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Tutoring – Investment or Burdensome Expense?

Written By Geoff Nixon . April 3, 2023

Are you spending too much on tutoring to keep up?

The impulse when your child struggles with homework or needs help with a test is to get a tutor.  Tutoring represents direct action and so it fits. However, once the reliance on tutoring starts, it can become a treadmill and a crutch – for you and for your child.

Most tutoring does not impact cognitive or learning skills. It does not address the delays that hold children back and so it becomes a recurring expense, not an investment in a better future for your child.

Glimpse Into One Social Media Group

With this in mind, we were struck by an interesting question we saw in a social media group recently:

“Curious – what are most people spending a month on tutoring?”

There were hundreds of replies. Some responses described interventions – therapies and programs like LearningRX and Gemm Learning – but most were tutors who help with homework, preparing for tests and the like – a monthly expense to help a child keep up week to week, sometimes tax deductible.

Across all responses, the median spend was $600 a month. We understand this is a highly flawed number. It’s a small sample, it includes remote and in person tutoring, tutor rates vary dramatically by region and it mixes in some high priced interventions.  Plus this was a group of proactive families dealing with recognized learning difficulties, and so the spend is most probably higher.

However, $600 a month, $7,200 annually, is quite a burden for a family.  Even more so, when you factor in that much of this spending is not aiming to be a one-time effort, but rather is an ongoing cost to help a child cope.

Most Tutoring is Short Term Focused

in 2021, Technavio estimates that tutoring was a $21 billion market.  The vast majority of this revenue is spent not on interventions, but rather on homework and learning support – focused on near term goals such as an assignment due date or a test.

Providing tutoring  that focuses on homework and learning support is a good business because it tends to be recurring.  It can bolster confidence which is helpful, or it can help get over natural learning humps, such as getting equilateral triangles or some such, that tutoring is good for, but in general there is no intentional targeting of the cognitive or learning skill gaps that hold most children back.

And so it’s the tutoring business model – to be a recurring expense that you and your child rely on.

Choose Tutoring With a Mission – Invest Not Spend

Tutoring that aims to fix underlying delays is better for two big reasons:

  1. Happier child.  Most children would prefer to be confident learners and to not need a tutor every week
  2. Saves money.  Interventions aim to be one-time costs that if successful save future tutoring

There is a considerable body of research indicating that tutoring or programs that are learning interventions can be effective in improving academic outcomes for students.

The research shows that the interventions that are targeted and individualized to the specific needs of the student, which can help to address gaps in knowledge, build skills and confidence, and improve overall academic performance.  For instance, research on Fast ForWord here and LearningRX here.

Gemm Learning is an investment

It’s a one intervention that has a good record in improving long term outcomes.  We use Fast ForWord, a cognitive program focused mainly on students with inefficient language processing.  Our students average 2+ years of reading gain in 6-7 months, with continued learning acceleration reported by clients after program completion.

As with other interventions, our success rate depends in large part on our success in identifying students we can help, and referring other students elsewhere. If you’d like to find out if your child is candidate for our program, please call for a free consult.

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