As you embark on your journey of hiring the perfect tutor for your child, keep these 12 considerations in mind—next time you’re looking for a tutor, bring along our printable PDF version of this checklist!
1. How much is the tutor suggesting you budget for?
Tutoring can be costly. It’s best to get clear on the costs, as well as how much tutoring your family should budget for. We’ve previously outlined how much a tutor should cost, so you can use that as your baseline.
2. Is the tutor teaching skills that can extend beyond their sessions with your child?
It’s great that your child has success while working with the tutor! But it’s important that your child can use the strategies the tutor is teaching even when the tutor isn’t there. Most of the time, the life skills a tutor teaches are more valuable than the subject-specific skills.
3. Is the tutor approachable?
Students struggling with a particular subject often have a fear of the teacher teaching that subject. Rossana Llenado, award-winning founder of online tutoring firm Ahead Learning Systems, confirms this. She notes that one of the main reasons students can’t keep up is because they have a strong fear of their strict teacher.
A Unicef study has established a correlation between learning and fear in children as well. The study focuses on corporal punishment, but the same principles apply to verbal and emotional punishment. It states that “a common effect of punishment is a growing fear of teachers among school children and therefore a dislike of school. When driven by fear of punishment, children learn simply to please the teacher and not to acquire skills and knowledge for their own development. Children who are physically and emotionally abused develop anxiety that causes loss of concentration and poor learning.”
To prevent these effects (or reverse them), look for a private tutor who can interact with your child in a gentle way. They need to be approachable enough to make learning comfortable—your child shouldn’t be afraid to make mistakes. Your tutor should have the ability to form a fearless, healthy, and communicative relationship with your child. If your tutor relies on punishment tactics, find a new tutor.
4. Does the tutor have the ability to teach the subject matter in a fun, engaging way?
Some tutors simply have a knack for teaching, even without formal training. But many untrained tutors, while incredibly knowledgeable, are completely incapable of teaching in a way that works for their students. This is why it’s important to seek qualified professionals with proven track records.
Again, Rossana Llenado of Ahead Learning Systems supports this idea. She notes that her most successful tutors are those who know their subject matter (possess a university degree) and make learning quick and fun for students. Thus, hiring a math genius is not necessarily a guaranteed way to boost your child’s algebra grade. Sure, that math genius can do all the difficult questions themselves, but can they put the complicated procedure into terms your twelve-year-old can understand?
Before hiring a tutor, check their academic credentials and teaching experience by asking for referrals and transcript records. Talk to other parents who have hired that tutor for their own children—you’ll want to know if the tutor succeeded in helping them. Also, ask the tutor about their teaching method and syllabus. If you’re the least bit unsure about what they tell you, that’s a red flag.
Lastly, be very clear about your child’s special designations and learning disabilities. These can influence the way a tutoring session is conducted, and you need to know if the tutor is qualified to accommodate your child’s needs.
5. Should I consider using an online tutor?
Yes! Tons of students find success with online tutoring. Online tutors are well equipped with plenty of resources and methods at their disposal, and many tutors and students actually prefer online tutoring to in-person tutoring.
Online tutoring allows for a more flexible schedule since kids can join their sessions from home with ease. All they have to do is hop on their smartphone, tablet, or computer, and they’re ready to go!
Make sure you set up a quiet space in which your child can work uninterrupted. Try to limit contact with pets, siblings, and other distractions. Even though your kid is comfy at home, they should feel like they’re in a professional, productive setting during their tutoring sessions.
Most reputable tutoring organizations offer online tutoring services, so as long as they tick boxes 1 and 2 on this checklist, don’t be afraid to give them a try! But before signing on, check to confirm which platform they plan to use. The best online tutors use an interactive online whiteboard complete with pictures, videos, and voice chat. If your prospective tutor can’t offer this, find someone who can.
6. What is the tutor’s process and plan for tutoring?
A tutor should have an orientation meeting for parents and learners to present an overview of their teaching methods and process. The method and process must be able to “diagnose” your child’s strengths and weaknesses and devise a tutoring plan that will offer solutions for your child’s success.
7. How will the tutor communicate with you about your child’s progress? Will they let you know what you can be doing at home to support your child?
It’s important to reinforce what’s being done with the tutor at home. It’s key to know what methods and materials they are using, as well as what progression they are seeing. Therefore, a tutor should provide reports on a monthly basis.
8. Will the tutor communicate with your child’s teacher?
A tutor willing to communicate with your child’s teacher is one of the best indications! The teacher is somebody who can be seen as the expert in the situation and can be one of the best advocates for exactly what help will be beneficial. Also, it is the best glimpse into your child’s world at that moment in time. And finally, getting the teacher involved will ensure everyone is working on the same team for your child’s success.
9. Is the tutor able to work with someone with a learning style different than their own?
An amazing tutor is able to instill in your child the belief that they can learn anything. That means they should be able to teach the subject however the child needs to learn it. So, be sure to choose a tutor who understands all learning styles and has methods to teach each style.
10. Is this going to be solely homework-based tutoring or is the tutor going to go above and beyond into skills such as organization?
Make sure the tutor you hire won’t pile more work onto your already drowning child. Instead, look to hire someone who understands that a massive part of completing homework is figuring out how to organize and prioritize.
11. What is your child’s initial and ongoing reaction to the tutor? Does your child get to evaluate the tutor?
Your child has to be engaged in the process with the tutor. Give them a voice and a choice in the matter! Even better, give your child the opportunity to use their voice during the tutoring process to essentially “grade” their tutor.
12. Does your child relate to their teacher?
Let’s face it: sometimes personalities clash or the styles of different learners and teachers don’t quite match up. We’re all human! If your child is suggesting that either of those situations is happening with their teacher, see if the school will engage in a conversation and work out a solution. If it’s not something that can be rectified at the school level, then a tutor might be necessary.
In this case, it would be crucial to hire a tutoring agency as opposed to an individual tutor. An agency will have many tutors to choose from, and this freedom of choice will give your child the opportunity to feel like they have a say in their education.
In summary, look for a compassionate, qualified tutor, and don’t settle for less! Once you find the perfect tutor, talk to them directly about your child’s concerns, both education-related and otherwise. It takes a village to raise a child, and your tutor is part of that village. Together, you can help your child build a healthy relationship with learning, and that relationship will last a lifetime.
Want to take this checklist wherever you go? Download our printable PDF version!
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