Tutoring fosters better grades, improved family relationships

Literacy is not only learning to read, but also learning to cope with society, said Luseane Fa`aumu Philip, Relief Society education counselor in the San Francisco California East (Tongan) Stake.

Being able to cope, she said, "helps you feel you belong."Understanding and belonging are important in a stake where many of its members emigrated from Tonga and now have children growing up in a society different from the one in which they were reared.

Stake members were noticing that some youth were drifting away from their families and the Church - and some were being pulled to gangs.

Some wards implemented tutoring groups for youth in members' homes. One such ward, the Peninsula 2nd (Tongan) Ward, in which Sister Philip resides, initiated study groups as a result of the emphasis on the Gospel Literacy Effort.

"We wanted to focus on the kids because their grades were falling and also to get the kids away from the gangs," Sister Philip told the Church News.

She explained that the study group, which began last school year, meets in the evenings at a member's home during the school week. The young people study through the evening, under supervision of adults, while parents provide dinner.

"With this program," Sister Philip noted, "there is improvement in parents' involvement. The youth see that the parents care. The parents and youth are brought together."

The group has experienced some positive results. "The students' rapport with school teachers has improved; even their grades are improved. One youth who was involved with gangs is going to a study group. The feedback I got was that he is slowly pulling away from the gang.

"Some youth were flunking, and when they got into the study group, amazingly they began pulling As and Bs."

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