There are many reasons why you might decide to hire a tutor for your children. They might need help with algebra or it could be a writing issue. Perhaps you feel that they are not challenged enough at school, and they might benefit from a little more advanced material. Maybe they’re struggling in certain subjects, and they need to play catch-up to improve their grades. Or maybe your child simply learns more effectively in a one-on-one situation than in the classroom environment.
Whatever reason you have for hiring a tutor, it’s important to pick the perfect educational companion for your child, rather than simply picking the first name on a Google search. Here are just a few of the points you should think about before making your decision.
Level of Experience
Does your child need advanced tutoring or just a helping hand to supervise his or her work when you’re not available? Depending on the need, you’ll want to pick a tutor with the right level of experience, if only to save you from spending too much money.
Average pay for tutors is commensurate with experience and level of education, so you’ll find that the hourly rate varies wildly. A high school or college student looking to earn a few extra dollars may charge $10-15 per hour, while a certified teacher with classroom experience may charge up to $75. If you have the money to spare, you should of course hire the best, but if cost is a factor you should carefully consider the needs of your child.
You should also consider the temperament of your child. Will he or she respond more positively to an authority figure, or will peer-level learning be more effective? If your child seems to have difficulty learning in a classroom environment it may be worth hiring a tutor closer to his or her own age, at least for a while.
Naturally you’ll want to make sure your tutor can produce references from satisfied clients, and any professional should be able to provide them immediately. They should also be able to provide a resume listing their educational qualifications and references for any previous classroom experience.
While cynicism is an ugly quality, when it comes to your child’s future, it’s best to err on the side of caution. Don’t take anyone at his or her word, and be sure to make the time to check out every last reference. If your child will be alone with the tutor during sessions you may also want to consider asking for a criminal record check.
Tutor or Mentor?
Before you call your first prospective tutor you need to sit down with your child and determine exactly what you both hope to achieve. Does your child need a goal-specific tutor or a cheerleader-style mentor? In other words, do you want the tutor to help achieve a specific, measurable goal, such as raising your child a grade level or helping them pass an upcoming test, or do you want a general motivator to come in once a week to help your child stay focused on educational advancement?
If you think your child needs a tutor to tackle a specific problem, it will be important to find someone with the relevant subject expertise. If you need a general mentor this will not be so important.
In general, the most expensive form of tutoring will be one-on-one in your home. Naturally this can be very effective given that your child will have the full attention of the tutor (and in a controlled environment, no less), but if cost is a factor this may be unsustainable.
Fortunately, there are less expensive options available. Tutoring agencies can generally offer experienced, qualified tutors at a much lower cost – perhaps a third of the cost of a private tutor. To keep the costs even lower you might want to consider placing your child in sessions shared with a group of children.
If even this option proves too costly you may want to look into the options offered by your child’s school for after-school classes, or even programs run by local churches and community centers.
Finally, before hiring your child’s tutor you should, of course, schedule an interview during which you can ask any questions that arise. While the interview will clarify any points on which you or the tutor are unclear and help the tutor understand what you expect from him/her, perhaps more importantly it will allow you to get to know the tutor and figure out if this is the type of person you trust to educate your child.
Of course it’s impossible to quantify the feeling you’ll get when you meet the tutor, but your instinct will be one of the most valuable tools at your disposal. If you don’t feel confident that you and your chosen tutor are on the same page with regard to your child’s development, that should be a deal breaker.
Have any other tips to share? Please do so in the space below!
About the author: Sani Golriz is a community blogger and active staff writer for CollegeFocus, a website dedicated to helping students deal with the challenges of college, including housing, finance, style, health, relationships, and transferring from a community college to a four-year university.