help him master the subject matter, then you can give him a pep talk about perseverance, overcoming obstacles, and achieving success.  You can also speak about the long-term implications of not grasping this subject matter, and you can ensure that your child knows that you have faith in his ability to do well even when it will take a great effort for him to do well.

3.      Speak with your child about the benefits of having a tutor.  These include one-on-one, individualized instruction and a less humbling environment in which your child can admit privately the parts of the subject matter that he doesn’t understand and then receive instruction specific to those areas.  If the tutoring would occur in-home, you can speak to your child about how comfortable it is to get tutored in his familiar home environment.

4.      Speak with your child about people you know who have or have had tutors.  Help your child see that he is not alone, and that really smart people have tutors sometimes too.

5.      If you cannot persuade your child to accept a tutor, ask your child’s teacher and guidance counselor to attempt persuasion.

6.      If neither you, the teacher, nor the guidance counselor are persuasive, then you have a tough decision to make:  do you force your child to have a tutor that he doesn’t want or do you allow him to muddle through on his own and risk failing?  If your child is in early grade school, you may be well advised to say, “Johnny, I know you don’t want a tutor, but a tutor would really be great.  So, I’m going to hire a tutor.  I want you to give him a chance.  We’ll visit after a few weeks to see how it’s working.  I’m not saying you have to have a tutor forever . . . just give it a try.”  If your child is old enough that he can be expected to make reasonably sound decisions, you may say, “Ok, Carl, I hear you saying that you don’t want a tutor.  I’d like to make a deal with you.  If you can pull your grade up to a ‘B’ by mid-terms, then that’s great!  If not, then I’ll hire a tutor for you and you will gratefully accept that assistance.  Ok?”

By proceeding as indicated above, you can appropriately respond to your child when he doesn’t want a much-needed tutor.

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