If you are even considering the question, then get help. Don’t wait! Far too many kids are not getting the support they need to be successful, and the cycle of poor grades and even poorer mastery of vital skills crushes confidence. This cycle establishes a lifelong belief that they are horrible at math, missing some gene that the gifted kids have. Once a kid falls into this trap, it’s very hard to reach them. They give up and accept failure.

Many of my students think math is an inherit gift, either you have it or you don’t. It is simply not the case. Math is a skill, and like any skill, practice leads to mastery. While it is true that some kids have a natural affinity for math, even they must practice the necessary skills in order to achieve at a high level. They just like doing it, so they practice more often. For them, it’s a positive feedback loop, and they become even more invested in doing their homework and honing their skills. The results are better grades, and they rise to the top.

Kids that struggle have the opposite experience. They do their homework as best they can, but they still fail quizzes and tests. Their failures pile up, reinforcing that studying is a waste of time. So, they study less and fail more. The pattern is set and very hard to break. A tutor can help to rebuild confidence by shoring up deficiencies in fundamentals and helping them prepare for quizzes and tests.

If you polled kids and asked do you need a tutor, most would say no. They often believe only “stupid” kids have a tutor. This stereotype is a problem, and holds them back from asking for help. Many students who use tutors are very good in math and want to achieve even more. Most fall in the middle, they are “okay” at math (their words, not mine), but need a little support to maintain their GPA.

Most of my students like tutoring once they are here. None of them want to fail, they just can’t see a way around it. They believe it’s impossible to get a B or an A in math. Many surprise themselves, and do just that. I love seeing their eyes open to the possibility of success. They need a little boost, so their hard work is rewarded with good grades. Success is possible.

Coming next week: The warning signs for middle school aged kids.