We’re often asked, “how do I know if my child actually needs a tutor?” Usually, if this is a question you’re asking, it’s reasonable to believe your student would benefit from some outside help. But it also begs another question, “does my child just need extra help, or are they struggling with a learning challenge?” It’s a question that deserves to be answered.
As the parent, there are some things you can do at home in order to identify whether your child may have a learning difficulty or delay. Then, if you identify potential learning challenges at home, you can seek the professional opinion of those trained in the diagnosis and support of that specific learning challenge.
Sounds simple enough. But as parents, we know how hard it can be to analyze something we may not know much about. And trying to figure out what’s going on when your child is struggling can feel overwhelming. Sure, we have our parental “gut instincts” – and while those are incredibly valuable…there’s something else that may help: Take N.O.T.E.
Take N.O.T.E. is an effective “at-home” approach that can help identify potential learning challenges for your student.
Step 1: NOTICE
Perhaps it goes without saying, but first and foremost you must identify a specific action or behavior that is out of the ordinary. You may not understand what’s going on with your child, but noticing it and acknowledging that it’s out of the ordinary is the first step.
Step 2: OBSERVE
Identify and keep track of patterns in your child’s action/behavior you identified in step 1. An easy, always-available place to do this could even be your (iCal) phone calendar. It often helps to keep a physical log (literally, take notes – no pun intended) to be able to go back and begin to see patterns, if any, in your child’s behavior.
Step 3: TALK
This includes not only talking to your child about what you’re observing, but also talking with those who know your child well, like teachers and other caregivers.
Step 4: ENGAGE
This is the final step – and it includes connecting with experts like your child’s doctor and school specialists who can help you solidify an understanding of whether your child has a learning or thinking difference.
Here is an interactive online guide from the creators of the Take N.O.T.E. method, complete with helpful, easy-to-understand videos for each “step”, discussion guides when it comes to “engage” or “talk”, and even downloadable observation tool templates.
Need more help? Our team of tutors have had incredible success with our highly-personalized approach. Browse our website to learn more about our approach and the programs we use to help students who struggle.
By: Pam Keseric, The Village Tutors
“Team Natalie.” “Team Lucas.” Those names are part of a reflection of my tenure at TVT. I believe that the “Team” concept is the best way to help your child succeed.
And this Team is composed of parent, child, school teachers, resource teachers, and tutor. One way to help your child succeed is to gather a team behind him/her and all work for the same goal: to make your child gain in the academic skills and feel success in school and in himself.
One key component of this Team is communication. In the past, when I have received parental permission to communicate with the school, it has led to tailoring lessons to support the child. From a teacher’s email, I may learn that the student needs help with blends. Our one-hour tutoring lesson will then incorporate that skill. Through both teacher and parent emails, the sharing of student behavior in school and at home helps me since our one-on-one lessons have no peer interactions to play a factor.
Besides emails, attending IEP and 504 meetings with the school is another communication mode. Nowadays, Zoom IEP meetings. But in the past, in person/at school meetings. Even though I may not say a word, I am jotting down notes from the teacher reports that help me understand the child. This knowledge has been so helpful in knowing how to adjust the level of work and to understand school assignments.
When we were in person, my connection to parents was often before and after the lessons during pick up and drop off. I’d fill my parents in on what transpired during the lesson. At the end of each week, there were also emails/texts for all parents so that they knew what was happening in that hour long lesson. Perhaps skills that could be reinforced at home. And, I always enjoyed the quick (sometimes humorous) responses from the parents. It kept the Team connected. I’d share the academic side; parents shared the family side. And this communication is vital today.
I have tried to keep the pandemic out of this article, but it has snuck in a few times. It is too big for us to ignore. This remote learning has made the Team concept stronger in many cases. I am totally remote with my students, and I can’t begin to tell all how my parents have stepped up to the Team concept. Some of my students do all their work from the screen. Many students would like to read from paper since they are burned out by the screens from their remote school classes. For this group, I send out attachments every week, and the parent member of the Team prints these pages. There are even parents who sit next to their “little ones” during our lessons and help them with some of the work. We all agree that remote learning is not the best way to teach, but for now, I know that the parent Team member is beyond invaluable for my lessons.
With this pandemic, we all wonder about the stress that the children are under. We know and understand the senior losses: graduation, prom, college preparation work. But even the “little ones” are experiencing stress. Research has stated that there are three kinds of stress: positive stress, tolerable stress, and toxic stress. Positive stress is when your child is mildly out of his comfort zone. It may be reading a challenging book and feeling frustration at not being able to read all the words. Tolerable stress is when there is bad stuff happening. This is a pandemic world we are living in now. Bad stuff is happening. BUT if there is a supportive parent to help the child through this time, he can conquer that stress. Toxic stress is long lasting and without a support system. As a Team, we are all there to help each member of the Team to be strong. We are the support system for each other. And the Team member who benefits the most? Your child.
Stress is experienced in many ways: whether the student is having a bad day and needs to leave the lesson to get a hug from mom or the mom is understanding when we don’t quite finish the planned lesson. We need to remember that we are all in this Team together. And we are successful when we can support each other in all ways. And “Team [insert your child’s name here]” is the winner-academically, emotionally, intellectually.