Pi Day Logo

“There is no end to education.  It is not that you read a book, pass an examination, and finish with education.  The whole of life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of learning.” – Jiddu Krishnamurti

It is summer break and school’s out for a few months – time to sleep in, go to the pool every day, eat junk food nonstop, and stay up late playing video games, right?  Well, maybe, but for some students it may also be useful to hire a tutor over summer break to brush up on various concepts and prepare for the upcoming school year.  Tutoring over the summer can help keep young minds sharp, maintain skills acquired over the school year, reinforce time management and goal-setting skills required to succeed in life, and be a way to obtain one-on-one help and boost a student’s knowledge and confidence on subjects in which they may be struggling.

Really, tutoring can be a good idea in many situations, not just over the summer vacation.  A teacher may recommend additional tutoring because grades could be improved.  The student may experience extreme anxiety before exams and perceive the homework to be increasingly difficult due to their nerves.  The student may report losing interest in learning and feel like they want to give up.  They may be reluctant to do schoolwork or even show diminished interest in going to school.  Whatever the reason, here are the benefits of hiring a tutor for summer break:

  1. Build confidence and self-esteem

Students who obtain tutoring help over the summer will have better proficiency with a range of subjects.  While this in and of itself is a great benefit of tutoring, the fact that the child has greater familiarity with various academic topics can help build their confidence and self-esteem.  Oftentimes, academic subjects that seem too hard at first, particularly in math and science, can lead to poor performance simply because students are poorly engaged with the topic.  Poor performance in school can also adversely affect children’s self-esteem.

A student who has some basic knowledge of math topics that they will encounter in school next year, for example, is more likely to feel confident that they can handle this material with which they are somewhat familiar, and is therefore less likely to give up working on the math problems.  However, a student who is encountering complicated mathematical concepts for the first time during the semester may not feel confident in their ability to complete the math problems, which can lead to poor academic performance and the student giving up.

Tutoring can also provide praise, feedback, and encouragement to a child, which can be beneficial to the child’s self-esteem and self-worth.

Tutoring can boost students’ confidence and make them more comfortable in the academic environment.

  1. Gain understanding of topics that are taught confusingly in school

These days, with all of the various academic requirements imposed by the state and federal agencies, it seems like some topics are being taught more confusingly than ever.  In high school, despite being a self-proclaimed science nerd, I struggled with unit analysis problems for several months despite asking my teacher questions every week in class.  I had an intuitive understanding of what unit analysis is, and I understood the importance of converting, for example, a weight from kilograms to pounds, but frustratingly, I could not do the unit analysis problems for what seemed like several weeks.   I never became an expert on unit analysis in high school science, but thanks to a combination of asking various people to explain unit analysis to me, as well as completing unit analysis problems on my own time, I finally was able to master the basics of the topic.  Students all learn differently and a learning style that is ideal for one student may not make any sense to another student.

Summer tutors are therefore ideal for students who struggle with understanding concepts as they are taught in school.  Students should realize that it’s not their fault that a concept is taught in a way that does not make sense to them and this does not mean that they are stupid.  Rather, perhaps the subject matter is confusing or taught poorly.  I have been in classes many times listening to an explanation of a concept that did not make any sense to me at all while a classmate would nod furiously in agreement and understanding.

Some students may have less background on various academic concepts than others so when a topic comes up in class, students who have not studied the concept in depth lag behind.  Students can work one-on-one with a tutor in their free time over the summer in order to gain a better understanding of concepts that seem difficult or even foreign to them.

  1. Maintain acquired skills during the summer

Summer is a long time and three months without going to school can lead to the forgetting of important academic concepts and skills.  Summer tutoring is great for students who seek to maintain acquired skills over the summer so that when fall rolls around, they do not have to feel like they must start over in developing their academic skills.

Tutoring can help students maintain and build on skills acquired during the school year.

  1. Combat gifted children’s boredom in school by giving them the opportunity to get ahead in their studies

Gifted students who are forced through the tedium of a curriculum that does not challenge them will inevitably become bored.  Summer tutoring can be a great way to help gifted students advance by giving them the academic background required to take a step up in their academic career and perhaps opt for more challenging courses in the upcoming semester.

If you feel that your child is suffering from academic boredom, first determine whether the boredom arises from a certain time of the school day or a certain subject.  Boredom that is related to waiting for lunchtime to roll around, for example, is different than boredom associated with a particular subject, such as math or science.  Is the boredom associated with a particular type of assignment?  Being cognizant of these different factors that play a role in your child’s boredom can be very helpful in determining what type of tutoring, if any, your child will benefit from over the summer.

