#113 – Talking About Tutoring: Who, When, and Why It Matters

Talking about tutoring is a new topic for our podcast, but we are finding that college parenting begins earlier and earlier, and parents are making many early decisions with future college potential in mind. In this episode, Vicki was pleased to be able to have a conversation with Celine Bewsher, Owner/Manager of Club Z! Tutoring in Cambridge, MA. Celine shared her insights about how tutoring can help students succeed, not just by helping with a specific subject at a specific time, but by helping students master the skills that they’ll need in the future. Celine helped us understand why starting to work with a tutor early can pay off as students approach test prep and the greater demands of college classes. Whether or not your student could benefit from tutoring, this conversation with help you understand better how your student learns and how you can support them all the way through school.

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This episode was about tutoring, but we covered so much more. Vicki had a chance to chat with Celine Bewsher, Owner/Manager of Club Z Tutoring in Cambridge, MA. Celine comes to the tutoring world from her background in the educational field in many places around the world including teaching in Paris and Istanbul,  working with students studying abroad, and leading a team at EF Education First.

Celine shared how rewarding it can be to build a relationship with students who start with their tutors early. Tutors are able to see a student’s development over time.  As Celine talked about how tutors work with students, it became clear that their work goes well beyond the subject matter. She talked about their holistic approach that covers what’s going on in the student’s life and involves so much more than a letter grade. So much of the tutoring work concerns confidence building and self-understanding.

One of the things that jumped out is how much of academic success depends on so many things beyond just skills, including student understanding and attitude.  As Celine explained how tutors try to make what students are learning relevant to the student’s world, (athletics, music, art, etc.) it became clear that parents can use the same approach as they relate to their students. So much of what Celine described as she explained how her tutors work are strategies that parents can also use to help their students learn.

We learned about the difference in test prep (SAT, ACT) for a new student and for a student who has been working with a tutor for some time. New students may have a longer onboarding and a more difficult time transitioning into the tutoring setting because they are nervous, and because it takes time for a tutor to assess what the student needs. Students who have already been working with a tutor have a head start which can be a bonus.

Attitude matters. Early involvement can make a difference. Making time for regular casual conversations about school work and school life can make a difference. By the time students become teenagers, the contact and connection is part of the relationship and the conversations can be easier.

We also spent some time discussing the advantages of a gap year for the right person. Knowing the path and story of the student makes a difference as each student’s path can be so individual. (Check out Episode #87 – Exploring the Why and How of the Gap Year for more information about the gap year.)

If you’d like to learn more about Club Z in Cambridge check out their website.

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Let us know what you’d like to hear about on future podcasts! Leave a comment below or email us at podcast@collegeparentcentral.com.

Related articles:

Tutoring Can Help Your College Student Succeed: Twelve Reasons to Start Early

Why College Peer Tutoring Works

Should My Student Consider Taking a Gap Year Before Starting College?

Should My Student Consider Deferring Enrollment for College?

Transcript of this episode:

Announcer: 

Welcome to the College Parent Central podcast. Whether your child is just beginning the college admission process or is already in college, this podcast is for you. You’ll find food for thought and information about college and about navigating that delicate balance of guidance, involvement and knowing when to get out of the way. Join your hosts as they share support and a celebration of the amazing experience of having a child in college.

Vicki Nelson: 

Welcome to the College Parent Central podcast. This is where we talk about all kinds of things that have to do with being the parent of a college student, of someone who is thinking about going to college and sometimes even people who have graduated from college. My name is Vicki Nelson and I am here today without a co-host, but I am not alone. I am very excited to have a guest to share with everybody today, and I think you’re going to be very interested in hearing about our topic, which has to do with tutoring and helping students work on academics and all sorts of things. So I am pleased today to be joined by Celine Bewsher, who is the owner-manager of Club Z Tutoring Services in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and that is a company whose guiding principle is coaching for success, and it is one of the premier one-on-one tutoring companies in Cambridge. R has a lifelong passion for motivating people with vastly different backgrounds and learning styles. She’s taught in Paris, France, guiding American high school students through the culture and history of Europe, and she has led a worldwide team at EF Education First, developing academic pathway programs for international students. Celine is also the mom of two daughters, one of whom is approaching the college search process, so Celine is about to enter this world of college parenting firsthand, so I’m so pleased to have Celine here today to extend what began as a casual conversation, I think while you were walking your dog, when I said how are things at work? And you patiently answered a whole bunch of my questions and I said this information is something people can use and we need to share it. So here we are, Celine welcome to the College Parent Central podcast.

Celine Bewsher: 

Thank you so much for having me, Vicki. I am so happy that you and I feel honored that you have me here on your podcast, so thank you.

Vicki Nelson: 

Well we’re excited to hear what you’re going to share and you know, talking about tutoring is a new topic for our podcast. We haven’t covered it before, but we’re really finding that college parenting, what we call college parenting, begins earlier and earlier, and parents are making so many early decisions with future college potential in mind. So I think some of the things we talked about when we talked before are really related to preparing for college and for college. So will you maybe start by sharing just a little bit about your background, beyond the little tidbits I added, and what brought you to this world of tutoring and coaching students?

Celine Bewsher: 

Sure. So again, thank you for the introduction. So just to add a bit more, I guess in my background is in terms of education, I’ve always been personally very close to cultural differences in education. I’ve done my education in different countries, starting from Istanbul to US, into France. So that in and of itself has brought me personally in realizing what the cultural differences come in to education at different parts, from elementary all the way to university. And, as you mentioned, I’ve worked with Education, First EF, and again sort of I’ve carried that passion of cultural differences through education, let it be in providing cultural experiences to American high school students when they’re visiting Europe, to pathway programs to study abroad programs. And that passion of mine, w When I decided to leave EF with the vision that I’d like to sort of take this next step and maybe then take it into our Club Z in Cambridge tutoring company and be able to translate it and be able to execute it in that form of tutoring with students. That’s the one thing that we did not do with EF when, I was working at Education First, and so that’s how we founded Club Z Cambridge. and, you know, I feel like the whole mantra we have, which is coaching for success. It goes from it has been with me since my early years with EF as a mom, into our company and it’s you know, maybe I’ll talk a bit more about that , because that sort of is the foundational stone to sort of what makes us different in this field, because Cambridge is full of tutoring companies. I don’t know if you want me to jump into that.

Vicki Nelson: 

It’s an academic mecca. Tell us a little bit about Club Z and what you do, and maybe the age range of students you work with or what kinds of help and support you give to students.

Celine Bewsher: 

Yeah, sure.

Celine Bewsher: 

So the age range we work with really starts from third grade all the way to 12th grade, and the reason why I say third grade is not that we don’t have parents calling us in second and first.

Celine Bewsher: 

But I’ll be very candid when they do call us for second and first grade, I have the conversation with them and I always sort of say you know what, you should just wait until they’re in third grade, and often they take my lead on it. So I have the conversation with them two years after. So that’s sort of how we work. That’s the age range, and a little bit of what we’ve built in Cambridge is this relationship with the parents in Cambridge and also Brookline. And really, once they come to us in third grade, they tend to stay with us all the way through their SATs and college, which is really rewarding for us, because then we get to see the growth of the student that we now met at 10 and I get to know their story and hear what college they went into, and the parents even call back afterwards to let us know how they’re doing in college.

Celine Bewsher: 

So, that’s the most rewarding part of sort of my role anyway in this.

Celine Bewsher: 

So in terms of subjects, we offer pretty much everything, but what really happens is what’s in demand, right? So I think the highest demand is really math. It starts in third grade.

Celine Bewsher: 

And then yeah it starts in fractions.

Vicki Nelson: 

I’d be there. I’d raise my hand. I’d be there.

