How to help kids succeed this school year

GTU Featured Guest
As people do their back to school shopping, one thing at the top of everybody’s mind is “How will we make this school year a success?”. Victor Camacho joined Good Things Utah to talk about things parents and children can do to prepare for the school year. He is the owner and founder of High Performance Tutoring, a Utah-based tutoring a test prep company open since 2011. 
He answered the following questions:
What advice do you have for all the students who struggled in school last year?
  • Victor says each person is a unique individual. What may be causing you to struggle in school is not necessarily the same as the issues your siblings, friends, or classmates might have. He says to ask what seems to be the greatest challenge for you, and what do you think is causing that? The common reasons students struggle in school is lack of motivation, lack of confidence, poor organization or study skills, test anxiety, an insanely busy schedule, an inexperienced teacher, or one of several common learning disabilities such as ADHD. He says knowing your specific reason for struggling will allow you to create a plan and establish good habits to overcome your academic challenges which will lead to better grades and more effective learning.
What do you recommend for parents who struggle to get their kids motivated?
  • First, find a way to gamify the learning process by setting up a point or reward system. Establish meaningful prizes they can earn along the way. Kids have trouble thinking long term, so set up short-term goals for them to reach as they work towards longer term goals.
  • Be open minded about how your child chooses to study. They should avoid distractions such as texting their friends while completing school work. However, give them freedom to experiment with “background noise” such as listening to their favorite music,chewing gum, playing with a fidget spinner, working at a coffee shop, or studying with their friends.  These little things may increase motivation and improve focus.

What about the kids with poor study skills. What can they do to improve in this area?

  • Be an active studier, not a passive one. If you have a chapter to read, don’t just passively read it. Make sure you are actively taking notes, underlining or highlighting important information, making appropriate flashcards, and drawing useful diagrams.
  • If you are studying for a math test, don’t just passively read the textbook and look over your notes. Work through actual problems you will be tested on and show your work.
  • If your teacher is lecturing in class, don’t just passively listen. Actively, write down the important information and ask questions when anything is unclear to you.
  • Find one or more good study partners. They can hold you accountable give you a different perspective on the material.
  • Use the “Rule of 3” when studying. Basically, this means you are not ready for the test until you can complete an essential task correctly three times in a row. For example, you are not ready for a spelling test until you can correctly complete a practice test three
  • times in a row.
Students take a LOT of tests in school these days. What can they do to maximize their performance, especially for students who get nervous while taking tests?
  • The better prepared you are for a test, the less nervous you will tend to be. Do most of your studying the week leading up to the test. The night before you should do something relaxing and get to bed early.
  • Work on the questions in order of difficulty, not the order in which they are presented. If a problem seems too difficult, skip it and for now. Even if you run out of time, it is a better strategy to answer all the easy questions before attempting the more challenging ones.
  • If you are nervous during tests, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths, focusing only on your breathing, until you feel more relaxed. It only takes a minute. Do it multiple times if you need to. Spending 55 minutes on a test in a state of relaxation will lead to better results than spending 60 minutes on a test in a state of panic.

What advice can you offer parents who might be looking for a tutor for this upcoming school year?

Tutoring is one of those things where you get what you pay for. There are some amazing tutors out there who can really turn things around for struggling students. There are also a lot of inexperienced tutors who can lead to greater frustration for students. A classic example is a tutor who spends half the time looking through the textbook.

There are 4 critical characteristics any successful tutor must possess:

  • Exceptional knowledge of the subject
  • The ability to explain things clearly
  • A great personality,
  • They must be reliable. 

A tutor lacks in any one of these characteristics will struggle to deliver a high-quality learning experience to their students. A common misconception is that a person must have a teaching license or graduate degree to be a good tutor. Those factors turn out to be poor predictors.

Victor says that At High Performance Tutoring, he personally interview 20 to 30 candidates per month and ends up hiring only around 10% – 15% of them. 

Many websites and in-school tutoring resources allow just about anybody interested in tutoring to sign up or create a profile with little to no checks for quality. It is then up to parents and students to sort through the hundreds of options and decide which one will work out best. At High Performance Tutoring, ALL tutors are outstanding. They can guarantee a high-quality learning experience because they have done sifted through those hundreds of options and carefully checked for quality and safety.
Additionally, their tutors travel to you, they are available seven days a week from early in the morning until late at night. We have an exceptional support staff who helps you schedule sessions, and we work on a pay-as-you-go basis with no long-term contracts.
Anybody may try them risk-free! Once you register, you have access to an  entire network of tutors, not just the one you met with initially. 
Learn more online at or by phone at  (801) 508-4080.

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