The first student I ever had was a ten-year-old girl named Rina. I was only in my early twenties, and I mostly mimicked what I saw my mother do in her own tutoring sessions. As Rina grew up, we stayed in contact through her high school and college years. Nearly two decades later, Rina brought her first child to me for in-person tutoring at our old building in downtown Pennsauken. Seeing Rina’s smiling face replicated on her daughter was a special and invaluable moment for me.
Something that makes Tailored Tutoring unique is that we are a small, family-owned business. We understand that familial support plays an essential role in a child’s education. We are so grateful when we get the opportunity to work with multiple generations of the same family. When a company is invested in an entire community, we get to see the long-term impact of our programs and curriculum. It means we are being entrusted with children, parents, and grandparents, and we don’t take that task lightly. Thank you to our clients who continue to support and trust us with their families’ educational needs.
By Shawn R. Jones
When I tutor, some of my students’ questions and thoughts genuinely surprise me. At ages as young as four-years-old, they wonder about money, politics, religion, and culture. One student, barely taller than the table we worked at, looked at me with sad eyes and said unprompted, “I don’t like my skin.” She explained that no one else in her family was as brown as her, and I could see how deflated she felt. We spent the rest of the lesson talking about her beauty and the prejudice of colorism. I talked with her mother after the session. “Yes,” she said with a deep sigh. “We’ve been having a lot of conversations lately. I don’t feel ready.”
As a parent and an educator, I know that feeling of being caught off-guard. On many occasions, my children have approached me with questions whose answers I could only fumble through. But there were some difficult conversations that I knew I wanted to address with my children early on. I wanted to talk to them about their heritage as multigenerational Black Americans. I wanted to tell them about slavery and equity. Even though my language when talking to my children about American history was simplified, I didn’t want to be indirect.
I remember my own elementary education and how textbooks erased so much of American history. And while I understand the desire to keep children shielded from the negativity of life, honest and open conversations about race, prejudice, and anything else do not have to be gruesome or scarring. Especially during the holiday season when discussions about the violence of colonization and indigenous people’s suffering is reduced to pictures of headdresses and pilgrim hats, it’s important to speak with our children directly. We can tell them that people have been hurt and continue to be hurt because of prejudice. That showing compassion and kindness toward other people doesn’t just mean pretending not to see different skin tones. We should tell them how for generations, people haven’t received the fair treatment they deserve.
Children are capable of hearing conflict and having difficult discussions. They hear them everyday in their TV shows, at school, and at home. I can’t say the right time to talk to children about these challenging topics because parents and guardians know their children best, but I do know that children, like adults, can learn and grow from speaking openly. I know that they think about prejudice before they sometimes have the language to express it, and I hope that as adults, we can help guide them through these bumps even when we’re still uncertain ourselves.
By Shawn R. Jones
How long have you been tutoring? What’s your favorite subject to tutor?
I have been a tutor for a little over 5 years! I really enjoy how straightforward math can be, but I really enjoy noticing the long term differences when it comes to reading fluency.
What are the benefits of one-on-one tutoring compared to larger educational settings like classrooms?
Compared to classrooms, one-on-one tutoring allows students to be more open with their thoughts and feelings as well as have someone pay more attention to those same feelings. Most kids might feel intimidated when asking questions in the classroom because of what their peers might think, however, one-on-one tutoring can shrink those pressures.
What’s something you enjoy about working at Tailored Tutoring LLC? What makes it stand out as a company?
I enjoy working at Tailored Tutoring LLC because not only does everyone truly care about education, but they also care about the well being of every student. The name of the company truly fits, and makes it stand out because Tailored Tutoring adjusts to meet the needs of children so they can ultimately meet success, instead of forcing children to fit a mold that may fail them.
What’s been one of your favorite experiences as a tutor so far?
Seeing the immediate impact tutoring sessions can have on a student’s confidence is my favorite thing about tutoring. I like hearing stories of students being more attentive simply because they know they now have someone who will answer any questions they have without judgement.
At Tailored Tutoring LLC, we love to work with students of all ages and learning styles. Sometimes we even get the exciting opportunity to serve multiple generations in one family. From parents to grandparents, we work with a diverse range of clients who are returning to school, studying for professional exams, or striving to improve their writing and arithmetic skills. Sometimes there is a stigma around adult learners that says people of a certain age are too old to learn or gain new skills, but at Tailored Tutoring, we know there is no wrong time for education.
