A recent piece in The Atlantic Magazine, Why Parents Need To Let Their Children Fail, touches on the non-content related goals of education and ways that overzealous parents can sometimes short-circuit them. The gist of the article, that the possibility of occasional failure must be allowed by parents, caused us to again reflect on the role that we believe effective tutoring should play and how that perspective informs our approach with students.
In a prior post, we touched on the balance that we believe effective tutoring should strike between facilitation and struggle, and some examples of ways we use to maintain a balance that ultimately leads a student forward. The idea is to incrementally provide what a student may need, bolstering confidence, while allowing for enough challenge to help a student acquire new skills and learning that lead to mastery and independence.
A similarly delicate balance should be sought when trying to scaffold students to acquire personal responsibility taking, planning skills and time management mastery. To be clear however, each student is unique. The balance that is right for one student may not be right for another, especially if that student struggles with extenuating conditions such as ADHD or issues with executive functioning. That’s one reason why a custom approach can be helpful.
As the article correctly points out, furthering a student’s confidence and promoting an education in independence are paramount. This means that students need to be given the opportunity to solve their own problems and draw their own conclusions, while risking the possibility of failure. This can be an uncomfortable balance to allow when a parent wants the student to experience success. We believe that the trick is in reminding oneself that “success” should be defined broadly enough to look beyond the immediate result of a grade achieved on a particular assignment.
Communication with a student’s educators is key in achieving this balance needed to facilitate the above. Talk to your student’s teachers and tutors so that expectations are clear and that what happens at home and in the instructional setting are consistent.