Celine Bewsher: 

Fractions and whatever else, and then it goes on to AP Calc, whatever it takes on to its journey all the way through 12th grade. After math, I would say we do have a lot of English and English. Again, what we work with is more learning how to write. That’s what we really do in middle school. A lot of what we’re doing is teaching the kids the writing process so that they can confidently write a five paragraph essay. So that’s what we’re really focusing on with English more than anything else. And then, of course, in high school, there’s Shakespeare, there’s all of that stuff. That sort of happens. So we work with their curriculum. Mathematical sciences is another one that is really big for us in high school, so physics and chemistry, and then we’ve got, of course, test prep SATs not as much as ACTs. A lot of SATs are now coming back post-COVID, so we have more and more SATs coming our way, and then we have, you know, French and Spanish and these little things that we love,

Vicki Nelson: 

Basically what whatever the students really need to work with. Yes, and you know it’s interesting, you mentioned, with the writing, you mentioned confidence, that they gain confidence and I think that goes such a long way in terms of students being able to do their work. And it seems as though, you know, I teach college, and on that college level, so many of the students that I encounter who are struggling, who seem to be having a difficult time, it’s not strictly because of their academic issues, but life that gets in the way. It’s the social issues, the anxiety, mental health, things really going up these days self-management, time management, all of those things. So, when thinking about your idea of coaching for success, in addition to the subject matter, do your students help, or rather, do your tutors help students with some of these other peripheral kinds of issues?

Celine Bewsher: 

Yeah, that is such a great question and I feel like that’s been more and more prevalent in our world ever since COVID and the COVID isolation, particularly with the teens that we deal with, and really in our approach to tutoring, a big part of it is what I call a holistic approach. So it’s really trying to understand first the family. Who is mom, dad, what are their priorities, what’s on their mind, why are they coming to us, what’s important to them and really their background. This is where I go back to this education and the cultural piece, to understanding the diversity of the cultural piece to it, understanding the diversity of the of the cultures that we’re dealing with, what’s important to them. And then from there we move on to the child. So what’s going on in that child, child’s life? So it’s not really under, it’s not really the letter that we’re after, but it’s really the letter. But yes, but more than that sort of what’s happening to this child and how can we help support this student in the best way possible, holistically, and a lot of that could be confidence-related.

Celine Bewsher: 

A lot of that could be giving them the confidence to understand they can do this, giving them the tools. Sometimes it’s not a question of they think they’re struggling. They think that you know, oh, I’m just, I just I’m not intelligent enough to do this math, and yet you actually break it down. You realize, hold on, it’s your approach to the math problem. Let’s talk about how you can approach this problem in a more effective way. Let’s break it down, let’s go step by step. You know what. You’re actually so much more intelligent than you think you are. You’re doing this in your head. I need you to write this down, step by step, and once you write it down, then you can avoid all these silly mistakes that you’re going to be making because you’re trying to jump quickly ahead to the answer.

Celine Bewsher: 

So I guess, to answer your question sort of more directly yes, we pay attention a lot to the approach to the study skills, to how we can affect or also make them understand that they can do this and be confident about it. And often, you know, when we’re talking to our tutors, a lot of this sort of is in the training but also on field, because I always have monthly reports on how things are going with our students, et cetera. You know we always try to connect to every single student. I always say individually try to understand who they are. So if it’s an athlete, they’re interested in a bunch of sports. Speak to them in that terminology. So let’s talk about practice, let’s talk about not giving up, let’s talk about stamina and relate the work to almost the work of an athlete so that they can just pump up the confidence.

Vicki Nelson: 

It’s their world

Celine Bewsher: 

Absolutely

Vicki Nelson: 

and they can identify with it.

Celine Bewsher: 

They can totally identify with it and you know if it’s a pianist. Let’s talk about how you actually, you know, get really great on playing that piece and what practice means and what breaking down a piece of a, of a you know music by Satie, that you’re going to be playing it into different parts and then putting it all together. So we really just try to make it as relevant to their world as possible and as personable as possible.

Vicki Nelson: 

Yeah, you know, it seems as though that’s really good advice for us as parents as well, to think about what is my student enmeshed in right now and how can I, on their terms, a little bit help them understand things that are going on. Wondering, when, when parents are, when you’re talking to parents who are looking for a tutor um, you know, not those first and second grade graders, but a little older, I’m curious what they’re looking for and whether, as you’re describing all of this peripheral work that you’re doing with with students, do you have to explain to parents that this is, this is what we do and how we’re doing it. Do parents understand what they’re really looking for when they’re looking for a tutor?

Celine Bewsher: 

That’s a really good question Again. So sort of it depends, of course, on the parents what they’re. You know, when I have my initial conversations and I always find it so interesting every time I speak to a parent and learn about a new family and sometimes they don’t know what they’re looking for. They’ve just called me because the school has said your child needs tutoring, so your child needs support and maybe you should get tutoring, and often that’s the starting conversation.