Many adult learners are balancing the responsibilities of daily life with exams, homework, and assignments. Because of the sheer business of their schedules, adult learners are very serious about getting the most out of their educational opportunities. They are determined to be active participants in the classroom who ask questions when they are uncertain and communicate openly and directly with their teachers.
Especially in higher education, the academic landscape is becoming increasingly diverse in age. As tutors, we want to serve all students with compassion and let them know that whenever they feel ready, it’s the perfect time to learn!
By Tailored Tutoring’s Writing Staff
At Tailored Tutoring LLC, our students have diverse personalities, backgrounds, and learning styles. Our priority is to celebrate our students’ identities through education. With that goal in mind, our curriculum highlights books and assignments that prominently feature characters and people with a variety of identities. One book our students really enjoy is I Am Enough by Grace Byers and Keturah A. Bobo. I Am Enough is a colorful and inspiring tribute to diversity and community. This book for younger readers includes girls of different shades, sizes, religions, and ability levels. After reading I Am Enough, your child or student may want to talk more about what individuality and identity means to them. Even if children do not have the same vocabulary and language for some of these terms, they can see differences between themselves, their peers, and their families. In a world that sometimes equates differences with value, I Am Enough sends the positive message that our identities are what make us so incredible and that in every single way, they deserve to be celebrated!
By Tailored Tutoring’s Writing Staff
For many students, being back in school means the return of test anxiety. In some children, this may manifest as an upset stomach or even bad nerves that impact their test performance. How can we, as adults, help relieve some of our children’s fears around exams and assessments?
Provide context for your child:
Many children think that tests measure intelligence. If they don’t get a certain grade or percentage, children may feel insecure or inadequate. While tests may be an indicator of a child’s progress or how much they’ve grasped a certain skill, our intelligence cannot be reduced to a number. Educators around the world debate the efficacy of tests for students of diverse backgrounds and learning styles. Remind your children that tests are not the be-all and end-all when it comes to education. Many smart and innovative people struggle under the time constraints and pressures of an exam. The most important thing we can stress to our child is to try their best and to remember that no one’s worth or intelligence can be simplified to a letter grade.
Help your child prepare:
How does your child prefer to study? Do they enjoy using flashcards or making a study guide? Depending on the subjects, there are many resources online that can make studying less daunting for your child. Help them come up with habits that work for them by trying out a variety of study methods. Some students prefer to highlight as they read, others like to stand up and move when they practice their multiplication facts. It can take years for a student to develop a system that works best for them, so be patient and encourage your child to try new approaches.
Communication with teachers:
For younger students in a smaller classroom, it may be easier for a teacher to notice when a student is fidgeting or having a hard time with a test. But in larger classrooms, it may be a challenge for the teacher to check in with every individual student. Additionally, students may feel less comfortable speaking up and sharing their anxieties around their peers. For younger students, it’s helpful if parents or guardians communicate to the teacher any concerns they may have that will affect their child’s experiences in the classroom. It’s also essential that the students talk to the instructor directly, but this may be more difficult with children in elementary and middle school. In high school and in college, professors have more of an expectation that students will communicate clearly about their experiences in the classroom. No matter what age your student is, teachers can be great resources and advocates to turn to when test anxiety strikes.
I’ve been teaching others to read for 30 years. At first, my role as an educator started with my younger siblings. I’d read word problems to them and teach them the complicated phonics of independent reading books. Through long division and bedtime stories, I not only educated my siblings, I got to know them as individuals. I learned that my brother loved to read about games, that my younger sister enjoyed mysteries, and my second eldest sibling couldn’t get enough of fantasy. When they read things they loved, they couldn’t put the books down.
When I had children of my own, I remembered the lesson my siblings taught me, educating shouldn’t be punishing, burdensome, or discouraging. It should be an act of love. When I sat with my own children, we read what they loved. We navigated through the mazes of libraries and bookstores, searching for video game guides and the newest YA series. And when I sit down with every student at Tailored Tutoring, I bring that same philosophy. When I educate, I have the opportunity to share what I love, but I also get the absolute pleasure to learn my students, too. Their passions, their concerns, their dreams. And that is why Tailored Tutoring is here. That is why we teach.