Help me help you

January 26, 2017

     I feel a little like Jerry Maguire. There isn’t a Cush or a Rod Tidwell with me and it’s not the middle of the night, but when one sits down to write a mission statement, how can you not feel like Jerry?

What if I started a revolution? What if we took the tutoring model as we know it, and turned it upside down? A new way of thinking about education outside the classroom. These were my thoughts when I left my classroom teaching job and created Core Complements.

It’s really simple. The approach to education outside the classroom for most parents has been to seek help for their kids AFTER the signs of struggle have gotten so bad that they are left scrambling to triage a situation that has begun to spiral out of control. What if we approached education like we do sports training, or musical instruments, dance, or other extracurricular activities?

Hear me out. Most parents turn to tutoring for support when their child is already falling behind or struggling. Parents of children who are working at grade level often think there is no need for educational support outside of the classroom, specifically the k-2 parents. Imagine what these children would be like with steady, on-going support that complements their existing curriculum, right from the very beginning, year after year. I’m not talking about pushing them ahead to do the next grade’s work or even remedial help. I’m referring to working on the application and synthesis of concepts they are independent and comfortable with in order to gain true mastery.

Let’s take an example from sports. My son plays soccer. He likes it, feels fairly confident on the field. Isn’t necessarily the next Messi and doesn’t think he wants to play in college, but he’s ‘good’ at it and made a travel team. If there was the equivalent to this in a classroom, it would be a student with all 3/4’s on his progress report and all positive thoughts to report at conferences.

But we felt he might want to feel more confident out there. So, we looked for support. Even though he has weekly practices, we went out and got him a private one-on-one coach for weekend foot skills training and once a week personal training to build strength. Why? Not because we want him to go off and get a scholarship to play somewhere or to score the most goals (though that would be ok, right?).

We did it to build his confidence, make him stronger, and enhance his game. Instead of kicking with his right foot only, now he is stronger with both feet. He learned proper running form and how to pace himself. He has more speed and agility. The outcome? A different kid on the field, and off. He’s more confident, interested more in the game itself, and not going through the motions. Wouldn’t that be a great way to describe your child IN SCHOOL?

Now, instead of soccer, substitute math, or reading, or writing, and instead of the playing field, it’s a classroom. ANY AGE.  I say any age because most parents wouldn’t think of getting their k-2 student support; again because they associate it with struggling.

Think of what your child’s 3rd-5th educational experience could be if you embraced complementary support in those early years. Fluent reading, a more developed writer’s voice and craft, or a more developed flexibility with numbers. Confidence that pushes your child to be a leader in, and out of the classroom.

Here’s a current example (true story). I have a 5th grade student who comes to me for support. He came with a strong foundation, working just above grade level, and happy at school. He didn’t come to me because he was “struggling”; it was more for confidence and to motivate and engage him to push himself. I just recently took the opportunity after holiday break to ask him to do a self-evaluation now that we were almost at the halfway mark of the school year. In his own words, he articulated exactly what I’m trying to explain. “I feel like a different person in school. In math, I feel so good when a new thing is taught and you and I have already worked on it weeks before and I’m the one who knows what to do. I actually get to help my friends in class and teach them sometimes. I have two parts that come together for me: what happens in school and then I have you and when I put those two parts together, I feel like I’m doing so well. In reading and writing, I feel like last year I didn’t finish books or remember what I read and now I think about it more and use it in my writing.” Feedback from his teachers has been that he’s a more engaged student and an active participant in class.

So, that’s what started my journey to creating Core Complements. I’ve listened to so many parents at conferences ask if there is anything else they could do for their child outside the classroom to help them reach their fullest potential.  So many times I came home thinking ‘What if parents simply embraced support outside the classroom like they do everything else they invest their time and money in for their kids? What would the long-term results look like in the classroom, and more importantly, outside the classroom?’ I’m well aware that this is a philosophy that you have to buy into, both figuratively and literally. Think of the long-term results though. It could be life-changing for your child, both short and long term.

Core Complements can do that for you. Embrace it.


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