Overview: Tutoring, Afterschooling,
Online Learning, Enrichment, Mobile Learning, Etc.
some school subjects, our son is just real average. But in science, he really
excels. He has always been fascinated by nature and doing things with his
hands. But there's rarely any time in school for hands-on experimentation.
Maybe twice a year they do something simple and hands-on, like make a circuit
with batteries, or watch mealworms in little tubes. It isn't enough! We would
hate to pull him out and homeschool him, or pay exorbitant private-school
tuition. What can we do?
Do what countless
millions of other parents are doing - engage your son in out-of-school learning
experiences that complement and supplement his regular curriculum. That means
make time outside of school to increase his learning, either yourself or with
the help of a paid tutor, mentor or corporation set up for that purpose.
Complementary learning makes the regular curriculum complete.
Supplementary learning adds to it.
Smart parents are doing
both, in the summertime, during school breaks, on weekends, and in the
after-school hours. To complement the
existing school curriculum and expand their child's learning, they are
arranging enrichment activities within and outside of school. When the existing
curriculum and instruction isn't filling the bill, parents supplement their child's education by paying for remedial tutoring,
test prep and special classes to cover areas such as foreign language and
instrumental music which aren't adequately offered within the school setting.
In your case, it might
be a great idea to call your local high school guidance office, ask for a nice
junior or senior looking for a little extra income and something interesting on
his or her resume, and turn that teenager into a science mentor for your son.
They could meet once a week at your house and you could provide materials for
experiments or activities that they could do together, in anything from botany
to astronomy to biology.
It does take a more
active role for the parent than most forms of education. Homeschoolers are the
ULTIMATE in complementary and supplementary learning providers, for example.
But parents of kids enrolled in traditional public and private schools can do
Of course, you don't
want to overdo it and overschedule your child with too much of a good thing. A
good rule of thumb is to have your child involved in three things outside of
school at any given time - one sport or fitness activity, vocal or instrumental
music, and one other thing - for many families, that'll be religious classes or
some sort of volunteer service.
But it could also be
something that's enriching and adds to your child's educational experiences.
For example, one middle-schooler read The
Wall Street Journal to his elderly neighbor once a week for an hour. The
neighbor, a retired stockbroker, was nearly blind. But the conversations the
young teenager and the old man had about the news columns and financial
developments chronicled in that newspaper resulted in an extraordinary business
education that the young man probably couldn't have gotten sitting in a
Do you want that kind of
enriching experience for your child? Here's how to get started:
n Obtain the "scope and
sequence" of the curriculum already scheduled for your child for the coming
school year. Keep a copy on hand. It's nice to get the following year's
curriculum plan, too, so that you don't give your child a double dose of the
n Obtain the recommended
reading list, or list of selected books, for every grade level of your school.
That way you'll know what books your child's teachers are likely to assign, so
that in guiding your child's library checkouts and book selections in
bookstores, you can avoid duplication.
In your area, there's likely to be a publication or website
dedicated to children and schooling, and its feature pages and ads are a good
source of enrichment idea, references for tutors, music teachers, foreign
language classes and so forth.
Get together with other parents and start co-curricular clubs
centering on enrichment activities that complement and supplement the regular
school subjects. Examples: math club, chess club, comedy club, drama club,
nature explorers, music appreciation, Great Books, etc. As a group, the parents
can pay a teacher to sponsor and lead this club in the off-school hours, or
volunteer your own time to lead it in the style of a Brownie or Scout leader. You
should be able to use school space for free for this purpose, or have it in
your home or club members' homes.
Be aware in your neighborhood and community of opportunities for
your child to learn while serving others. There often are triple and quadruple
benefits for this: a youngster who visits the elderly in a nursing home once a
week during the summer, and draws their portraits and captures a little oral
history about their earliest memories, can transform the material into art contest
entries and school writing assignments - plus the young person can gain a
newfound respect and love for the elderly, and brighten their days besides!
Homework: Here's a report from the Harvard
Family Research Project on why complementary learning is so important: