Another Option for Homework Help and College Prep in Wilton

Many of us have been there, trying to coach our children through their homework, or trying to come up with a plan to help them raise their grades. Building strong study skills may not come easily or naturally to every child–and not every parent is skilled at helping their children learn how to be a better student. Worst case scenario, it’s a scene out of The War of the Roses, parent-child style.

That’s where the Wilton business, College Nannies + Tutors may be of help.

“The mission statement of our business is ‘building stronger families.’ When kids are younger, with two working parents, they need more support on the nanny side so we do that with great child care. But when kids are older, their job is to be a student and get good grades. If they don’t, school suffers, the home environment can suffer, you’re not building a stronger family.” says Leona Peiffer, owner.

Sometimes having an objective bystander in the mix–in this case a trained tutor–may be the extra element that a student needs. “They may not do for you what they will do for the tutor,” Peiffer adds. “The tutor can be that role model. Our tutors are young, upbeat, energetic. These are college grads who these middle and high schoolers can look up to and emulate. And they can have a type of conversation that’s different than a parent.”

Kurt Nesteruk is the learning center coordinator for the Wilton office of College Nannies + Tutors, and he’s the center’s lead tutor. He echoed what Peiffer said, from personal experience. “As they grow to trust me, I try to communicate to the students that at the end of the day their parents, the teachers and we are all there to help them. When they make the connection with a tutor, and then hear a tutor say that, they understand it better.”

As for the center’s focus, Peiffer explains, “We do customized, one-on-one tutoring for college-bound students. Our market is middle schoolers and high schoolers. Some of it can be just a little support for homework help maybe just once a week to get them through the week with a little bit of help, and then there are students who need more intensive help in several subjects. Our philosophy is to pull apart the backpack, rather than a book-based philosophy starting in Sept. where you pay monthly tuition, where you follow along with the book. Instead, it’s designed more on an as-needed basis, so if you just need a couple weeks or months, that’s fine.”

In addition to doing course-specific tutoring they also run organizational skills and study skills programs.

Nesteruk, 23, is a Wilton High School grad Class of 2008, so he’s still very familiar with the teachers, the coursework and the system used at the high school and in the district–for example which classes are great to take in preparation for courses that come in future years.

“Knowing the teachers really helps. But even though I’m now an educator, when I’m sitting down with them, for them it feels like students sitting down doing work together,” he said, adding, “We definitely try to work with the teachers. I recently reached out to a teacher of a student I’m working with–with parent permission–anytime I have the opportunity I will, to see if they ask questions in class, or go for extra help; also to see what the curriculum is for the rest of the year.” If parents permit it too, the tutors will utilize PowerSchool to help keep track of a student’s upcoming testing and assignment schedule.

With heavy coursework and busy extracurricular schedules, it can happen that Wilton students become overwhelmed with the juggle. “I feel like when they meet with someone, especially someone who has dealt with the same high school and later college process, it’s reassuring to them to hear, ‘I’m here. I’m all right, you can get through it too. It is a lot–the hockey and the college prep, and the exams. But you can do it.’ When they figure it out, that moment of confidence can snowball. They just keep going,” Nesteruk said.

The other main focus area for the tutoring center is college testing preparation. No matter what year in high school a student is, they can help with preparation. For example, Nesteruk distinguishes between the PSAT–which he says “doesn’t have the same gusto as the actual SAT. It’s really more for sophomores”–and the practice testing they offer juniors and seniors. Once a month they offer free sessions for practice test taking. Students can take the actual ACT and SAT tests from last year under similar conditions as actual testing–timed to the same time limit, moderated, and scored.

According to Pieffer and Nesteruk, right now is the time juniors should start exposing themselves to the testing environment and the real tests themselves. Summer is also a good time to enroll in a college test prep programs.

Nestoruk and Peiffer can help guide students on which of the two tests is a better choice based on a student’s skills and test-taking abilities, and map out a one-on-one tutoring plan to prepare to take the test for real. “We’ve tried classes in the past but it’s not as successful as one-on-one work,” Peiffer said.

In the next couple of months, the tutors are also focused on AP test prep. “The first two weeks of May are AP tests, and we’re running a ‘boot camp’ in April that’s a comprehensive review and we do practice problems, and expose them to what the AP test is like,” Nesteruk said.

College Nannies + Tutors is located at 396 Danbury Rd., right across from the high school. You can reach them at 203.987.3343 or via email, or you can visit their website