Summer Tutor: When it helps… and when it doesn’t


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Should we think about getting a summer tutor?

Or is it better to just take the summer off?

“My son had a rough go this last year in math. Would it be worth it to have him work with a tutor over the summer to help get ready for when he starts Algebra for the first time in the fall?”

“I’m not quite sure what to do for my daughter. She came home with all A’s and B’s to finish out the year (like usual), but she always seems so stressed out and overwhelmed by all the work she has to do. Would it help to get ahead over the summer so she can hit the ground running next year?”

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“Both my kids are starting at a new school this coming fall – one middle school, one high school. My youngest seems un-phased by it, but my oldest keeps telling me she’s nervous about the transition… I’m not quite sure how to help.”

For all of us who have kids in school, summer is a time to decompress, regroup, and take some much needed time away from the daily grind of rushing out the door each morning, picking up and dropping off from after-school practices and events, and staying up far too late on last minute assignments…

And a lot of times, it’s just that straightforward: take school out of the picture for a few months, and the whole family is better off.

But sometimes, by the time mid-June rolls around, you’re asking yourself:

“Is there something else we need to be doing this summer so that they’re better prepared for next year?”

Now… studies do show that students who don’t practice their academics over the summer fall 2.5 months behind their peers, and that students who have a tutor during the summer are more likely to succeed in college than those who don’t.

But does that apply to your son or daughter?

Or are they better off using that time for rest and recovery, followed by a quick refresher in August before the first week of school?

Here’s how to tell:

No need for a summer tutor Consider getting a summer tutor

Kids working above grade level and have mastery over the content areas.

In other words, your child is achieving mostly A’s and is independent during homework time.

Also, their grades are the result of their own achievement (not the result of a your or a tutor’s help).

Students who are shaky in any given subject…

…especially one that’s cumulative where one skill builds upon another, such as math, math-based science, foreign languages, reading or writing.

A summer review can be a game changer for these kids when instruction is two-fold. First, a good review of any weak areas helps kids create a solid foundation in the skills that are they need to build upon. Second, taking the latter part of the summer to preview what they’ll see in the coming year helps build confidence and motivation.

Students working above grade level, even if they’re a little disorganized and tend to procrastinate.

Students that have difficulty with staying organized and focused, but are achieving A’s without outside support do not need tutoring over the summer.

These students do well in the fall with an educational coach to support their organization, time management, and study skills, but this isn’t necessary in the summer. These skills are best learned within the context of school work.

Kids who have good grades in an particular subject, but it’s not their natural strength.

For example, perhaps your son or daughter has an A or B in English, aren’t a particularly good writer, but they are taking an Honors class in the coming year…

In these cases, students are well served by improving their skills over the summer so they are ready for the rigors of advanced classes.

Kids that are achieving high grades and are anxious.

Most often, these students need downtime to recharge.

If they’re slightly weak in a subject, say math, for example, they do well previewing the curriculum in August so that they feel comfortable and confident in the fall. They do not need tons of tutoring throughout the summer.

Kids who have assigned summer work (math packets, books to read or essays to write) and have the habit of waiting until the last minute to start.

If you have a kid who has waited until mid-August in past summers to even think about summer work, consider getting help.
An educational coach can help him or her to plan out these assignments and practice time management skills to get the work done on time, or even early.

Students going into middle school or high school.

Far and away, we get the most calls in late fall from parents of kids who are new to middle or high school (typically grades 6 or 7 and 9). By November, it’s become clear that the change is far more challenging than kids expected, and their study skills and grades could be better.

I’ve found that when these students have the opportunity to set up some organization systems, preview content of upcoming classes, and review any required summer work, they have a leg up come the first day of school. With continued support through the first quarter, they’re off to a great start, which is what every kid needs in a new school.

Taking the time to understand where your son or daughter is academically in this way, can make a big difference not only in how well they start off next year, but how much they get out of their summer break as well.

So where does your child fit in?

If you’re not quite sure, click here to send us an email with the subject: “What should we do this summer?”

We’ll email you right back with our specific recommendations for your son or daughter.