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Smart Woman: Education on the Side

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Each year, parents in the U.S. spend between $1 and $2 billion a year on tutoring. While one-on-one help may be what a child needs, there are different places to find it.

Bonnie Schwartz helps her daughter, Whitney, with her homework every night. "I naturally figured my kid was doing fine," she said. But Schwartz was shocked when her daughter slipped behind two grades in reading and math. Whitney says she stumbles sometimes, and she's not sure what she's reading. "My God! This is my child? That far behind? It can't be!," exclaimed Schwartz.

Afraid her daughter was losing ground in the race for better grades, Schwartz enrolled her at a tutoring center. At the center, her daughter is learning new study techniques. For-profit centers with a price tag of $30 to $50 an hour have turned tutoring into a billion-dollar industry. "They need one-on-one attention, and we have the luxury of being able to provide just that," said Sharon Bergin, Huntington Learning Center.

But for parents who can't afford a private center, there are other options. The place to look? Your child's school. Linda Ertel, a teacher, says many have volunteer tutoring programs already in place. "Many children today don't get as much attention as maybe they would like and need," she said. "And they really respond." Another tutor to consider? Your child's own teacher. "There are teachers who actually tutor as a part-time job," said Ertel.

No matter what you choose, keep track of your child's progress. Make sure your tutor is worth the time and the money. Before you turn to a tutor, parents should make sure their child is taking the time to study. One rule of thumb, ten minutes for each grade level, even if there's no homework due the next day. A senior should be studying at least two hours every night. Likewise, a first grader should be studying just ten minutes.






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