High school tutoring - find help for your 9th-12th-grade student
For some students, high school is carefree time, yet academic challenges can make these years stressful for students and their parents. Misunderstanding a concept early in the year can snowball into confusion and self-doubt as the curriculum progresses, and standardized tests seem to lurk around every corner. Often, when parents try to intervene, they are met with resistance. So what can you do to help your high schooler succeed?
A plethora of online educational resources gives you several starting points for helping your child. Many of these resources are free, and they give students the freedom to learn at their own pace and ask questions in a non-threatening environment. Traditional tutoring is another option that takes advantage of proven one-on-one teaching methods. Take the time to understand what your child needs to know and what he or she is struggling with. Then, consider your options.
What should my high schooler know?
Specific high-school graduation requirements vary by state, but there are certain courses that all college-bound high schoolers should complete. Not all students take the same courses at the same time, however. For example, a 9th-grader who excelled in 8th-grade algebra may take geometry while peers are taking algebra 1. The following course lists reflect a high-school curriculum that meets the University of California's admission requirements, the Common Core State Standards Initiative and College Board recommendations.
- College-bound students should take English all four years
- Courses emphasize critical reading of literature and informational texts
- Students learn to write persuasive, analytical and personal essays
- Required courses: algebra, geometry, intermediate algebra
- While only three years of math are required, many colleges recommend taking four
- Additional math courses include statistics, trigonometry and calculus
- Most colleges require two years of lab science courses and recommend more
- Required courses: biology, chemistry, earth science
- Additional courses: physics, advanced biology, advanced chemistry, advanced physics
- Colleges require two years of social science/history coursework and recommend more
- Required courses: U.S. history, world history
- Additional courses: U.S. government, geography, economics
- Many colleges require two years of foreign language and recommend three or more
- Students should take the same language for two years
- Common languages to study: Spanish, French, Chinese
Each of the above subjects presents unique challenges to students. One student may need Spanish help to understand the subjective verb tense, while another requires math tutoring to learn the difference between sine and cosine. Before you seek help, take the time to recognize precisely which topics your child is having trouble with.
Option 1: Explore free resources
Educational resources abound if you know where to look. The following resources and websites are a good place to start if your student is struggling with a specific concept or facing homework challenges:
- Teacher extra help. Most teachers are happy to give students individual help, but they simply don't have time to meet with each student during a normal class period. Students who need extra help should set up a time to meet with the teacher one-on-one, either before school, during lunch or during a study hall. In this individualized setting, teachers can explain concepts in a new way and answer specific questions. Students in need of essay writing help may benefit from bringing their rough drafts to teachers and soliciting feedback before the final paper is due.
- Volunteer tutoring. Many community centers, libraries and after-school programs offer free tutoring to students. This kind of drop-in tutoring is especially beneficial for homework help and specific questions.
- Online homework help. If homework is your student's primary struggle, online homework help services can alleviate frustration by answering questions as they arise. The County of Los Angeles Public Library, among others, offers live homework help through its website. Help is available for all high school subjects, including math, science, history and English. Students seeking essay writing help can submit their essay online for review.
- Khan Academy. Backed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Khan Academy is a phenomenal online math, science, and standardized test resource that allows students to watch videos explaining concepts, ask questions and practice solving problems. Individual math concepts are covered in 7-10 minute videos that explain each step through handwritten notes with a voiceover. Salman Khan, the founder of Khan Academy, explained to Wired magazine that this method feels "intimate, like we're both sitting at a table and we're working through something together, writing on a piece of paper." For math help, Khan Academy is a can't-miss resource.
Your child might initially need help finding and using the above resources, but with practice they can gain a rewarding sense of independence and academic responsibility. Online homework help and Khan Academy, in particular, allow students to review concepts as much as they need without the pressure of someone looking over their shoulder.
Step 2: Finding the right tutor
For students facing long-term struggles with a subject, one-on-one tutoring is hard to beat. Working with a tutor consistently allows the tutor to understand your child's learning style and monitor progress. The right tutor can also form a connection with students that increases confidence and encourages academic growth. Like many things in the 21st century, one-on-one tutoring can be done either in person or online. In fact, the Khan Academy began as a way for Salman Khan to offer his cousin math help online.
Whether you're considering traditional or online tutoring, the following resources can help you find the right tutor:
- TutorFinder. Use our Tutor Finder to search for tutors in your area or online by subject, location or grade level.
- Ask your school. Many schools work closely with tutors, so school administrators may be able to recommend a tutor that meets your needs.
- Contact your local university. It may have a listing of college students who earn extra money by tutoring high school students. Just be sure to ask about their qualifications.
- Ask a friend. If your friend has a calculus tutor and you're looking for math help, ask what your friend thinks about his or her tutor. A personal referral is one of the best ways to find an effective tutor.
It's important to remember that learning style varies from person to person. A classroom explanation that works for one group of students may not work for another. Tutoring and other resources allow students to learn in a style that's right for them. With the right tools, your child can succeed in high school and take on broader academic challenges.