From Homework Help to Tutoring: A Natural Parent’s Guide to Tackling Academic Challenges

About one-third of Australian school students can’t read at their grade level, according to the 2023 National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN). “When children do not learn to read fluently and efficiently in early primary school, it can undermine their future learning across all subject areas, harm their self-esteem, and limit their life chances,” Anika Stobart writes for the Conversation. Thankfully, there are several options for parents who wish to help their child meet (and exceed) their academic goals. From how you can identify problem areas to hiring the right tutor – and how you can incorporate a natural and eco-friendly twist for a healthy routine –  the road to academic success doesn’t have to seem unattainable. 

Simple ways to identify academic challenges

It can be difficult to gauge how your child is doing in class and whether or not they can benefit from extra academic help, though there are several signs to look out for. “If your child is struggling to keep up with the regular pace of work or if you see that your child’s grades are beginning to drop in a class or subject… [they] might need a tutor,” says Joy Billops, Ed.S, the assistant principal of Breckinridge-Franklin Elementary in Louisville, Kentucky and member of the Global Game Changers National Educator Advisory Board. However, other signs – such as your child struggling with homework assignments or simply not wanting to go to school for seemingly no reason can present additional indicators that they could use some extra help. 

Talking with your child is a great way to gauge where they stand in regard to academic progress. For example, key questions, such as asking about certain subjects and about what they may find confusing, etc., can provide valuable insight into any academic struggles. If you’re finding it difficult to gauge how your child is doing in the classroom based on your conversations, communication with the teacher is a must. Setting up an in-person meeting is a great way to discuss your child’s academic strengths and weaknesses. From there, information such as specific challenges in the classroom can be used to determine how to best help your child – while small issues can be remedied via extra homework help, regular tutoring may be an avenue worth pursuing for more extensive difficulties. 

From homework help to tutoring

When aiming to support your student’s academic goals, homework help can be a great place to start (especially when it comes to tackling smaller issues). For example, a bit of extra study time at home can be a great way to work through simple challenges, like fully understanding a new maths concept. One 2018 ABC News article highlights one global survey of more than 27,000 parents conducted by the Varkey Foundation. When asked about how much time, on average, they spent helping their children academically per week, Australia ranked 23rd of the 29 countries surveyed, with 13% of parents saying they spent seven hours or more reading to their children or helping them with homework. Homework time can be a major indicator as to how your child is doing in class, particularly when it comes to comprehending the material and identifying any specific struggles. 

A private tutor is another great way to supplement your child’s academic endeavours, especially if your child has been experiencing academic difficulties for a significant amount of time. Tutoring can also be a great way to help your child develop beneficial academic strengths (like study skills, for example). With that in mind, it’s imperative to choose the right tutoring approach. “While in-person tutoring may work well for students who already spend a lot of time online and need a break from computer screens, online tutoring is often more convenient and dynamic,” says Christopher Rim, founder and CEO of Command Education. “Tutors can use technology to incorporate images and animations into lessons,” Rim goes on to note, further pointing out that all of these options can be effective – though it’s important to know what you’re looking for.

In addition to choosing the right tutoring approach, hiring the right person for the job is essential in order to address your child’s academic difficulties successfully. While doing your research by looking up a prospective candidate online is a great way to narrow down your choices, there are several other aspects of the process worth keeping in mind. In addition to the proper qualifications and plenty of experience, criminal record checks are imperative when hiring an in-person tutor in order to provide a safe experience for your child, while interviews play an equally important role. When planning for an upcoming interview, it’s important to ask your child to be present. This is a great way to involve them in the process while determining whether there is a good rapport that can serve as a foundation for academic success later on.

Integrating natural supplements for further success

Extra homework help and regular tutoring can make a major difference in helping your child meet their academic goals, though incorporating an eco-friendly twist can further the benefits. Sustainable and environmentally friendly snacks (without plastic packaging) are a great way to supplement your child’s homework routine or tutoring lesson. Fruit in a reusable container is always a great choice, and is beneficial to the brain, too – one Healthline post notes that citrus fruits are highly nutritious. Oranges and grapefruit are noted to be rich in flavonoids, such as hesperidin, naringin, quercetin, and rutin, to highlight just a few. “These compounds may have the ability to promote learning and memory, as well as protect nerve cells from injury, therefore warding off mental decline,” Healthline notes.

Taking homework outdoors or requesting that a private tutor do lessons outside is a great way to inject nature into learning. That said, the benefits of spending time outdoors are extensive. “There are many studies that demonstrate how spending time in nature can improve mood, lower anxiety, and improve cognition and memory,” says Jodie Smith, APRN., C.N.P., D.N.P., M.S.N. and Mayo Clinic nurse practitioner. “Making time for nature is important in order for us to maintain resiliency and promote self-care in a world that demands a lot from us.” Nature may also be able to combat stress and its effects – the Mayo Clinic Press article cites one study that demonstrated exposure to nature can regulate the sympathetic nervous system in “as little as five minutes.” 

For children that could use a bit of extra help academically, parents can help by focusing on homework time together – or by hiring the right private tutor. From there, incorporating eco-friendly supplements (such as nutritious brain food and spending time outdoors), students can reap the benefits of healthy and eco-friendly academic routines.

Kylee Harris is an educator who has taught in elementary schools in Singapore and Hong Kong for 5 years. She lives in Florida and continues to teach life skills to young adults in her community.

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