This is the VOA Special English EDUCATION REPORT.
Traditionally, children in the United States have often gotten help with schoolwork from parents, grandparents and older sisters and brothers. This still happens. But many students today also get help from tutors. The National Tutoring Association says the number of these private teachers has increased greatly in the past ten years.
Some are paid. Others give their time. A tutoring project in Chicago, Illinois, for example, offers free tutoring to poor children.
Some high school students help other students for free. Younger students may do this "peer tutoring" as well.
Tutors are often professional teachers. Or, they may be experts in the subjects they tutor. For example, a scientist may tutor a student having trouble with biology. Many tutors charge between ten and fifty dollars per hour.
Students are often tutored at home. Others go to learning centers for help with schoolwork. Many centers have very small classes. One teacher may work with just three students. Or, students can be tutored on their computers. Some lessons on the Internet provide direct voice communication with teachers.
Several reasons may explain the increase in the popularity of tutoring in America. In many homes, both parents work. They may not have much time to help children with schoolwork. Also, the American education system has become much more competitive.
Students take many tests. Schools must have high scores on some statewide tests if they are to receive government money. So classroom teaching may progress too fast for some children, as teachers try to prepare students for what might be tested.
Also, students in their last years of high school take tests required for college. At that time, the students may hire tutors. Or they may attend learning centers to improve their scores.
Some parents choose tutoring because they worry that their children simply are not learning enough in school. Or, their children may want more difficult work than their schools provide.
A woman who has tutored extensively in the Washington, D.C., area says even a little additional help can sometimes make a big difference in a student's life.
This VOA Special English EDUCATION REPORT was written by Jerilyn Watson.