So you’ve decided to take the plunge and hire a tutor for your kids? Great. Now, how do you choose a good tutoring service?
There are a lot of tutors to choose from online. From preset programs like Kumon, to tutoring centers like Sylvan Learning to individual tutors in your area. How do you know which one is the best tutor for your family?
Here are some questions and tips to consider when choosing a tutor that is right for you.
It may seem obvious but the tutor should have the base knowledge to help your child with a specific subject they need help with. Bad tutors will often stretch the truth about subjects they can teach in order to secure a client. In other words, they will overpromise and underdeliver. Before you hire a tutor, ask them questions about their knowledge of the specific topics you need help with.
Did they study that subject past high school?
Have they used it in their professional field?
Do they have experience with teaching said subject?
Asking these questions will give you an idea of how much the tutor knows about specific subjects.
Additionally, when looking for a tutor for literacy (reading and writing) for elementary school children, it is especially important to ask about their previous experience. Teaching kids to read and write may seem simple, but it is a complex task; it requires a great deal of knowledge and experience to identify the gaps in learning and formulate a plan to bridge them.
They may know it, but can they teach it?
While the tutor may need basic knowledge of a subject, the next question is to ask is: can they pass that knowledge down to their students? In other words, do they know how to teach? They may be the most brilliant mathematician, but if they cannot effectively break down the material into teachable concepts, then they are useless as a tutor. When searching for a tutor, emphasize their teaching skills over the subject-knowledge.
Does the tutor know too much?
If you are looking for a tutor for kids or teens, you probably do not need someone with a master's or PhD to teach your kids. This may be an unpopular opinion but there is, in fact, such a thing as too much knowledge in certain instances. People well-versed in academia know so much about such a specific topic that they struggle to break down materials for beginners. Students in middle or high school are learning simple, basic concepts in each subject. You do not need a doctor in astrophysicist to tutor your kid in high school science; someone that has successfully finished high school or has some university experience in science classes will suffice.
Personality and rapport
Successful tutoring is at least 50% about relationship: how your child relates to your tutor. This is the reason why often parents who try to help their kids with their academics fail miserably. There needs to be a positive rapport centered around learning in order to be successful; parents cannot always be that person for their own children. Rapport is more important than head knowledge.
Ensure that your tutor is personable and has the type of charisma that is the right fit for your child.
Have the tutor meet your child first, or observe their interactions during the first lesson.
Ask yourself: Does the tutor make an effort to connect with your child? Do they show interest in your child’s opinions or hobbies?
If the tutor jumps straight into the materials without building a rapport first, chances are that your child will not be interested in what they have to say; this will make the lessons ineffective in the long term. This point is especially true for teenagers.
Pricing or rates
If you want a good tutor you need to be realistic about the cost. Any college student can post an ad for tutoring at $10-15/hour; is that really who you want to entrust with your child’s education and future? Don’t waste your time with the cheapest option. As with anything in life, you get what you pay for. If you are committed to spending your hard-earned dollars on a tutoring service, it is best to go with a quality and reputable tutoring service. You may get lucky and stumble upon a good tutor at a cheap rate but, in my experience, good tutors quickly learn their worth and raise their rates accordingly. If you want to learn more about tutoring costs, see my blog post about tutoring rates.
In-person or online?
You may think that having in-person tutoring is always the best choice, but there is also a place for virtual tutoring. With younger children, in-person is usually the best option, but as the child gets older (grade 5 and up), virtual tutoring can be a great fit for any family. With in-person tutoring, you are restricted to whichever tutor is available in your area. Virtual tutoring has opened up a lot of doors that we not even possible a decade ago. You are now able to hire the absolute best tutor for your child, even if they are in a different city or time zone.
Virtual tutoring can save you time as you do not have to drive your child around to your local tutoring centers. It can save you money because tutors will charge extra for visiting your home in person. Online tutoring will benefit students that have busy extracurricular schedules and kids with social anxiety that prefer to not be in the same space with a “stranger.” For this and many other reasons, don’t be quick to dismiss virtual tutoring; take the time to consider it as you may find it to be the best option for you.
Communication is a key aspect of a good tutoring relationship. As a parent, you want to know how your kids are progressing and what they are learning. Nothing worse than paying for a tutor for months only to learn after the final exam that your kid did not learn the necessary concepts to do well in their class. Ask your tutor how they plan to communicate with the parents. The best tutors will prioritize communication. They take the time to send an email after every lesson to let you know how the kid is doing and what to work on between lessons.
A good tutor will go beyond the subject matter to also help your child with soft skills. Soft skills are those skills and habits that will set up a child for success in life. Things like communication, time management, routines, goal setting, etc. Your tutor should not only teach your child about a subject they need improvement on, but also help them learn the importance of soft skills.
There you have it. As you continue on your search for a tutor to help your child, use these guidelines as a measuring stick to know if you have found the right tutor for you. If you are ready to find the best quality tutoring, see what makes us different.