Tag Archives: teaching ethics

Heart: How to give your students that extra boost when parents can’t

27 Nov

For the first time in my teaching career, I sat down with a parent to conference about his below-level son who was experiencing his first year in school in kindergarten, and dad told me flat-out, sorry, I can’t help. I had never had a parent tell me they could not help their child. Dad stated the facts. He and his wife work until 8:00 pm and when they get home, the kids are asleep. Hence, unable to help with academics.

My first instinct was to consider the older sister to serve as my student’s tutor. Kids like to play school at home, right? But I had anguish over the idea because in a sense I would be imposing a responsibility on the sister that maybe was unfair. Should I encourage the sister to take over some parenting responsibilities while giving the practice sanction? How much did the parents already lean on her?

We try to provide extra help during school hours. I see my colleagues pull a quick small group in the last 10 minutes before class officially starts. I see another colleague masque an extra¬†small group as “inside recess” to provide additional support. I hear about colleagues assigning peer tutors. But how do they get the student to want to take advantage of the extra support being afforded them? How are teachers able to do enough of this to get a student not making sufficient progress where he needs to be? And what if half the class needs this much support?

In contrast, it is interesting to read in Time magazine about student zeal in Korea in the article entitled “Teacher, Leave Those Kids Alone.”


Apparently, students  there want extra tutoring and sacrifice sleep and socializing in order to attain it. Schooling is so competitive that without extra support their life could literally be ruined.

Our situation is a little different because parents do not have the means or possibly the inclination to provide such support for their student even if they are not able to provide it themselves. How would a family struggling to make ends meet find the time or the resources to make it happen?