How Much Help Is Too Much Help?

How do you know if you’re having the appropriate level of involvement when helping your child with schoolwork?  I recommend keeping the following points in mind:

  • Don’t do anything for a student that he could be doing himself.
  • Your goal is to build the student’s skill set.  He or she should come away from your interactions with increased independence.
  • Ask yourself: Is this process/activity/appointment empowering the student?  (It should be.)
  • Ask yourself: Is this process/activity/appointment making the student dependent on tutoring?  (It shouldn’t be.)
  • Remember to ask questions that will guide a student toward the proper revisions rather than directing.  E.g., Try to start with: “Have you already read through the paper for proper comma use?”  Rather than: “Please correct your comma use in the third sentence.”  (Of course, this assumes that the student is already familiar with the comma rule relevant to the third sentence and could spot the error independently.)
Think about tutoring as a form of sustainable development; you want to assist short-term while you transfer the resources that allow the entity–in this case, a student–to support itself long-term.

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