Schools Provide Free Study Help

Early in the school year, if your child seems to struggle with a particular subject or study skills in general, don’t wait to seek help. Often, you don’t need to look any farther than your child’s school for help.

Most Delaware Valley schools offer many types of support, focused on the student’s individual needs. Usually these offerings are free of charge. Here are examples of study support offered by area schools.

Courses and Programs

Many schools build study skills into their curriculum. In some locales, municipal and community groups provide study programs.

AVID. Offered during the school day in many districts, AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) provides students with a culture that supports college readiness, according to Donald Patton, the principal of Byron Middle School in Wilmington, DE. Students learn specific organizational processes through an hour-long class every school day.

WICR. Part of the AVID program, students receive strategies in writ­ing, inquiry, collaboration and read-ing. Through this consistent and pervasive program, kids can expect similar learning strategies in all classes.

Municipal programs. The Voorhees (NJ) Community Education and Recreation Department offers incoming 6th graders a five-day course to prepare them for the middle school transition. Called Mastering 6th Grade, it helps students prepare for middle school, including finding their way around, organization, study tips, stress-busters, goal-setting and even lockers. The course is offered in the summer for a $75 fee.

After-school help. Some community organizations provide study help. For example, at the Bethel Academy, located adjacent to the AME Church in Ardmore, educators provide after-school help for Lower Merion School District students at no cost.

Tips for Parents

Children entering middle school are expected to have a basic foundation of study skills.

Voorhees Middle School counselor Lawrence Osborne suggests parents use these opportunities to see if their child needs extra help.

Attend back-to-school-night and parent-teacher conferences to pinpoint problem areas and solutions to address them.

Check your child’s grades and attendance online. (See Plugged In Parents Monitor Grades & Asssignments.) If you don’t know how, ask your child’s teacher or guidance counselor.

• If you notice your child struggling with a unit or project, seek help through teacher or peer tutoring. Don’t wait.

Counselors, Specialists and Librarians

At most schools, counselors or resource specialists are available to help students with many needs, from choosing classes to brushing up on organizational skills.

1-on-1 support. At Voorhees Middle School, guidance counselors meet with students to discover their specific weaknesses and help guide them to take ownership in effective skills and strategies, says Lawrence Osborne, a 7th grade counselor.

Specialists. The role of the reading and math specialists and librarians is important in teaching students test skills and in providing shortcuts and lessons in how to study effetively, points out Bruce I. Barner, supervisor of guidance for the Lower Merion School District.

Achievement teams. Lower Merion’s schools have achievement teams who work with students on organizational skills, critical thinking and problem-solving skills in a multi-faceted response to the needs of that child.

Private tutors. For students still seeking additional support, many guidance offices provide lists of outside tutors who charge various fees for their services.

Teacher-guided help. Most schools allow individual teachers to set their own extra help hours, but all teachers are expected to hold help sessions on announced days before or after school. Some schools provide periods during the school day when students can seek extra help for specific projects or concepts.

Peer Tutoring

Many schools have organized students more advanced in particular subjects to help other students who are struggling.

In a Voorhees program called Students Supporting Each Other, student tutors offer coaching for specific subjects. In the early part of the school year when anxiety can be high for new students, the program provides help with study skills and organization.

As a service learning project at many schools, National Honor Society students provide tutoring to students who sign up for extra help. Some schools, including Byron Middle School in Wilmington, organize student visits to local Elementary Schools to provide instruction and support.

Terri Akman is a local freelance writer.

Categories: Education Features