Celine Bewsher: 

And then sometimes they call me because they’ve heard about us from another parent and then they know more about us. So they call me and they say oh, I want so-and-so tutor of yours that I heard a friend of mine is working with, because they’re doing. one-to-one Word of mouth can be good and not so good. Yeah, and sometimes it’s actually the students who may have heard from their friends. So, depending on where the parent is in this conversation, I always even if they do know, I do always walk them through the process because I think it’s so important to have the parents on board to make them sort of understand how we approach it. And I do always say to them that you know, and again, I always explain we’re going to go because if I understand that it’s the grade which is important to them. Sometimes parents, straightforward, say to me it’s not, I’m not after the grade, I just want to make sure they pick up their confidence. They’re so much in tune. So then that’s a different conversation. But in either case, I always take the point to explain that, yeah, we’re going to work on the grade, because we’re obviously working on the content, but, more importantly, we’re going to work on the confidence. we’re going to work on the approach. We’re going to work on making your child successful now and into the future. Give them strategies so that they can actually apply these to life, because they’re sort of life skills in many ways. And then I drive them into the conversation in terms of you know what they can do as a parent to help support them at home, and it may happen in the initial conversation or it may come later, because I again, it’s an ongoing dialogue with the parents. I always connect with them on a monthly basis and give them updates on how things are going and you know, if I were to take an example of a parent who we realized through conversation that more than anything else, I feel like we should be working on study skills with your child. And we have a full study skills curriculum that we do. And in that case I will say, you know, some of the things that you could do to support your child with this is, you know, get involved early and ask questions and ask questions. Get involved in their life, get involved in what they’re doing. For example, some of the questions could be you ask about what’s going on in their science class. They’re going to tell you oh, I have this project that I’m doing. Then maybe ask oh, so what are the different parts of that project? So all of a sudden, you’re making them think the project has different parts. They may not have the answer for it, but if they’re, possibly if they’re working with our tutor, they may or they may not have gotten there yet, but you’re helping them think about it. And then they may say, well, I have to do lots of research, okay, so what parts of research are you going to do? Where are you going to get that research? Break it down, break it down, break it down, Break it down. Help them break it down, because all you’re doing as a parent is making them understand a project has different parts you have to break it down. Has different timelines, so if it’s due in a month, you’ve got to work on the different parts in different ways.

Vicki Nelson: 

I’m still trying to teach that to my college students. If you can get the younger kids to know that, we’re ahead of the game. But it also seems as though then, especially if they’re working with a tutor, they’re hearing some of the same messaging both at home and in their tutoring sessions. So it sort of ties the things together. Oh, somebody other than my mom said that. Maybe I should be paying attention to that after all, and it works that way. you talked about often parents reach out to you because school has said you know they they could use support, or or you notice yourself that there. Does it ever make sense for students to do some kind of support, tutoring, proactively, before they begin to struggle, to sort of bone up a little bit before they hit a difficult time?

Celine Bewsher: 

Yeah, that’s a really good question too, and it’s such a big part of our world and that struggle, I guess. I guess yes, it makes a lot of sense.

Celine Bewsher: 

But the difficulty with it is from a parent perspective. When do they know they’re going to struggle? How do they know? Do they know how much communication is happening? It sort of depends on, I guess, also the age of the child and also the parenting style, how involved they are in the parenting and there’s different styles of parenting and they’re all different. They’re all good in their own ways. So when the parent is involved and they do realize, I think it’s phenomenal when those parents and I always tell them when they call me in third grade, fourth grade, because they pick up on the quickest thing on fractions, and maybe they’re not able to conceptualize this and call us and I command them for it and I say this is great because we can jump on it right away.

Celine Bewsher: 

But you know, in the teen years it’s so much more difficult because sometimes conversations are more limited, depending on your involvement with the child. Again, so sort of you’re looking at grades or you’re looking at teacher conferences to understand and again, in those cases I think it’s great to jump right away when you do see the first flag of realizing and again it’s sort of understanding what does this mean? Does B mean something for this child or is it C? You know it’s knowing. Where is that child, what’s the norm, what the expectation is so it’s really really vague to.

