Helping a Student Boost Academic Confidence | Nurturing Wisdom Tutoring

Helping a Student Boost His Confidence

frustrated boy doing homeworkA former Nurturing Wisdom, Mercedes Lucero, has helped many students achieve their goals. Below, Mercedes shares one of her experiences working with a 5th grade math and executive functioning student.

Tim* and I started working together during the summer before his 5th grade year to help prepare him for the new private school he was going to be attending in the fall. Not only was Tim going to a new school, but he was also moving and had a lot of anxiety about all of the changes in his life. Due to all of this, the first several sessions with Tim were very challenging. It was very difficult to get him to do any type of math problem if he felt it was too challenging. During our sessions he would cry and have outbursts, which prevented us from getting much accomplished.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that I needed some advice. I wanted to figure out how to help Tim become more comfortable with his math skills, and thus give him the courage to try new problems that may intimidate him. I spoke with my coach, so that we could come up with the best plan to help Tim. We decide that I would go into each session, and Tim and I would set a goal for our session, and we would work towards just that one thing. Because we were coming up with this goal together, and we were only working towards one goal, Tim started doing better and better each session because each goal seemed achievable for him.

After working with him for several sessions, I realized math wasn’t really the issue. Instead, Tim’s main obstacle was that he lacked confidence. For example, if I showed Tim a math word problem, he would see a lot of words and instantly think there was no way he could solve it. However, if I broke down the word problem into smaller pieces he could do all of the pieces. Once I showed Tim these strategies, his confidence began to buildup, and he was more likely to try a problem, even if he found it intimidating.

When the school year started this fall, Tim was still a little nervous about fitting in, but he did have more confidence in himself. He instantly made a lot of friends and was doing well academically. As we continued to work together, we did have a few setbacks, however. Although Tim was doing well in his classes and he understood the material, he wasn’t turning in his work. Because of this, we shifted our focus to working on executive functioning skills. We practiced the best way for him to use his agenda, and we created a folder system so that he had a specific folder just for homework he needed to turn in each morning. We continue to work on these skills, and Tim continues to gain confidence with them.  I’m excited to see how this year turns out for Tim!

*This name has been changed to protect the privacy of our students.