Peer Tutoring: offers academic reinforcement, stronger connections and valuable leadership skills

Over the years that it has been available to students, the Peer Tutoring program at the Country Day School has become a fixture of the Student Services Centre. As a peer tutor myself, I would say that it plays an essential role in the maintenance of academic confidence and support at the school. Last week, I sat down with Ms. Purdy, Guidance Teacher, Learning Strategist, and the peer tutoring supervisor this year, to speak briefly about the program, how it operates, and what it brings to the CDS community.

Peer tutoring is an exceptional opportunity offered at CDS for students in need of academic support and able students willing to be tutors. The two students in a match meet up once or twice a week in sessions in which the tutor helps the younger student with homework and classwork, aims to reinforce the content learned in class and helps with test and exam preparation.

Getting a peer tutor to help a student is quite simple and there are several ways in which students may be matched up. For one, if the student is in the Senior School, they may seek out help on their own by asking their counsellor to be matched with somebody who can assist them. Counsellors and parents may also suggest peer tutoring for a student if they consider it important for the student’s academic well-being and success at CDS. “Exam time is definitely the time when there is a spark in interest and activity in the peer tutoring program,” Ms. Purdy says. “Students tend to seek help for organization, study note creation, and general studying during this time.”

I asked Ms. Purdy whether she believes there are any benefits to having another student help a peer in need rather than an external tutor. “Absolutely – there are many advantages to having your child tutored by a peer at the school,” she says. “For one, it is less intimidating for the student and they are able to build a stronger connection to someone that is closer in age to them. The material that the tutor is teaching is fresher in a peer’s mind having recently learned the material, and the tutor can always ask the subject teacher questions readily if any uncertainties arise. Not to mention, peer tutoring is done during the school day, which makes it wonderfully convenient and accessible.”

The program is not only a spectacular chance for academic reinforcement and aid for students in need, but also a unique opportunity for the students who take on the responsibility of being tutors. Students interested in completing volunteer work, giving back to the school community, and developing valuable skills such as leadership and teaching should look no further than becoming tutors. Peer tutoring allows the students to learn to advocate for others, build confidence, and use their experience from previous school years to assist another student. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing a student you are working with grow academically with your help. With my experience as a tutor for two students last year, I can say that even though there were several difficulties and roadblocks along the way, I truly believe that, in a small way, I contributed to their development as students at the school.

Assuming the role of a peer tutor is especially fitting for students who feel as though they want to take on a leadership role at CDS and help others, but are more reserved and prefer to exhibit this leadership in a one-on-one setting. In my opinion, students who dedicate themselves to assisting other students and truly put all of their effort into ensuring that the student they are tutoring improves and gains a deeper understanding of the content they learn are no less leaders than the students who display leadership publicly in large group settings.

I then inquired about where Ms. Purdy sees peer tutoring at CDS going in the near future and what long term benefits it will bring to the school community. “I hope to see the program continue to grow and help many more students as it becomes an addition to our expanding Student Services Centre,” she notes. “I believe that it is a vital aspect of our institution and fundamental to the upholding of that sense of togetherness and support that the SSC is designed for. It allows peers to build relationships and younger students to gain role models and mentors who they can look up to and connect with on a level not possible without peer tutoring.”

By: Christina Chkarboul ’21