Celine Bewsher: 

Well, it’s not vague, isn’t the word. It’s very individualized for each child. So I think, depending on your expectation of your child, whatever that might be, if they are coming lower than that, the minute you realize it, it’s great to jump right there and to give you an example, sometimes parents call me it’s a big struggle and it’s sort of maybe two weeks left to the end of the year, right.

Celine Bewsher: 

So we get this emergency SOS call and I’m very candid with them and I sort of at that time have this discussion saying, look, I’d love to help, but I’m going to be realistic, We’ve got like two weeks left. And then I sort of talk about what else is your child doing? And if I hear a list of sports and list of this after school activities, and I say realistically, like how’s this even going to fit in their schedule without turning them into a total stress ball?

Celine Bewsher: 

So it’s all a question of balancing. It’s such a balancing act.

Celine Bewsher: 

So I think the earlier the better. And it’s funny because in some ways I also would say we have, of course, this ongoing influx of students where, yes, they may come in because they’re struggling at a later moment. But the bigger part of what we do in Cambridge excuse me is really, I guess, these customers that we’ve had these relationships that we have where it’s stays, and what I mean with that is they come in as as in, you know, in third grade, and then what they need changes as they grow. So then we’re there, we’re on it, we’re working with them. You know, in third grade we’re doing math and fractions. By the time they’re in sixth grade, we’re doing study skills and we’re teaching them how to effectively study and apply it to all of their work. And then in eighth grade, maybe we’re doing more advanced math or we sort of know what the moving changes are so that it makes it easier.

Vicki Nelson: 

And you’ve developed a relationship with that student. And so you begin to know and you, I would imagine the tutor can anticipate where the things are. I talk a lot about to my students. Again it’s the college level, and we have a tutoring center. Every college has a tutoring center. And about you know, all right, you’re taking physics and you know this is going to be tough. Don’t wait until midterm exam to go find a tutor. But if you start at the beginning of the semester, by the time midterm exam comes around, your tutor knows you and knows your weaknesses and your strengths. So building that, so jumping a little bit, it seems as though one of the places again you know, dealing with older kids that parents often start to think about support and tutoring, if they haven’t had the luxury of developing years of a relationship, is when it comes time for SAT or ACT. You know test prep, we’ve got to get ready for that, and so I imagine you get those students. What’s the difference between the student that comes to you as a sophomore or a junior to prepare for SAT and that student that you’ve worked with over time in how you maybe approach it, how you work with them? Is that a good reason for parents to perhaps think about starting some kind of support earlier so that they will have that relationship by then?

Celine Bewsher: 

yeah, so that’s an interesting actually comparison to make. So if I sort of think about the students that we’ve worked with for many years and think about them coming on to SAT, we know them so well and I think the benefit of that is that we’re so much in tune, having coached them with strategies, that we probably A we’ve given them a lot of the strategies because we bring it in to our tutoring. So the transition from that into the actual standardized tests. It’s so much easier for that student to make, because they’re used to approaching a problem a certain way. We’ve worked on that for many, many years so that transition is easier From a content perspective. We know exactly when they are ready, despite the fact of me looking at transcripts and asking the parent okay, did they do algebra II? Did they do pre-Calc? I sort of know where they are in math, so I know the exact time where it would make sense for them to actually start the SAT prep. For students who are coming to us completely new on the SAT prep, sometimes they’re so nervous and they’re so worried and they will call me in 10th grade. And so I have this conversation, okay, and then I try to understand. My first point is I need to understand their math background, so I ask a bunch of questions so what math do they do? Have they done Algebra 2 already? Have they done Pre-Calc?

Celine Bewsher: 

and if they have not done algebra 2, I will right away basically recommend the parents and say you know, I feel like this is way too early, because I feel like they need to get algebra 2 concepts under their belt, just so that your test prep investment is not about us teaching them what they’re going to learn in the school. And in an ideal world, I want the students to have Algebra 2 plus maybe two months of pre-Calc under them, because by the time they do that two months of pre-Calc, they basically have pretty much all concepts that we need more or less for an SAT prep.

