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Are You Caught In Tutoring Craze?

All parents want the best for their kids, and often times that means wanting them to be at the top of their class in school. Nowadays, though, many parents are hiring tutors for their children even before they've started school

Miriam Arond, the editor-in-chief of Child magazine tells The Early Show co-anchor Hannah Storm that as early as age 3, children are being tutored.

"The increase in this skyrocketing trend is due to parents wanting their kids to have a leg up," she says. "Parents feel that this is a competitive world and they want their kids to succeed."

Besides having a competitive mindset, parents may also find it convenient to hire a tutor if both parents work and don't have enough time to help their own children with their homework.

"You don't want to do that," Around says. "You want to have input into your child. Your child needs to know this is important to you."

Other parents are falling victim to peer pressure.

"If you're doing it just because all the other parents are doing it," Around says, "then you have to think there's something wrong with this picture."

At age 3 or 4, Arond says kids should be playing and exploring, not having their heads crammed with facts. She says it is important for parents not fall into the trap that the child needs to recite things at the age of 4.

Arond says that some parents do not trust the natural development of the child.

"Everyone wants a valedictorian and for their kids to go to Harvard," she says. "But there are late bloomers and parents need to know that they shouldn't panic if the child isn't a supremely top student from the first day. The fact may be that the child is a great musician and not a great student, at all, and lots of kids actually evolve into great students."

Arond says that just because Kaplan, which is known for its tutoring classes for the SATs and other advance testing, has a division called "Score!" for kids ages 3 to 7, parents should not be eager to get a tutor. In fact, getting a tutor may send the wrong message to your child.

"We have to be very careful not to over schedule them," Arond says. "They are in classes many hours a day and have homework. If your child is doing OK and you're sending them to tutoring, you're sending a message they're not OK, and increasing their insecurity."

Ask around
So how do you know if your child needs a tutor? Arond says if your child has a learning disability, by all means get one. Otherwise, she says that before you go to a tutoring center, wait until your child is in school and talk with the teacher.

"I would, first of all, speak to the school, speak to the teacher," Around says. "Find out exactly what are the weaknesses. Do they have anybody in mind, somebody who has taught at the school who has real experience? I would also ask other parents who their child has succeeded with. I think you can go to the large centers, but I would use your large resources first just in your neighborhood."

Factor in personality
Once you have determined that your child needs a tutor it is important to make sure the person you hire has the right personality for your child.

"One of the times you might hire a tutor is if your teacher is someone your child doesn't get along," she says. "You sometimes don't have control over that but you do over a tutor. Somebody may be more playful, have a softer touch, more structure. Look for somebody who will be right for your child."

Discuss expectations
The tutor has to feel that he or she is aiming towards the same goals you are.

Monitor the situation
Arond says make sure the teacher is seeing progress and continue to make sure that the child is happy with this situation and this is a positive in his or her life.

Some children will start feeling better about going to school and are more confident about learning. Some tutors teach ahead so they will take that lesson in easier when it's taught.

"Take your cues from the child," Arond says. "If your child is not responding well — acting up — this is not right. Maybe the child doesn't need the tutoring, maybe it is too much or maybe you need to switch tutors."

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