To catch up or get ahead, call a tutor

By: Kristyne E. Demske | C&G Newspapers | Published August 7, 2019

 Andrea Marble said that, whether a student is getting A’s or D’s in school, they can often benefit from tutoring.

Andrea Marble said that, whether a student is getting A’s or D’s in school, they can often benefit from tutoring.

Photo provided by Andrea Marble

METRO DETROIT — Nivas Dammalapati, of Farmington Hills, said his 10-year-old daughter, Sasha, began working with a tutor nine months ago.

He signed her up as a way to help her continue to improve in subjects that she already enjoyed in school.

“She’s a very good reader, and she has been showing very good interest in English, learning new vocabulary, grammar, spelling, things like that,” he said.

The material that Sasha uses at Eye Level Learning Center is comprehensive and engaging, he said, and she doesn’t complain about completing the workbook or going to sessions with a teacher and a few other students.

“Overall, it definitely helped us a lot in improving the vocabulary and the spelling, especially,” he said.

Dammalapati said that parents should definitely look into tutoring to help their child get ahead in school.

“This is definitely to improve and then take her to the next level,” he said. “It’s mainly to improve her current knowledge, because she has showed a lot of interest. We’d like to provide the best that we can.”

So when is it time to call a tutor?

For those asking that question, experts say that the answer is likely “now.”

“We hope that parents don’t wait until they’re failing, because we don’t want students to feel frustrated when they walk in the door. When they’re already struggling, that’s a hard place for the child,” said Tanya Nordhaus, the director of Eye Level Learning Center in Farmington.

Nordhaus said that any student can benefit from tutoring, whether they are below grade level or looking for a challenge. She has one student who is working on eighth-grade curriculum work in the fifth grade.

“She’s doing it because she loves the challenge, and we totally invite kids who want to be there for the challenge,” Nordhaus said. “What better way to nurture the love of learning than to help them challenge themselves?”

If students are beginning to struggle with a certain subject or in a certain grade, it’s always better to have them evaluated sooner rather than later, she said.

“It’s so much easier to keep up than it is to catch up, so the minute they think there’s an issue, I would rather they come in right away rather than wait till exam time and, ‘Oh my God, my kid’s getting a D!’” said Andrea Marble, the owner of Mathnasium Shelby-Lakeside.

She said that they work to fill in gaps in students’ learning while also working with them on their homework and test preparation.

“It’s less stressful for the parents than worrying about homework and grades, because we’re here to help, and it makes the kids feel so much more confident,” she said.

Nordhaus agreed.

“We encourage parents to start early on, so we can catch them and get them to their level early on,” she said. “They are usually ever so slightly below grade level, but their parents really want them to flourish in school and learn a love of learning, and they get them in early, and the kids love it.”

The majority of the students at Eye Level Learning Center are in kindergarten through fourth grade, but it serves children in preschool through eighth grade.

Marble said that they have many clients who want their students to test into advanced schools or math programs in high school.

“They’re grade-conscious. They want to do their absolute best,” she said, explaining that many students are trying to take algebra in eighth grade to be able to be placed in more advanced programs. “They need to be ahead of the game by fourth grade, for sure. They need to be in advanced math.”

Just because a student is getting A’s or B’s in math at school doesn’t mean that they truly understand the subject, she said. An assessment can locate their gaps in knowledge or understanding.

“We teach for understanding,” Marble said. “Even parents that are coming to us for just math ... the parents say it’s made such a difference in everything. It’s so amazing that their overall attitude toward school has improved. Their overall grades have improved.”

A child who feels behind in school sometimes just “shuts down,” she said, and doesn’t try even in subjects that they understand.

“They come in for a couple weeks and they turn into a different person. They come in smiling. They come in confident, and it’s awesome to see,” she said.

Nordhaus said they have special programs each summer to help kids beat the “summer slide,” but they also have students who go all year.

“I would always tell parents, ‘Don’t wait,’” Marble said. “The gaps just get bigger. Once there’s that gap, that gap continues to grow each year.”

For more information, call Eye Level Learning Center in Farmington at (248) 522-6789 or Mathnasium Shelby-Lakeside at (586) 532-6500.