Celine Bewsher: 

So there’s that timing conversation with parents who are coming on to us new and then you know, we obviously will make them do a diagnostic and look at their strategies and how they approached and analyze that before we start working with them, which might be a step we might not have to do for the students that we’ve known for so long. So there’s basically that continuity and knowledge, which is a bonus and again, sort of they don’t miss out the coming new students. But we’ll have to spend a bit more. It’s almost. The onboarding is a bit longer.

Celine Bewsher: 

There’s some more steps are involved

Vicki Nelson: 

You’ve built that up over time with the students who’ve worked with you for a while.

Celine Bewsher: 

Exactly

Vicki Nelson: 

I mean it’s common sense. It makes sense, but it’s interesting to hear why and how that difference exists. So another question I had, and it’s probably an obvious one, you know, I would think tutoring works best when the student has the right attitude about it. If they’re resisting it, it’s probably tough.

Vicki Nelson: 

And I’m wondering from a parent perspective are there things that you would suggest that parents, at whatever age, can do to help the student understand why this is important and really support them in having that right attitude that’s going to help.

Celine Bewsher: 

It’s such a great question and it’s funny because I think about it as a parent all the time, apart from Club Z, and I think the one thing I would put out there for me almost personally as a parent that has helped the most has been involvement and involvement early, early on involvement.

Celine Bewsher: 

So you know, and I always say to the, to the parents that are in third grade that are calling me, involvement meaning not you don’t have to be a hands-on parent and in their, in their life all the time, but what I mean is making time for that conversation of asking how did things go in school? What are you learning? What are you guys doing in science? Or what are you doing in math? Tell me more about your English, what books are you reading? So that almost and if you’re a very busy parent, traveling, still making that almost whatever time works in your time, if it’s 15 minutes, if it’s a phone call from Seattle to Massachusetts, you know, whatever it might be, just making that work, that ritual work, where you have that check-in time, let’s call it with your child, because the minute you build it it’s not pushed away when they’re in their teen years because it’s part of your relationship, it’s just a norm, it’s not like why are you all of a sudden asking me these questions as a teen, would you?

Vicki Nelson: 

know Right.

Celine Bewsher: 

So then, within that, with those questions, you can always, as a parent, I hope guide them, depending on what the responses could be, sort of making them make the connections, and then that’s where sort of you know the connection to if it’s an athlete, if one is not wanting to do something and is basically telling you, well, yeah, I’ve got this final coming up, but I’ll just sort of I’m gonna wait and I’ll do it my friends the night, and then you know, that could be a nice little conversation. But, just listen. How do you like? How do you work with your soccer, though? Like how often do you practice for your soccer, making them think about whatever it is that they’re passionate about outside of academics. Or if they have a role model. I mean for a lot of the basketball players. Caitlin Clark, great role model, you know, in terms of what would she do if she had this game coming up. So sort of you know, whatever that might be, asking, bringing the role model and saying but what about you know this person that you really like? How would they approach this, do you think?

Celine Bewsher: 

giving them these points, or if they’re tutoring with us, use the role model of the particular tutor. I always say if you’re stuck because they really love so-and-so that they’re working with, just say how do you think she would do this if she had a final coming up? Because they usually look up to their tutor. It’s their role model, it’s their coach. They often want to be them.

Celine Bewsher: 

That’s the beauty in this tutoring relationship the role modeling is so important absolutely they want to be them yeah and that’s part of the reason why they also continue to tutoring because, the incentive is almost that relationship, because they want to be like them. They want to be and they continue that relationship over and over, year after year. I mean some of those parents say I can’t believe. They’re just telling me you know, okay, so am I working with so and so again this year and and in most cases they yeah yeah, our retention with our tutors is pretty high.

Celine Bewsher: 

I can’t can never promise it because they’re humans, but right where we can make that magic happen, then it’s beautiful for everybody it’s so rewarding for our tutors. It’s rewarding for us, it’s rewarding for the students and the families.

Vicki Nelson: 

Yeah, really important I want to go back to we only have time for a couple more, but you talked about monthly reports that you communicate with parents, and I’m curious those students who have been with you over time, who maybe started in third or fourth or fifth grade and now they’re high school, is there a change in how you communicate with parents as students get older?

