When Is It Time to Seek a Tutor?: Philadelphia Family Magazine Feature

September 17, 2013 

Last week A+ Test Prep and Tutoring president Daniel Ascher, M.Ed. was featured in Philadelphia Family Magazine‘s Asked and Answered article, “When Is It Time to Seek a Tutor?”


Asked & Answered: When Is It Time to Seek a Tutor?

We want our kids to succeed, but we don’t want to make them feel pressured. If poor test grades or frustrating homework sessions are part of your daily routine, our expert helps understand how to help and when they need more.

Photo by Chloe Sherman-Pepe
Tutor 2013

Question: I’m not sure how to tell if my child needs a tutor. What can I try at home to help? What signs should I watch for indicating he needs more help?

Expert: Daniel Ascher, M.Ed., is president of A+ Test Prep and Tutoring, which provides one-to-one tutoring to over 600 clients in the Philadelphia area. A+ employs 65 professional tutors, who offer instruction in all school subjects, SAT and ACT prep, and study skills. A+ tutors meet with students at home, at schools throughout the Delaware Valley, and are also available for one-to-one instruction through an online virtual classroom.

Answer: Most students struggle at one point or another during their years in school. Make sure your child feels comfortable telling you if something is difficult or confusing.

The best thing parents can do to keep track of progress in school is communicate regularly with their child’s teachers. Teachers can provide feedback on progress, on areas where a student needs improvement, and may be able to recommend resources for work at home.

In addition, parents should monitor their child’s work to determine if the child is functioning within his “sweet spot” of learning, in which he is sufficiently challenged by his schoolwork, but is not overwhelmed or falling behind.

Finally, keep in mind that some students will be resistant to receiving help from a parent or other family member. Even the best teacher or tutor may at times have difficulty working with her own children. In these situations, hiring an outside tutor may be just what is needed to help your child and to keep the peace in your family.

Here are a few areas you’ll want to pay close attention to as your student advances in school:


  • Kindergarten: At this age, there is a wide range of “normal” ability levels, so be careful not to intervene too quickly. However, by the end of Kindergarten, your child should be able to identify numbers, name all of the capital and lowercase letters, and identify some words by sight.
  • Grades 1 through 3: Monitor your child’s vocabulary, comprehension, and reading level. If any of these areas are weak, consult his teacher for recommendations. Tutoring may be indicated if he is more than one grade level behind in either word identification or reading comprehension.

Note: If your child appears to be doing well with the “mechanics” of reading, but she doesn’t understand what she’s reading, you’ll want to dig deeper to discover what’s causing the problem. Request a consultation with the reading specialist at her school, or consult an educational diagnostician.

  • End of 3rd grade: Students are expected to transition from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.” As you get closer to this point, seek help if your child is still having trouble with the mechanics of reading (fluency, sounding words out).
  • Middle school: Read a page or two of your child’s reading material and ask her questions about what you’ve read. See if she can easily answer questions: “Who? What? Where? Why? When? How?” This will provide you with some basic information about her comprehension and ability to understand text appropriate to her grade level.

Writing Skills

At all levels of education, writing is the most complex task your child will be required to do. Writing requires students to use critical thinking, organization, vocabulary, grammar, punctuation, planning, and wide range of other skills. It’s common for students to have difficulty with one or more aspects of the writing process. Support is often required, even for the best students.


  • The most common arithmetic topic that students have difficulty with is fractions. Getting an early start on practicing fractions, for example while eating a pizza, will really help when the topic shows up in class.
  • Another area students often struggle with is word problems. Sometimes students need instruction on how to read, understand, and plan a solution.
  • If your child struggles to learn or retain basic algebra concepts covered in Pre-algebra and Algebra I, the problem is not going to go away. All future math courses will require a firm grasp of these concepts. If caught early, some tutoring during this time will solve the root problem before it becomes a larger issue.

To read more articles from Philadelphia Family Magazine, visit http://philafamilymag.com.


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