But I'm NOT Behind!:" A Child's Resistance To Help

Tutoring is, by general definition, additional help given from one individual to another, usually in a particular academic subject. Nothing about tutoring, within the meaning of the word, suggests anything about the academic abilities of either individual. And yet, this is the connotation surrounding tutoring, and the concept of extracurricular education, in general. It is implied, because of how we as a society have shaped the word, that tutoring is something that is needed only for students who need help in a particular academic subject.

 How often I have heard parents echo the sentiments of their children, or had their children – my students – say something along the lines of not needing a tutor, because, after all, they are not behind in school. Why would they want a tutor, when they are doing just fine as is?

This mentality comes from a mindset framework of reactivity, rather than from a personal process of pro-activity. The saying “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it” should not apply to education or learning in any sense of the word. When it comes to the educational sphere, it is much better to be proactive than it is to be reactive.

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Think of it, for a moment, in the context of your health and fitness. Regardless of your opinions on diet and lifestyle, 98% of people will agree that exercise is good for your body. Movement in some way, shape, or form is good for maintaining optimal health. If an individual decided they weren’t going to move their body until they absolutely had to, because “it works okay now,” and “it’s fine as is – why try to improve it?,” those around them would undoubtedly attempt to show them the benefits of an abundance of movement for the human body. Backed up with years of scientific research, personal stories and experiences, combined with probing questions regarding said individual’s own feelings about health and fitness, it would be very difficult to come to anything other than an accurate conclusion – movement is good for the body, and being proactive with your health and fitness is much better, and costs much less in the long run, than being reactive will.

The case for education can be made in a similar manner. Just as you would not (or should not, in any case) wait until your body is deteriorating before taking care of it, you should not wait until there are signs of trouble before getting additional guidance and help. If you treat your body well, in most cases, you will either simplify or delay the problems and failures that come with aging. Learning is no different. If you treat your mind well, and exercise it regularly, you reap many benefits, both mental and physical, that prove advantageous for the long term.

Private and public educators alike will testify to the amount of children that are, at the very least, determined to be academically “behind,” as far as grades and testing goes. Children may be resistant to tutoring at first, because the fear of being “behind,” of “having” to have additional help, places them apart from their peers. The fear of being excluded and being different is a powerful negative reinforcement that steers many students away from getting help, or even asking for it.

How can you, as a parent, solve this sort of challenge?

Identify the (Future) Challenges

“But there is no problem!” your child insists. “I’m fine; look at my grades.” This is a common refrain among children, regardless of their actual grades. In almost all cases, it helps to remind your child that although they may (actually) be more than fine now, that it doesn’t mean they won’t run into struggles or challenges in the future. Approaching the idea of tutoring with your child from a proactive mindset is a solid start to breaking down this particular complaint.

Now we get to the crux of the issue! Why is this a problem? For the exact reason that this student voiced his answer to me - while this student in particular is intelligent enough to realize that money will not solve his problems, he also recognizes that it is important to do something he loves as a career, because life is meant to be lived, not wiled away in a jail cell for 8 - 15 hours a day on account of a paycheck. His parents are in agreement - that their son will do something he loves, and they will be happy as long as he is with his state of affairs in life. Smart parents. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

 But I know this is not always the case. How many other children out there are forced, coerced, or pressured into something they do not want to do, with the biggest factor being the money? While there are lots of varying statistics on how many people like their job or career, it's most certainly under 40%. How on Earth can we expect our children to choose jobs or careers they like, or start businesses based on passion, when we as adults do not exemplify that for them?

Emphasize a Holistic Approach To Learning

Tutoring, if done right, often results in a closer relationship than the typical teacher/student one, and is most definitely a different relationship than that of a parent/child – although sometimes it can feel that way. As a parent, breaking down your child’s resistance (if there is any) is more about helping them see that a tutor offers more than the typical school experience. Learning is done at their own pace, with things they enjoy learning about, in ways that they learn best. On top of that, it’s an experience for them in itself, either with someone who can give them undivided attention, or within a small group setting.

Learning is a journey, not a destination. Wherever a student is along their journey, a tutor can often bridge that gap.

Looking for additional guidance or support? Star Students provides educational consulting and tutoring services. We’re happy to help!


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