Celine Bewsher: 

Absolutely.

Vicki Nelson: 

I guess that might be the answer. How does it change?

Celine Bewsher: 

And you know at the beginning, sort of when they first start, they hear from me every month, right. And then I realize after a while, as the kids are getting older, firstly the parents maybe do not want to hear on a monthly basis from me because they’ve been working with us for so long. There’s an established relationship and as they get older though, sort of when they’re in high school, for example, when they reach high school, a lot of the conversations happen in such a way where I will ask the tutor to go back directly to our tutor to give the feedback directly to the child, because in many ways I think they’re so open to it when it comes directly in that mentoring relationship. Then the parent hearing it and the parent going to the child, and almost like creating this triangle which doesn’t really work very effectively at that ages like in high school.

Celine Bewsher: 

I feel like we actually, you know, I speak a lot with our tutors and almost coach them on that particular point, to go back to the student and see how they worked, and then, you know, I will obviously let the mom know or the dad know, but it’s really becomes a much more of a direct feedback session. Let’s not call it feedback direct coaching session.

Vicki Nelson: 

And that prepares students for college. When it’s, it is definitely more appropriate for parents to step back but, I, see so many that can’t quite let go. And one of the changes I’ve seen over time is, you know, we used to have this image of helicopter parents.

Vicki Nelson: 

You know the parents are hovering and the students are trying to sort of push them away, but it’s reversed a little bit now. I think students welcome a lot of that parent involvement and so having that time in high school where they have someone like a tutor or a coach to help support them and they’re not leaning so totally on the parents is really, really helpful. So we could probably do a whole episode on this. So maybe, but just to touch on it because I’m I’m guessing that you probably work as you work with these older students and high school students from some students who might benefit from taking some time off before they go to college and we talked about SAT and ACT and all of that college prep and some students you know taking a break might be a good thing. So what do you think about the idea of a gap year and do your tutors talk to students about that? What would you suggest to parents and students who might be thinking would a year off be a good idea?

Celine Bewsher: 

That’s such a great question and I love the idea of gap year for the right person and, yes, we do often talk about it. I talk to parents about it too, depending on the person. So then again, this is so individualized and I feel like once we know the path and the story of that student for you know, since third grade we can have really good input and sometimes you know students are very academically driven and they do well and they love academia, and so when I see that it’s a full-on, just your path into college and continue and then probably grad school, et cetera.

Celine Bewsher: 

So you know that type of student. And then you’ve got students who are super bright, who might be 4.0, getting great grades, but really are looking. They’re much more hands-on, they’re much more you know, want to be involved in life and want to get their hands dirty and probably they’re going to go into a major which is going to correspond to that too. But that type of a student to me is a perfect student to then hone in on their interests and try to understand what really makes them tick. What is it that? Where do they want to go? Have these conversations and involve the parents and then make a few suggestions for gap year programs. So I feel like for that sort of a student, that’s a great, great year to take and my philosophy around it is always go through college process as you normally would. You know, get your applications, get your acceptance and defer that.

Celine Bewsher: 

So that you know you’ve done it and you know you’re going to take your gap here purposefully. And then you’ve got some students who might be really struggling and who might not know where to go, not know what to do, and maybe they don’t have the best grades, they don’t have the best GPAs. With these students, you know, again, I sort of try to bring in the parents and try to understand what their points of interest might be and try to expose them to different career programs so that they can go and find out what might be their different paths.

Celine Bewsher: 

And it might not be your traditional college, it might be your trade schools. Talk to them about all these possibilities and maybe get them some conversations going with people in that trade so that they can see, oh, this is how it would feel if I were to become going to carpentry and and then, based on that, maybe actually talking to the parent about doing some sort of an internship in some of these fields. That again, a purposeful gap year program. So it’s so individual and I love and promote the gap year idea, but it has to be for the right person.

Celine Bewsher: 

feel like the the nightmare possibility of a of a gap year is a student who basically just doesn’t do anything and sits on there you know, yeah, that’s a nightmare,

Vicki Nelson: 

Mom and dad’s basement playing video games I think that’s often the parent nightmare of what a gap year is going to be, or that my student is going to take a gap year that is going to get them off the track and then they’re never going to get back on the track. And it would seem to me that often a tutor or a coach who has worked with this student, perhaps over years, is one of the best people perhaps to be able to judge and estimate. This might be a student who would benefit from a break.

