10 Tips for Choosing a Tutor
Based on the work of: Denise Yearian
1. Pitch & Persuade
Before searching for a tutor, discuss it with your child to get his buy in. Keep the conversation positive: “You know how subject/topic x is kind of hard sometimes? We are going to find someone who can help you with it.” Most students don’t like to struggle, so if your child is aware that there is a problem, he may be more likely to want help. Even so, expect apprehension and offer encouragement.
2. Consider priorities
There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to tutoring. It depends on your child’s needs, setting, convenience and cost. Some people choose a private tutor. Others go with a tutoring center. Still others opt for an online service. When choosing a setting – either small group or one-on-one instruction – determine which is the best fit for your child.
3. Get recommendations
Ask others about the tutor you are considering. Begin asking your child’s teacher, or others within the school community. Other parents are a good resource, too.
4. Check credentials
Find out if the tutor has experience teaching the subject that your child needs help with. Ensure that he/she understands educational theory, instructional strategies and remedial approaches. Equally important to experience is teaching style. Ask if the tutor has taught children of similar age and learning style as your child. Likewise, consider personality and attitude. Is the tutor patient, upbeat and encouraging? Is he congenial with children?
5. Tally the track record
It’s equally important to also check references and track record. Does the tutor have referrals or satisfaction surveys from past parents and students that prove he has helped them raise test scores? Does he have their word that he helped improve classroom grades and/or experience better homework completion?
6. Time it Right
Although extracurricular activities and parents’ work schedules often dominate the clock, try to be flexible so that tutoring sessions are held at a time when your child is most open to learning. Some students need a break after school. Know what timing works best for your child and adjust your schedule accordingly.
When formulating tutoring goals, get everyone on board – teacher, tutor, parent and child. Teachers and tutors are aware of what the goals should be, but parents know their child best and should be involved in the goal-setting process. It’s ideal if the tutor and teacher work toward a common goal and communicate to reinforce each other’s techniques.
8. Request progress reports
Many tutors offer periodic progress reports and will check off goals and redefine them, if necessary. Ask for a sample of progress reports to see if they are clear and helpful. Also inquire how often reports will be given.
9. View policies
Clarify policies before signing on the dotted line. Some tutors charge clients if an appointment is canceled without a 24-hour notice. Others have detailed policies for scheduling makeup sessions. Also ask about substitutes. How much say will you have in who teaches your child, in the event your tutor is unable to make it?
10. Show Support
Remember, parents play an important role in the whole learning process, so look for practical ways to support your child’s academic endeavors. At the end of each tutoring session, find out what he is expected to do before the next one – whether it’s memorizing his multiplication facts or completing all of his classroom assignments – and support those learning efforts at home.