Before you decide on summer tutoring, you may want to speak with the student’s teachers to see why the student is bored in class.  It is possible that the work that the student is engaged in is indeed tedious and repetitive, in which case, summer tutoring on those concepts would be likely to add to the child’s boredom.  However, the teacher may be able to recommend some higher-level courses or subject matter for the student.

For students who are struggling with boredom at school, the website Psychology Today offers some additional advice on how to combat boredom in gifted youth; however, they state, it may be impossible to eliminate boredom in school altogether.

  1. Prepare for and perform better on standardized tests

Especially in high school, students must take a slew of standardized tests including the SAT, ACT, and PSAT.  For best results, these tests should be treated like any other exam and students should make the effort to prepare extensively for them.  Especially because the college admissions game has become more competitive than ever, good preparation for these exams can make or break one’s college applications.  Students who work with a tutor over the summer can perform better on standardized tests.  Tutors can teach students test-taking strategies, identify strength and weaknesses, help the student stay motivated in preparing for standardized tests, and serve as a positive presence and help foster enthusiasm about the student’s academic life.

Test anxiety is also a problem for many youth.  Tutoring can boost their familiarity with the material and enable them to be less nervous and perform better on test day.

Tutoring can help students to perform better on standardized tests and reduce test day anxiety.

  1. Help with transitions – for example, to a new school

Hiring a summer tutor can help new students adjust to the new academic environment. Students who move and begin study at a new school may find that their previous classes do not prepare them extremely well for their new academic situation.  In cases like this, it may be helpful to participate in summer tutoring to get up to speed on topics that were not taught (or were taught poorly) in the student’s old school in order to ensure the student’s academic success.

  1. Avoid peer pressure

Unlike during the school year, summer can be a time when students do not have much adult supervision.  This leaves youth more susceptible to peer influences.  Today’s social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter, coupled with students’ free time over the summer, can be a harmful combination.  Young people who have nothing to do and who have an entire world of peer influence in the palm of their hand may be pressured to spend their summer leisure time drinking and/or doing drugs due to peer influences.  Youth therefore need constructive activities to occupy their time in the summer just as their time is occupied by school during the school year.  Tutoring can help students avoid negative social influences and stay focused on academics.

  1. Maintain a summer routine and learn time management skills

While it may seem tempting to sleep in and play video games all summer, you may be better off spending your time trying to learn better time management skills.  Good time management enables one to get more done in a shorter period of time, which leads to having more free time, lowers stress, and helps with focus.  Time management skills can help youths in all areas of their lives.  Being able to get more done in less time means that students will be more effective in accomplishing tasks in an academic setting and will be able to dedicate more time to things that matter most to them.  Contrary to popular belief, time management does not take extra effort and, in fact, improves one’s life and one’s reputation as a competent and reliable person.

Tutoring can improve students’ discipline and teach them important time management skills.

  1. Get specialized help in one area of study

Struggling with a specific concept or topic area?  Finding a tutor for the summer holiday could be a great way to get up to speed on the material in a subject or concept.  Increasing a student’s proficiency with a topic is likely to boost their engagement with the material and reduce homework struggles during the school year.

  1. One-on-one instruction can help students with specific needs

Children who deal with autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, Attention Deficit Disorder / Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Dyslexia, Auditory and Visual Processing Disorders, and Non-Verbal Learning Disabilities can benefit from one-on-one instruction afforded by a summer tutor.  Summer tutors can work with children to develop skills and strategies to improve classroom performance and have better understanding of content that may have been taught in a modality that did not match their learning style or their special needs.

  1. Ease embarrassment or shame

A student who is struggling with academics may hesitate to ask for help in the classroom.  One-on-one tutoring can help students feel at ease to ask questions and obtain clarifications so that they can better understand the material.  Students who have questions about concepts learned in school may feel embarrassed asking a question in front of the entire class or fear being seen as dumb by their peers.

Obtaining one-on-one instruction allows the student to ask questions without an audience of critical peers and may make the student more comfortable with asking questions in class and the academic environment.  One-on-one tutoring also eliminates academic competition that the student might experience from peers.

It may seem like tutoring is only a good idea as a remedial strategy for students who are not academic high-performers, but tutoring can be a good idea for all students.  Regardless of whether children are doing well in school or not, they should remain active learners over the summer break, even though they have time off from school.