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Parent to Parent: Getting extra help in math for kids
Parent to Parent

Parent to Parent: Getting extra help in math for kids

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Q • My fifth-grader is struggling in math, and I'm not sure why. Before the pandemic, he made good grades in math. My sister has two middle school kids who are also having a difficult time in math and other subjects such as science. We've looked into tutors, but they are super expensive. What are some other alternatives to getting them help without breaking our budget?

From a reader • We used a high school student in our neighborhood for several years for our kids. He was very good in math and made a lasting impression on them. Sometimes, it takes someone a little closer to their age to teach kids certain academics because they don't feel so embarrassed to ask questions. — Shayne R. in Little Rock, Arkansas

From Jodie Lynn • Kids as well as adults went through difficult times last year and some are still experiencing various types of hardships and new challenges in several areas this year. You and your sister are certainly not alone in having kids who are struggling in specific academic areas, especially math and science. In fact, I frequently get questions about it.

There are several options to choose from that may be able to keep you within your budget. For example, there are some brick-and-mortar facilities, online companies and even personal tutors that will give a group discount for two or more kids who sign up for their professional services.

Before you make a choice, you will most definitely have to get with your sister and together decide exactly what each child will need. Asking the kids' teachers for their input should be a good place to start. Once that information is in hand, you'll need to research your choices before making the best one.

Unless you know someone who has personally used a company or a one-on-one tutor and can vouch for them, don't skip on calling/checking references. This is an important step that people have a tendency to forgo.

Don't forget to also ask teachers at each school if anyone there tutors or if they may have a friend that does. Recommendations from friends, family and professionals are almost always a good way to find just about anything you need. In fact, don't overlook the possibility of securing help by calling local colleges, specifically the junior colleges. Some will actually let you put up a flier with your number with a description of what you're looking for.

If you feel things will work out better with a personal, in-person tutor who will come to your house or who will meet the children in a public place, always ask those individuals that you're interviewing which scenario seems to be more conducive to a good learning environment and why.

After the kids start their tutoring, give it a little time to work out before rushing in and thinking that it's a lost cause. Once they connect with the new person, the new regimen will become the normal one and hopefully they'll be able to catch up.


I know people are already in a frenzy about buying holiday gifts due to shortages and such, but we are not able to do this, especially with our unpredictable income. We really need to make smart choices. Which gift ideas will be wise buys for our kids, friends and relatives this year?

To share parenting tips or submit questions, write to: Parent to Parent, 2464 Taylor Road, Suite 131, Wildwood, MO 63040. Email:, or go to, which provides a secure and easy way to submit tips or questions. All tips must have city, state and first and last name or initials to be included in the column.

Jodie Lynn is an award-winning parenting columnist, author of five books and mother to three children. She and her family live in Wildwood.


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