Celine Bewsher: 

So totally, totally correct. And I feel like you know, in our the, the tutors just know their students so well. In just very recent this year, you know one of our this happened in one of our relationships where the tutor knew this would be the right thing, and then you know where they’ve been speaking together. They found a great program in Spain and, she, she, this is a student who’s totally wants to go into languages and yeah, humanities speak Spanish fluently. And there she is. She’s on her way next year to do a whole full year in Spain and I’m delighted for her

Vicki Nelson: 

What a great story.

Celine Bewsher: 

It is, and you know it was all prompted by, again the tutor-student relationship and then, of course, plugging in the mom into the conversation when we knew this was happening.

Vicki Nelson: 

We could keep talking.

Vicki Nelson: 

It’s wonderful. I’m learning all kinds of new things about this the whole idea of the tutor relationship and the coaching and over time. You know, I think so many of us really think of tutoring in terms of right now my student is struggling in math, I need to get a math tutor. The tutor will get that student back on track and then we’ll be done with that process and to think of it as an ongoing kind of over time. So just to wrap up, would you have any advice for parents or you know especially I mean we’re thinking mostly in terms of high school parents and all of that if they’re thinking about tutoring and kind of what to look for and how to go about finding? I know you mentioned I’m asking the question and I’m answering my own question, but, uh, you know you mentioned word of mouth and talking to other parents, but how do they go about finding a good tutoring program for their kid?

Celine Bewsher: 

yeah, um, I would definitely sort of encourage them to speak to different call the different tutoring companies and options which are out there and find out about their approaches and ask the questions about what is their approach, because, again, it’s not just about the grade I feel like tutoring is so much more than that and as they have those conversations they will find out what the philosophy of the tutoring company is.

Celine Bewsher: 

I think most importantly for parents, it’s really understanding that philosophy so that you can have the continuity, Because I feel like in high school, wanting to help out your child is such a prevalent thing. Every parent, every mom wants to do that, wants to do the best for their child, especially when all those changes are happening and the teen attitude is kicking in, and it’s a difficult time and within that, if we only focus on the grade, that’s coming home and make that an identity for that child.

Celine Bewsher: 

That grade becomes an identity, they’re going to push away a lot of the help that we’re trying to give to them. So I feel like the tutoring company that’s going to help is coming in with this philosophy where they’re not going to make the grade the identity.

Celine Bewsher: 

You’re a b student or you c student you’re failing, you’re doing it it’s really the whole philosophy and the approach of how am I gonna, how are you gonna help my child? So this is, this is the story, this is where she’s at and this is what we would like. How are you gonna get there? And I think that open-ended question and what the tutoring company is gonna say is is going to give them the understanding of is this the right one for me or not? And after that, I would think it would be really important. If it’s a new, they don’t know enough about the tutoring company, I would definitely encourage them to speak to a parent who’s worked with them, because then they’re going to get a real sort of check on oh yeah, this is really how it worked.

Vicki Nelson: 

And I would guess any good tutoring company would be happy to provide some names of a parent that the parent looking at would be able to talk to.

Celine Bewsher: 

They absolutely should. I mean, in most cases they would need to get some sort of a consent signed, and hopefully they have some of those on file already. Yeah, great.

Vicki Nelson: 

Well, and if any parent is looking, if they’ve listened to this podcast, they now have a lot of questions that they know to ask a tutoring company that they’re looking at. So, Celine Bewsher, thank you so much for joining us today and talking about so much that you know. And Club Z Tutoring in Cambridge is your company and perhaps you’ll get some phone calls who knows? And you do. I should have asked this earlier. The tutoring is all online. It’s all online, so it doesn’t have to be local to Cambridge. No, Okay so that’s really important for people who might be listening. So thanks so much for taking time to join us today and thank you to anyone who has been listening to this. We hope it’s helpful, and you can find the show notes at collegeparentcentral. com/ podcast. And we’ll see you next time

Celine Bewsher:

Thanks, thank you for having me, Vicki.


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