Four Steps to Finding an Excellent Tutor for Your Child .pdf
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Four Steps to Finding an Excellent Tutor for Your
Many frustrated parents solve this problem by hiring a tutor. However, each
family has unique needs, and tutors have many degrees of know-how and caring.
So it is important to know what you want, then thoroughly investigate the skill,
experience, commitment and personality of the tutor.
1. Know your goals
Ask yourself or your child's teacher:
What level of help do we need? Does my child need homework help, intensive
remediation, or something in between?
What areas do we want to see the tutor improve: better scores in one subject
(chemistry, geometry); improved general skills (math, reading, science); study
What do I know about my child's learning style? Does he learn best by reading,
listening, moving, touching? Does he do better with men or women? Does he
need lots of nurturing or a firm hand? What motivates and interests him?
How much time and money can you devote to tutoring? Don't skimp, but be
honest with yourself before you start.
2. Know your options
Call your child's school counselor or teacher and share your concern. Good
counselors will have met with your child and should have files on her progress
throughout her school career, her scores on standardized tests, and notes on
possible personality problems. Most schools have a list of registered tutors on file
in the counseling office. Often it's in the form of resumes or fliers. Many times
these are posted in a book for parents to look over before making a choice. Or
schools may post them on a bulletin board for parents and students.
Check out the local paper. Many good tutors list their credentials there.
Ask friends and neighbors for ideas. Retired or "stay-at-home-parent" teachers
may be willing to help out. Make sure they know the subject matter you need.
Call your local branch of a learning center like Sylvan or Kumon. Ask if your child
fits their profile. Usually they work with general problems like reading
comprehension, rather than specific subjects like biology or literature.
Dollars and Sense
Unfortunately, price is often the determining factor in choosing a tutor. However,
it's more important to look at value. A more expensive tutor may be a better fit
for your child and may be more effective in meeting her needs. Don't rule him out
because of his fees.
Beyond cost itself, ask:
What are your payment policies?
Find out in advance what forms of payment your tutor accepts, and when it is
expected. Some tutors accept only cash and require payment at each session.
Some will allow you to prepay a month at a time. Others may bill you for
What are your cancellation policies?
While most Tutoring in Bradford are rather flexible, some require 24-hour notice
if you're going to cancel. Learn this information up front to avoid charges down
3. Test your options
Check credentials carefully. Ask questions to see how well their skills match your
What is your educational background? If the tutor will work on chemistry, she
should have at least a college minor in chemistry. A different education is needed
to teach first-grade reading.
What type of teaching experience do you have? Look for a tutor who has worked
with students similar in age and ability to your child.
Meet with several candidates. Include your child and ask plenty of questions:
How do you evaluate each student's needs? Find out whether the tutor will use
standardized tests, school reports, or other forms of evaluation to discover your
child's strengths and weaknesses.
How long to you think you will need to prepare the lessons? Keep in mind that
difficult subject matter will take longer to prepare, so expect to pay more for the
extra preparation time.
What tutoring methods do you use? A skilled tutor will do more than just answer
questions and do problems with students. He will assess your child's strengths
and weaknesses, prepare individualized materials and use "hands-on" materials
wherever possible. He will work hand-in-hand with the classroom teacher, and
most of all, give your child a "can-do" attitude and lots of positive reinforcement.
What do you expect from me? Good tutors need a family's cooperation. They
need parents to contact classroom teachers and ask for cooperation in making
tutoring a success: a copy of the textbook they use; a syllabus of their class or
subject; any extra worksheets they have that might facilitate the tutorial process.
How do you motivate your students? Think about what motivates your child, and
seek a tutor who uses these methods.
What hours are you available? This question often makes or breaks a deal. You
may have found the perfect tutor, but if she doesn't fit your schedule you're out
Where do you do your tutoring? Tutors usually choose a public place to tutor, like
a library. However, if you have checked out the situation carefully, a home should
be acceptable, especially if another person is at home during the session.
How long do you expect tutoring to last? A tutor can become a crutch, so it's
important to get an estimate of how long it will take to help your child develop
the skills and confidence to succeed independently.
How much do you charge for your services? Cost varies greatly, depending on
subject area, location, and the credentials of the tutor. Neighbors or friends may
charge less, but remember, professional tutors charge professional rates.
What is the range of results you see? How much have other clients improved in
Is there someone I can contact who knows your tutoring skills? You get references
for electricians, doctors and dentists. Doesn't it truly make sense to get a
reference for the person who will be working very closely with your child?
4. Partner for results
Watch how your child relates to the tutor. Sit in on part of a session if possible.
Your child must be comfortable, if you want to see success.
Monitor progress. Ask for feedback from your child, and see if your child's grade
gradually improves. If, after several sessions, you don't see improvement or you
feel a negative attitude in your child, move on to another tutor.
Finding — and keeping — a good tutor involves some work on your part. But then
isn't your child worth all the help you can give?