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Academic Coaching vs. Tutoring – what’s the difference?

At WholeStudent.com, we get a lot of calls from parents that like the sound of ‘Academic Coaching”, but they aren’t quite sure how it’s different than “Tutoring”. The short answer – Academic Coaching helps students achieve a permanent improvement in grades through an addtional and methodical focus on improving work habits and motivation.

To learn more, read on. This month’s blog outlines the 3 primary differences between these two different types of services to help you choose what’s right for your son or daughter.

1. Focus on the “Whole Student”
The first difference between Academic Coaching and Tutoring is that Academic Coaching focuses on helping all aspects of the student’s academic performance. Tutoring is focused primarily on developing a student’s subject skills.

Depending on the tutoring service, students improve their subject skills in Math, English or Science through low ratio or one on one instruction with a tutor. Tutoring sessions include doing exercise sheets, asking questions and complementing what they have learned in school. If tutoring is successful, you should see an improvement in your student’s grades in the next few upcoming tests or assignments.

So what can Academic Coaching add to that – isn’t better grades on the next test enough?

First of all, Academic Coaching includes tutoring, so it should help your student improve their grades in the short term, just a tutoring program would. The difference is Academic Coaching helps students in other areas, specifically work habits and motivation. Students develop the work habits such as consistent and quality homework completion, daily summarizing class notes and listing questions to ask the next day in class – or budgeting time to study for a test, long before the “night before”. And when it comes to motivation, dedicated Coaches are trained to help students set meaningful grade goals, honestly review test results, and learn from their mistakes.

As a result, they improve their Academic Capability as well as their Academic Performance which in turns leads to a lasting impact on their grades. In short, Academic Coaching helps equip students to achieve better grades, long after their Academic Coaching program is over.

2. Frequency of Sessions
The key to Academic Coaching is frequency of sessions. In a typical tutoring program, students work with their tutor once or twice each week – and often in a low ratio classroom. In an Academic Coaching program, students work with their Academic Coach up to every day after school, and it’s always in a one on one setting.

Through daily interaction, Coaches help their student develop an all important after school routine. Key work habits are practiced daily, until they become 2nd nature for students. And, because sessions happen frequently, Coaches become effective motivators for students. Because they are there through the entire test planning and test review cycle, they earn the credibility to help students set goals, evaluate performance and celebrate results – much more than a once/week tutor could.

Even though Tutoring programs often claim motivation and study skills improvement – don’t expect the same results as would be achieved through Academic Coaching.

3. Academic Performance Tools
An effective Academic Coaching program will provide your student with “tools” they can use in future grades and at the university or college level. For example, in an Academic Coaching program your student should be provided and taught how to effectively use an electronic calendar – to plan for and schedule upcoming tests and assignments. Other tools include a “Task Planner”, to help manage and prioritize their work – an “Advice Bank”, to capture lessons learned from graded tests and a “Question Parking Lot” to capture questions to be asked in class.

Academic Performance tools are essential to helping students maintain their best grades long after their Academic Program is over.

In short, Academic Coaching is different from Tutoring because it is designed to help students make a lasting improvement in grades. And it does that by addressing the underlying issues that hold student’s back – such as incomplete homework, leaving studying for a test the “night before” – or never reviewing a graded test to stop repeating the same mistakes over and over again.

To decide which type of service is best for your student, ask yourself this question – “Would their grades improve significantly if they were more motivated or had better work habits” If you answered yes to that question, we would recommend you seriously consider enrolling your student in a professional Academic Coaching program.

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WholeStudent.com is a Toronto-based company offering custom tutoring service for students throughout Canada. Feel free to contact us with your questions.

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