By Drew Sarmiere - October 16, 2019
A common issue I encounter as an educator who often works with students who are experiencing academic struggles - a common occurrence when you are a private tutor and academic coach - is that both students and parents underestimate how much time and energy it is going to take in order to get students caught up and able to achieve success on their own. This issue is particularly acute for students who have learning differences (ADHD, dyslexia, dysgraphia, executive functioning problems, etc.). The purpose of this post is to help both students and parents understand that it is likely going to take more time than they expect to address academic issues in school.
Understandably, students and parents would like to reach their academic goals as quickly and easily as possible. Unfortunately, academic growth in struggling students doesn’t often occur overnight. Like the development of any other set of complicated skills and habits, it takes time and effort. And there are many factors that go into how quickly a student will improve: students’ motivation, students’ skill sets and general aptitude, parental involvement, school support, learning differences, level of material in class, frequency and length of coaching or tutoring sessions, students’ maturity, social factors, students’ busyness of schedules, and length of time the issues have persisted - just to name a few.
For a number of reasons, many families who come to Peak have waited longer than they should have before seeking out effective, private academic support. It is not uncommon for families to seek tutoring or academic coaching from Peak after academic issues and concerns have existed for years. Unfortunately, the longer issues have persisted, the longer it takes to remediate those issues. As a general rule of thumb, for every year that academic concerns have existed, particularly if they turn out to be serious, a year of significant academic support will probably be needed. So, for a child that has struggled with reading and literacy for 3 years, parents shouldn’t be too surprised that it could take 2-3 years of weekly support to get that student up to or beyond grade level. For an 8th grader who has under-achieved since 6th grade, lhe resulting academic coaching intervention will likely continue from 8th grade into 10th grade. Again, the longer the issues persist without effective intervention, the longer it will take to fix them.
The good news is that there’s something that can be done to prevent this: early intervention. If you have concerns about your child’s academic progress, or if the school expresses concerns, effective interventions should be taken immediately. These interventions could include extra help from the teacher inside or outside of the classroom, additional school interventions, a psychoeducational evaluation, an IEP or 504, private tutoring or academic coaching, additional support and structure at home from parents, and/or other avenues of support. In short, the “wait and see” approach usually leads to greater academic difficulties that are harder to address - you are better safe than sorry and intervene early. If your interventions turn out to be more than necessary, you can cut back.
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