Study Skills vs. Tutoring

“When would I want an Executive Function / Study Skills Coach vs. tutoring?”

This is a good question, and an important one.

Some Background: The Executive Function Gap

Over the last 10 – 15 years, schools have gotten more and more competitive. The curriculum has ramped with increasingly rigorous “content”. Foreign language is being taught earlier, math “paths” have gotten more aggressive, more Honors and AP classes are “required” to get in to the most competitive colleges. And while, students may be intellectually prepared for this content, their executive function (aka “organizational readiness”) is often not prepared to manage this load.

Who taught our kids how to study?

As more and more “content” was pushed in to the curriculum, the time previously devoted to teaching students “how to study” was pushed out. Very little time is devoted to teaching our students how to break down their homework into manageable “chunks”, how to properly take notes, make a study guide, or how to prioritize which work is most important to do and when. As a result, many students hit an organizational “wall” at a certain point of intellectual challenge, regardless of how smart they are or how well they have done in the past.

So while schools ramped up the curriculum, they didn’t consider that students’ frontal lobe development may not be ready for managing that workload. Once they realized that there was a problem, they never added study skills back in to the curriculum. What we see as a result are students struggling with “process” (across their subjects) vs. “content” (aka need for specific subject-matter support).

Ever had a bad manager?

The analogy is very similar to a newly appointed manager in a job. While they may have “mastered” their sales, accounting or engineering skills, they may not have learned the managerial skills to manage a broader set of people or to plan and manage projects. They may not need a “tutor” for their day job, but instead, they can benefit from a “coach” to learn the tools and strategies for how to manage the newer aspects of their work.

Consider these three questions when determining if your child would benefit most from coaching or tutoring.

1. Is your child challenged in one particular subject or across several subjects?
Students who are having challenges grasping a new math or science concept, or need additional help in a foreign language present a different challenge than one who has difficulty planning, managing, and/or completing work across many subjects.

If your child is showing signs of stress due to:

  • an inability to break work down in to smaller pieces to make it more manageable,
  • planning and effectively managing their workload,
  • understanding how long a project will take, and/or
  • communicating, retaining or retrieving information,
  • they will need to learn skills and approaches around the PROCESS of learning vs. the CONTENT in one particular subject.

    2. Does your child need to learn to become a more independent learner?
    The goal of an Executive Function coach is to help a student take charge of their own learning. We call it “learned independence.” The goal is to move the conversation from “How can I help you?” to “What do you need from me to help you on YOUR plan?” We focus on providing the skills that transform a student into a more effective, independent, and motivated learner and to transfer the responsibility of that success from the parent (or tutor) to the student.

    3. Is your child undergoing a significant transition?
    Whether transitioning to a new school, a new grade, or now taking honors or AP classes, when curriculum gets more challenging and schools are demanding higher performance, students gain confidence through learning new strategies for managing their work. Strong Executive Function and study skills are the key to consistent academic achievement and will allow students to carry that heavier load.

    A strong “study skills” foundation gives students an edge by teaching them how to best:

    Manage time

    Organize thoughts and materials

    Plan and prioritize work

    Get started

    Stay on track

    Remember what to do and do it

    Problem solve, and

    Learn from mistakes

    Many students graduate from our our 5-day program and are fully prepared to take on the demands of their academic workload with no additional coaching required. We think that is great!

    Others, may want or need more “practice” with these skills.
    In our “Coached” Homework Center:

  • We use student’s current academic assignments – be it a research paper, a test, or a project – to practice the skills that they have learned.
  • We help students establish new, positive habits that put them in charge of managing and completing their work.
  • We help them learn to advocate for their own academic success.
  • For those who desire more individualized help, we provide 1:1 Coaching in conjunction with our Homework Center.

    Enroll your student in our 5-Session Study Skills Program: