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To a student or parent, tutoring might feel like a consequence of having fallen behind in a subject. But the resources and personnel at National Heritage Academies schools make that extra help just another component of a Moral Focus-based curriculum.

“This is a steppingstone to help you get where you’re going,” said Liz Newton, dean of early elementary at PrepNet Virtual Academy, an online virtual school. “It’s taking you forward.”

The Why and When of Tutoring
But how do you know if your child needs tutoring? One way is by staying connected. NHA charter schools, which are tuition-free public schools that have the quality of a private school education without the cost, help students achieve academic excellence by keeping parents in-the-know with the Parent Portal, which allows them to monitor their child’s grades or performance online. They also can stay up to date by emailing teachers and receiving important notifications.

James Lunga, a dean at Grand River Preparatory High School, said that along with in-class measuring points, a student’s confidence in the material can be a sign that they might benefit from tutoring. He suggests asking them how they feel about a subject; their response to a given prompt and recall of the knowledge can be an indicator that they might need help even if their grades might suggest otherwise.

“Even if a student is doing decently in a subject, if they’re not feeling good, even if they are learning and they’re getting the material, coming to tutoring to hash out some questions or air out those concerns helps,” he said.
The timing of getting tutoring can be just as important as the act itself of getting tutoring. Lunga said before and after tests are the best time for students to get extra help.

“We’re trying to not encourage cramming and bad habits, but we do also want to start building that idea of urgency, ‘I have something coming up, I need to get help,’” he said. “The sooner the better.”

Taking Action
Staying connected online is a modern frame of reference, but having a conversation with your child or student is tried and true. First, have the child do some homework independently, observe their body language while working, and then talk with them about their work.

If a parent’s first instinct is that their child might need tutoring, they might be jumping to conclusions. Newton recommends having a conversation with a teacher first instead of asking for a tutor. Oftentimes parents are the ones who ask for tutoring, but after talking with a teacher are told it isn’t necessary.

“If the child is expressing a lot of anxiety about the work, sometimes the child just needs encouragement,” Newton said. “That can also be an indicator that they’re having a hard time, especially for younger students that can’t express it fully.”

If a teacher recommends tutoring for a child, it should not be looked at as them being bad at a subject, but rather an additional resource. For both parents and children, they should not fear that tutoring is going to hold them back, but instead see that it will help them achieve the goals the child has for themselves and those the parent has for the child.

“All of our students need building blocks, and helping your child get the building blocks helps them get to the end goal,” Newton said. “They can't cross the bridge without the building block.”

About National Heritage Academies:
National Heritage Academies (NHA) is a network of over 100 tuition-free, public charter schools across nine states, serving more than 65,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade. For more information, visit

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