Writer: Janice Tibbets

OTTAWA: More than one million Canadian School Children, including top students, have gone to tutors, says a news study that reports almost one in three parents have hired private academic help for their kids.

The Canadian Council on Learning attributes the growing trend to an era of “intensive parenting” in which mothers and fathers, particularly the more affluent, want their sons and daughters to have a competitive edge and attend University or College.

The large-scale survey of 5,361 adults found that people are increasingly hiring private tutors because schools are falling short of escalating expectations and parents are too time-restrained to cope with the stress of homework.

“Tutoring is no longer primarily geared towards low-achieving students requiring remedial instruction, but rather caters to a growing number of average and high-achieving students seeking to improve their learning and academic performance,” said the 2007 Survey of Canadian Attitudes Toward Learning, released Monday.


Source: CanWest News Service

There are about five million school children in Canada attending Kindergarten to Grade 12 and 33 percent of parents reported sending their kids to tutors, particularly for help with math. Almost three quarters of parents who have hired help have children who have A and B averages, said the survey.

For some middle class families, private tutoring is a lower cost alternative to sending their kids to private school, said Paul Cappon, president of the Learning Council, an independent corporation funded by the federal government.

Cappon described the movement toward tutoring as “enormous.”

There are several multi national companies operating in Canada such as Kumon Math and reading centres, which has 338 centres scattered across the country teaching more than 44,000 students, up from 26,500 a decade ago.

There are hundreds of smaller, independents and unknown numbers of one-person operations, run by university students, who post their services on school bulletin boards nationwide. On the Canadian website findatutor.ca, there are 560 choices, with rates ranging anywhere from $10 to $60 an hour.

“It’s just booming,” said Ray Bryden, operator of A+ Education Services in Calgary, where he caters mainly to “average to good students,” the overwhelming majority of whom are seeking help in math and willing to pay $30-$40 an hour for his services.

“When I first started in this business, people would say “why would anyone pay to get extra help for my kid when I can get it for free at school?” ” added Kathleen Casprowitz, the Vancouver based owner of 11 Sylvan Learning Centres in Canada. “But having a good education is more important than it was 20 years ago.”

Toronto parent Cordelia Strube – a self described “math dullard” – began sending her 11 year old daughter Carsen Healey, to the local Kumon centre for extra curricular arithmetic when she was five years old.

“I have always been fearful of math myself… and if I had a bad teacher, I was in big trouble,” said Strube. “What I wanted for Carson was for her to be teacher proof, to be strong enough in her math skills to be able to weather not-great instruction.”

Carson, who is now in Grade 6, is a straight A -student and her mother says she is two years ahead of her peers in math, recently winning an award for algebra.

Malcolm MacNiel, of Thornhill, Ont., began sending his daughter Dianne, to the Sylvan Learning Centre in his area this September for one-on-one help for a reading disability. In less than three months the 11-year old Grade 6 student has advanced from a Grade 2 to Grade 4 level, said MacNeil, who bemoans the fact that Dianne”s school was unable to provide the intensive instruction she needed.

The latest survey, which reported that Canadians are generally satisfied with schools, also found that a full percent said the system falls short in preparing students for the workplace.

Parents who seek private tutors were more likely than other parents to report they aren”t satisfied with the quality of education at their child”s school and that teachers are failing to teach children to love learning.

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