Education Cheat Sheet: When Do You Need a Tutor?

When homework challenges become homework struggles is it time to find outside help?


Editor’s Note: We all want our kids to succeed. But how can you tell when homework becomes a struggle instead of a challenge? When should you seek outside help such as a tutor? Windward Nazarene Academy vice principal and math teacher Nathan Yoshida has some insight.


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“Help” is not a word that we use often. If you’re stubborn like me, then you wait until all other options have been exhausted before asking for assistance. When it comes to lifting things, sometimes the pain is excruciating. Even your spouse says, “I think you should get help.” But ignore it until you can’t anymore.


Kids are the same way when it comes to school. They may realize they need help but don’t want to or know how to ask. Like adults, they will try to act like nothing is wrong. But here are some signs that might indicate that your child may need a tutor.


Sign #1: The help isn’t helping anymore

Most students need a little extra explanation from time to time, and teachers usually have systems in place to provide that whether it’s in-class homework time or peer-to-peer study groups. But if a child who normally responds well to these is still struggling, then it could indicate the need for a different approach.


Sign #2: He or she says, “I hate ______.”

“I hate math.” As a middle school math teacher for 13 years, I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve heard those three words. But after several bruises to my ego, I began to realize that when most children say they hate a subject, especially if they generally didn’t before, then it could be because they are having a really difficult time and don’t know what to do. (Unless its geometry. For some reason all students hate geometry.)


Sign #3: Refusing to do homework

This is a tricky one because there could be several reasons for assignments go uncompleted. But sometimes when a child who normally finishes homework on time suddenly stops, it might be a cry for help.


Sign #4: The hard work isn’t paying off

Not every student is good at every subject. But if a child is doing everything he or she is supposed to do to get better (paying attention in class, working diligently to complete assignments, studying hard for tests, attending study groups, etc.) without seeing improvement, then tutoring may be the answer. It’s important for parents and teachers to recognize this sign early before the child gets too discouraged or feels like giving up.


It is important to remember that these signs do not always mean tutoring is the next step. Start by talking with your child’s teacher. Usually, teachers have a good sense of how students are doing compared to others and how to provide help. If you do decide to get a tutor for your child, tell his or her teacher. The decision should always be made together because teachers and parents both want to see kids succeed.


Parent Homework

  • Identify your child’s learning styles (link below). This can point you to the best ways to you can help your child when he or she is struggling with a particular concept.
  • Ask your child’s teachers if there are any difficult concepts that are being or about to be taught in class and how you might be able to assist at home explaining those ideas


Parent Resources


Nathan Yoshida is the middle school math teacher and vice principal at Windward Nazarene Academy. Located in the heart of Kāne‘ohe, WNA provides a quality education surrounded by Christian values. Follow WNA on Facebook @WNAhawaii or visit