One of the hardest things about teaching and tutoring is the unidentified remedial student. A kid can be in Grade 5 but at the third-grade skill level. That’s a problem. It’s one thing for them to be in special education. It’s quite another when that need is unknown.
Let’s say the student gets tutoring for third-grade math. Since he’s a fifth grader, he’ll still be getting fifth-grade math homework. Even with tutoring, he’s still responsible for getting it done daily. This is presuming that he’s applying himself with the tutor. It won’t help him much to try studying both simultaneously. Chances are pretty good that the tutor isn’t trying to help him do that. In fact, the tutor probably wonders how the student managed Grade 4 math if he wasn’t ready.
It’s not the current teacher’s fault he’s been assigned beyond his comprehension. The tutor knows that. How did the Grade 4 teacher deal with the chasm in the student’s learning? The same could be asked about the Grade 3 teacher. These questions aren’t about finding fault with faculty. They’re about discovering the root cause.
A Shared Issue
The biggest fear is that the student won’t pass to the next grade level. With that comes social shame, peer ridicule, and humiliation. Probably no adult wants to put a kid through such academic trials. Without prevention, it will create cyclical stress every April or May. “Am I going to pass?”
Solutions and Sacrifice
The best thing is tutoring that begins at the level of comprehension. Cost and time should be distant considerations. Tutoring remedial students isn’t like tutoring a good student for a weekly test. It takes far longer. The Grade 3 skills should be reviewed. Then the Grade 4 skills should be taught when the student is ready. Following competency in that, Grade 5 skills can also be achieved. However, there is no telling how long this could take during a school year. Starting early is an advantage.
Some schools perform a similar function with specialized attention (IEPs, etc.) and reassure parents that it works. During the next school year, the truth will be known. If the result is negative, the previous faculty are off the hook. The documented results on the reports will not be investigated or identified as lies. It happens, but it can’t be the end. That’s the time for parents to be proactive.
No Time for Quitters
Obstacles to executing this advice are typical. Many families find tutoring unaffordable. Others that qualify for free tutoring are not as cooperative as they could be. Numerous students are unwilling to make that extra effort despite its long-reaching benefits. The major sacrifice is that the assigned grade-level homework will be either undone or poorly done. Forward thinking proves that the skill deficit will eventually stop. The earlier in the student’s education this occurs, the easier it is to tolerate and overcome. Summer school is a recourse if needed. Quitting is an easy move. Fight!