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2019 Jan

Finding the Right Tutor

The right tutor can make all the difference in your child’s education. Learn how to choose the perfect match for your child.

Despite good intentions, many parents face challenges when trying to help a child or grandchild sift through homework assignments, develop good study habits and organizational skills, or prepare for standardized tests. The challenges may stem from a lack of time, experience, or cooperation from the very child they are trying to help! If this sounds familiar, you are not alone. The good news is there is a solution: a tutor.

Hiring a tutor can seem like a dauting task. How do you find a tutor? What makes a tutor “good”? How do you know if you’ve found the right one? You can ask friends, family, or your child’s teachers or guidance counselor for recommendations. The internet can also be a resource, but be sure to read reviews of a given tutoring operation so that you can benefit from the experience of others.

Once you have identified a potential tutor, ask about the candidate’s credentials. Does he or she have a teaching license? Current background check? Experience with one-on-one tutoring? Request a copy of his or her resumé. Knowledge of a tutor’s educational background will boost your confidence in your choice if you hire him/her. These questions are standard protocol for companies that hire tutors, so don’t feel rude asking for the same information. The bottom line is that your child deserves the best quality instruction and support.

Hiring a tutor with a teaching license and/or certification in specific areas (ex. reading specialist, speech therapy, etc.) is incredibly important for younger students (K-6). The skills that students develop in elementary school are fundamental to future success, so choose a tutor that has experience helping students build strong reading, writing, comprehension and arithmetic skills.

Middle school students will likely need help with math and English, as well as the development of good organizational and study habits. Ask your tutor if he/she can help your child become disciplined in these areas. Students often respond more positively to this guidance when it comes from an objective third party rather than a family member.

If your child is in high school, consider asking a potential tutor if he/she has experience in preparing students for the SAT or ACT, as well as the specific subject in which your student is struggling. It is never too early to start developing a game plan for a student’s high school career and college preparation.

The key to identifying a tutor who is the right fit for your child is multifaceted. First, the tutor must understand the subject of concern and have command of the necessary information. You wouldn’t hire an English major to tutor Algebra, for example. It’s also important to find a tutor whose temperament and personality is the right fit.

For example, if your child is highly extroverted and energetic, seek a tutor who can provide a calming, steadying force. Perhaps your child is extremely shy? Look for a tutor who can draw him or her out without being overwhelming. This dynamic between the student and tutor is critical. Little can be accomplished if your child or grandchild does not feel comfortable and inspired to learn.

Costs associated with tutoring are often a concern. Is there a benefit to choosing the cheapest option? Is higher cost associated with higher quality? The most highly qualified tutors are worth the expense. Remember, you are investing in your child’s future. Literally.

Devoting financial resources to helping your child learn to read, write, think mathematically, and think critically will never be money wasted. And the one-on-one time spent with a tutor in just one hour provides more dedicated attention than your child receives in an entire week from a teacher in a classroom of 20-30 students!

Once you have chosen a tutor, communication is key. Ask the tutor if there is anything that you can do to help your child in between tutoring sessions. You should also give your child’s teacher and tutor permission to communicate with each other. The teacher will be able to suggest specific areas on which to focus during tutoring sessions and provide insight into how your child is performing in the classroom.

The right tutor can make all the difference in your child’s education. Personalized instruction and guidance through one-on-one tutoring can turn the tide from so-so academic performance to soaring grades and confidence.

H. Carter Esch, M.Sc., Ph.D. is Tutoring Team Coordinator and Tutor with Tutor A Team. LLC a local tutoring provider. For more information, email carteresch@tutorateam.com or call 757-410-1919.