I speak with parents every day about their children’s tutoring needs and I’d have to say one of the most common questions I hear is, “How often will my child need tutoring sessions?” As any parent prepares to decide how to best support their child academically outside of the classroom, this is certainly a question that comes to mind. While each student is different and some will require intensive support, for most students, it makes sense to meet with a tutor or coach twice per week. “Why twice?” you may ask. “Wouldn’t once be enough?” For some students in need of only light support, once may be enough. But for the vast majority of students, meeting with a tutor twice per week is going to lead to quicker, longer-lasting results. Research continues to show that students do best when they are engaged in tutoring services on a regular and consistent basis. For most students, twice a week provides this support without feeling overwhelming.
Research on the Effects of Tutoring
A recent article in the New York Times touted the importance of this regular support in helping students achieve long term academic success. In his article titled ‘Intensive Small-Group Tutoring and Counseling Helps Struggling Students’, which was published in the January 26, 2014 edition of the New York Times, Motoko Rich sites a study conducted by the University of Chicago Urban Education Lab which proved that ninth and tenth graders with weak math skills learned three years’ worth of math in an 8 month period when provided with an intensive tutoring program. Standardized test scores were used to measure these gains as compared to similar students who did not participate in tutoring.
This study is not alone. There are countless other research-backed theories showing the benefit of tutoring support on academic achievement. So what is the take away from this as it applies to your child? And what if your student does not need “intensive support”? The bottom line is that both consistency and frequency matter when it comes to successful tutoring. While it may be tempting to scale back or end sessions all together once a student begins to succeed, be wary of old habits resurfacing once the regular support and accountability has stopped.
I often speak with parents looking to resume sessions a month or two after they have ended because the student who was once achieving As has started to slip. If your son comes home with an A on a math test as a result of his hard work with his tutor, ending sessions altogether may hinder continued success with math. Tutoring is not a quick fix. We’ve seen time and again that students do best in the long run with regular sessions, even once they’ve started to achieve their goals. A tutor can reinforce the concepts presented in the classroom to ensure the student is continuing to stay on top of new material. Regular sessions conducted once or twice per week for the duration of the school year are sure to provide a student with that added boost needed for continued academic success and confidence.