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Breaking Barriers Without Breaking the Bank

By: Lisamarie Sanders
When you see your child struggling, you want to jump in and help, but sometimes your instincts and desire aren't enough. When your child has trouble with schoolwork and a tutor is necessary, one of the biggest roadblocks to getting help is money.

Dr. Mark Ryan, Assistant Professor in the School of Education at California's National University, says, "Unfortunately, the kids who need tutoring services most are often the same kids who can't afford to pay the fees."

Although the price for tutoring generally runs between $10 and $50 per session, not having the money doesn't mean your child is doomed to fail. There are a number of ways you can get help without breaking the bank:

No Child Left Behind (NCLB). Under this new federal legislation, signed into law in 2001, funds may be used to give some children free tutoring help or "supplemental services." Your child must need academic help and must attend a school that receives Title I* funds and fails to make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) for three or more years.

Tutor your child yourself. This is a great money-saving solution as long as you have three things: thorough knowledge of the material, the patience to teach your child at his level and speed, and the commitment to make it work. Missing any of these pieces will lead to frustration for both you and your child.

Use a friend or family member. Many times a parent is too close to the situation to be an effective teacher. If this is the case, ask a relative or close friend if he would be willing to help your child.

Ask her teacher to be her tutor. Teachers are often overworked and underpaid, but they continue teaching because of their love for children and their desire to help them succeed. Your child's teacher knows exactly what academic help your child needs, and may be willing to provide it if you ask.

Check with local churches or community centers. Many offer free tutoring services by volunteers, some of whom are retired teachers.

Have an older child tutor your child. Also called mentoring, using an older student to teach a younger one benefits both children. The younger gets the extra attention and help he needs, while the older gains increased self-confidence and self-esteem. It's a win-win situation.

Go to college. Ask professors at a local college or university to recommend students who are enrolled in child development or education programs. These future teachers may charge a small fee, but you'll be getting the freshest teaching for your child. As an added bonus, the students have a support network of professors and peers to go to for ideas and help.

Use the barter system. Ancient civilizations had a great idea when they started trading with each other. And it still works today. Instead of trading money for tutoring, you could trade services, like babysitting or running errands. Find out what your tutor needs and ask if there's a way you can help each other without exchanging greenbacks.

Be creative and think "outside the box" to find ways to get the help your child needs. Most tutors do it to help children, not to become millionaires. Don't be afraid to discuss the barriers you face and work with others to find a solution.

Endnotes

Endnotes

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*Title I - schools receive federal funds to help low-income, at-risk students achieve academically. Ask your child's principal if you qualify.

Under copyright by Partnership For Learning, a national award-winning nonprofit at www.PartnershipForLearning.org. Reprinted with permission.

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