22 Feb

Sick Student Consistently Cancels

One of my students has a parent who keeps cancelling due to the student being ill. I know that this is true but I also know that this will be detrimental to her maths. What can I do about it?

First you should probably qualify how sick the student is exactly. Do they still go to school? Do they go out to the movies or to their friend’s house for playtime? Try to qualify whether or not the student is consistently that sick that they really cannot have a tutoring lesson. The purpose being to understand if the problem is really that the student is too sick to learn or if their attitude toward tuition is somewhat passive. Obviously, make sure to be respectful and not unintentionally imply that you think the student isn’t really that sick.

If the student is engaging in other activities then you probably need to have a conversation with the parents about the damage that inconsistency does to progress. Often parents don’t realise the negative effect of skipping tutorials. Their child is sick, feeling and unwell and the parents may want to appease their child and just make them feel better – they feel sorry for them in a very loving way. The idea of forcing a child to sit through a maths lesson when they are unwell is probably not one most parents would be keen about. However, depending on the student’s specific challenges that may be different if they knew the academic damage being caused?

If the student truly is too sick to attend a tutorial then you still must do whatever is possible to encourage a serious and proactive attitude. Some ideas:

  • Suggest an extra catch up tutorial
  • If an extra tutorial is not possible then suggest  the next tutorial be 1.5hrs instead of 1 hour
  • Send the student some worksheets to do for homework or over the phone set them other homework from their book that you would have set had the tutorial taken place.
    • If the student is up to date and you cannot set them new work without explaining it first then set some revision homework that is currently relevant or a weak content area.
    • This will help instil the attitude that improving maths grades is serious business and even when they are sick they will be set some work to do.
  • Suggest the student sees their school teacher for a bit of help at recess or lunch if they ever miss a tutorial.
  • Discuss this issue with the parent to make sure they understand why consistency is important. Ask if they have any extra suggestions to deal with the situation.
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