looking for tutor for very stubborn kid

Hello Parents,

We need a math and writing tutor for our very bright but very stubborn fourth grader. They are currently attending their small private school via zoom. They have no interest in school and turn in the bare minimum of what is required. This was evident pre pandemic but it's gotten worse. Whenever my partner and I try to intervene we are met with tons of attitude, yelling, and argumentative behavior. We've tried incentives like rewards for completed assignments. We've tried discipline ie taking away screen time, canceling zoom dates with friends. Nothing works. We feel that our child might respond better to someone outside the family. 

Parent Replies

Parents, want to reply to this question? Sign in to post.

We have had a great experience using Classroom Matters for tutoring. My son loves his tutor and they help him with whatever subject he needs help with and with organization and study skills.   Classroom Matters

Your child may have a learning disability that has not been identified. This happened with our son when he was quite young. No matter what we did, he remained unchanged. It was not until we had him assessed that we realized that he had reached capacity and COULDN't do more no matter whether we took things away or rewarded him. Think of it as a child who needs glasses, but you don't realize it and you demand that they read, but they can't see or tire very quickly because their site is not 100%. It doesn't mean you don't have a smart child or one that you worry won't be successful in life. It might just mean that something else is going on and you need to discover what it is in order to help him. Just a thought...

Hi! I would recommend a company called Classroom Matters! They tutor all subjects k-12 with a more holistic and emotion-based approach and I know they offer online and POD learning. I have heard excellent things about their tutors and they even have an Enrichment program for math and foreign language. My daughter hasn't started school yet but I am definitely looking to them for when she does!

Our bright and stubborn 5th grader is working with Ali Mansour at Firecracker Math.  I learned that me trying to teach my child math is really just a losing battle (and adversely impacts our relationship too).  Last spring, my kiddo was about 1 year behind in math. They had a weekly session with Ali during the summer, and now they are at or even slightly above grade level.  Ali is very kind, patient and super supportive.  He has been amazing!  

We loved our tutor, Linda. She was extremely patient with my daughter who did not like math. We went to her North Berkeley house before COVID then went to virtual.

510 900-2430

This sounds really challenging, and it sounds like you've tried several approaches already without the result you were looking for, and need some new ideas. I think you are on the right path with a tutor to get the parent-child dynamic out of play. You might consider an educational therapist as a level up from a tutor (but usually a bit more expensive), as such a person should be able to address feelings around learning as well as just the learning (I know there are some at Strategies for Learning). Additionally, could your teacher be more of a resource than currently, for supporting your student? I also wonder, if this was happening before the pandemic, is it possible there is a learning challenge of some kind that is making your child shy away from school? It is rare that children truly have "no interest" but when things feel "too hard" anybody will shy away from it - certainly, if you tried to teach me calculus in French, I wouldn't participate in it either. The other day I overheard my perfectionistic kindergartener tell his teacher blatantly that when he answers her question he's just going to "joke around" - not as a disrespectful thing, but I think he was trying to distract from his anxiety that he didn't know the answer. He wanted an out to be able to say "tricked you, I actually knew the right answer." 

It doesn't sound like a tutor would change them having no interest in school and only wanting to do the bare minimum - you don't say it's that they are not meeting grade level standards, which is when you would need a tutor. I would request a meeting with their teacher to lay out the problems you're seeing at home, and get their participation in a solution plan. You might need the teacher's assistance in your positive motivation program.

Our daughter from age 11 has been working with an excellent Learning Specialist for the past 3 years, Mike L. Miller. She had struggled with math and dealt with slower processing, information retention and anxiety. Initially we were looking for someone to support her outside of school with math concepts and completion of assignments each week. Mike came to us highly recommended by the Education Therapist at my daughter's middle school, who literally referred to him as a "math whisperer". At the time, our daughter had an easy time relating to her peers but interacting with adults was more challenging. Mike was able to establish a great working relationship with her right away with his kind and genuine manner. He is highly intuitive and able to relate well to kids and teens by getting on their level and not talking down to them. My daughter is now a freshman in high school in Oakland and Mike has not only helped her with math but also a variety of other subjects, most recently with English and writing (one of his self-proclaimed passions). We give Mike our highest recommendation. He's not only helped our daughter with her academics but more importantly with gaining confidence in herself and learning. Mike has become an invaluable support system for our family. mikecanhelp.net

Hi There,

I have had great experience working with Bay Area Tutoring Collective (https://bayareatutoring.weebly.com/) . They are a group of mostly women Uc Berkeley students who are committed to respectful, intelligent tutoring. My son ahs worked with one of their tutors years ago and I have referred friends and clients who worked with other tutors and have been very pleased. 


I have a 6th grader with a Developmental Learning Specialist, Mike L. Miller  who came strongly recommended from my son’s new school.  He is a lifesaver.  My son—who has anxiety, dyslexia, auditory processing disorder, math issues and is weary of school (because he was treated as stupid from a former teacher) is doing extremely well now.  He really likes working with Mike.  Mike takes the time to understand who my son is in order to help him learn and get excited about it.   Mike is also a true professional and is always prepared.  There have been quite a few things to untangle and Mike is truly on top of it.  I get monthly updates via gmail and Mike is always available to answer any questions.  If he is concerned about something, he schedules a phone call.  Mike is a true educator:  He loves getting kids excited about learning, he is a great “detective”, he is a good listener, he is compassionate, he is fun, and he is creative.  Mike also always thinks in terms of my sons best interests.  I have the highest regard for him.    Mike L. Miller, mikecanhelp.net, (415)264-0227