My students have completed all their homework and are trying hard to improve their study habits. They’re not seeking help from their teacher so I need to find a way to help them understand why that is important.

While it is super important that students understand why this is important the understanding alone is sometimes insufficient. There is also a practical/logistical element to utilizing one’s school teacher – when, how, for how long, how often etc. Try to work on the strategy of seeking help from the teacher over a period of time (once the student appreciates why they need to do this), don’t push the student too far past their comfort zone too quickly.

Here are some ideas to discuss and some strategies to try:

  • Explain: You need to prevent them developing a dependence on you as a tutor. If they are to be successful learners in math and in life, they need to learn to seek help where they can get it, especially if a great resource is easily available.
  • Explain: Ultimately, in the small time you have with your student, you cannot possibly replace their teacher and the school classroom. It is impossible to replace hours of school practice with 1 hour of private tutoring.
  • Explain how a big challenge to improving maths skills is maintaining momentum. Help them recognise the experience they necessarily go through when they get stuck with work but wait for you to help instead of asking the teacher. Show how this ruins their momentum and how this practice makes it really easy to fall behind their class until you answer their questions in the next tutorial when you could be doing other work.
  • Explain how tutoring time is useful not just for question answering but developing crucial leaning habits such as back checking, problem solving skills, exam preparation etc. Show that utilizing their teacher more will enable you to spend more time on those skills which their teacher will not help them develop.
  • Find out their reluctance to seeing the teacher for extra help. Are they embarrassed in front of their class mates? Embarrassed in front of their teacher? Are they simply prioritizing play time?
  • Whatever the reasons are, make sure you address them honestly and seriously without disrespecting the student’s feelings. Their reasons may seem silly to you but they are completely valid from the student’s perspective. Always relate the strategy to how it can help them achieve their goals.
  • Simulate how they can approach the teacher for extra help. Simulate how they can ask questions safely in class time.
  • Make it really easy for the student to engage this strategy by making a plan for how they can do it. For example, will it be during recess or lunch or after school that they seek extra help? How often should they seek extra help? Under what circumstances is it ok for them to not seek the teacher’s help? Remove ambiguity from the process of seeking help and set a goal for how/when the student will do this.

Don’t push the student too far and make sure they are comfortable with the plan of action. If the student if very reluctant go through the ideas above over the period of several weeks in order to ease them into the concept.

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