When you want to choose a tutor, the bad news is that there are thousands to choose from.
The good news is that educational experts and learning experts from HowtoLearn.com offer these 15 best tips to choose a tutor so you narrow your choice, and make an informed decision that benefits your child.
It is no secret that investing in a private tutor will revolutionize any student’s educational experience but it helps to have the best ways to do it when your child needs one.
Advantages to Hiring a Tutor
Private tutors not only provide students with the academic support that they need to ensure top marks in whatever they’re studying, but they also boast a number of other benefits, ranging from helping learners establish important transferable skills to providing busy students with tuition at a time and a place that suits them.
The advantages of hiring a private tutor are clear, but how to actually choose the right tutor for you is a different story.
In recent years, especially, the private tutoring industry has boomed, in both the U.S. and the UK.
For example, in the UK, over 6 million students are currently seeking additional support with their education according to TutorHouse.
As a result, there are plenty of tutors out there, so the question is: how do you find the right one for you? We’re here with a list of the best ways to choose your perfect tutor.
15 Best Tips to Choose a Tutor
1. Look carefully at your child’s academic strengths and weaknesses
Before you embark upon the search for the perfect tutor, the first thing you need to do is make sure that you know exactly what you and your child needs from from a tutor.
Every student is unique and will have their own weaknesses, strengths, quirks, and particular aspects of their education that they find challenging, so it is important to know what these are in advance.
If you are looking for a tutor for your child, the best way to determine exactly what they need help with is to simply ask them – inqure about which subjects they find easy and which they want to get some additional help with in order to reach their full potential.
This will help you to gauge their attitude towards the idea of private tuition and the way in which they will likely approach their lessons, as well as their level of interest and confidence in each of the subjects they are studying.
At this stage, it’s a great idea to take a look at your child’s work they turn in to the teacher for insight on how you can best help.
2. Keep Your Child’s Learning Style in Mind
It is a well-known fact that education is a highly unique experience, and as a result, a ‘one size fits all’ approach simply doesn’t work when it comes to choosing a tutor.
A tutor that is perfect for someone else may not work for your child simply because they don’t start at the beginning, by assessing your child’s learning style so their work can be aligned with this.
We recommend that you give your child the FREE Learning Styles Quiz on HowtoLearn.com first and then you’ll have their learning style results so you can share this with your child’s tutor.
Before beginning with any tutor, it’s important to ask what their feelings on learning styles are and whether they have a way of assessing your child for that.
You need to be assured learning styles will be incorporated into your child’s tutoring sessions or else your child may quickly tire of trying to use a style which is not compatible with theirs.
After deciding to enlist the help of a private tutor and recognising the areas that your child needs support with, the next thing you will need to do is to consider what the most important things you are looking for in a tutor, including budget, location and availability.
3. Get References from Other Parents
Whenver you have a person working closely with your child, it’s essential to get references from other parents.
They will tell you honestly, how that person’s demeanor is and what the results were for their child.
This will give you a solid context in choosing a tutor, and one that far exceeds anything they can just read about the tutor in a brochure or online.
Spend a few minutes and contact the parents who have already used the tutor’s services.
4. Determine Budget and Availability of Your Tutor
Take into account your budget and the tutor’s availability to fit into your schedule and your child’s.
Tutors will normally set their own rates – generally between $30 and $90 per hour ( £30 and £90 in the U.S.) so it is up to you to choose what you would like to pay for the tuition.
Ask what their availability is as well and see how you can fit this into your schedule.
Also, consider the age of the tutor.
Are you looking for a younger tutor with slightly less experience who you feel will connect better with your child?
Or an older tutor who is also a professor at a university and has decades of experience?
Whatever your preference, it is a good idea to think about what is important to you before you embark upon the hunt for the perfect tutor.
5. Consider Your Tutor’s Experience and Qualifications
Leading on from the last point, it is also vital that you take into consideration your tutor’s experience and qualifications before you begin working with them.
Depending on the level of tuition you are looking for, it is likely that your requirements will vary quite substantially, so make sure to find out about your tutor’s previous relevant experience and what qualifications they have beforehand.
Find out which school and university they attended, what they studied and what other qualifications they may also possess.
Ask what their areas of expertise are.
You can also check if they have Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), which is another factor that may influence your choice of tutor.
It’s important to remember that qualifications and experience don’t always make a good tutor – there are lots of other factors that may come into play when you are determining who is the right tutor for you – but it is still important to bear this in mind.
6. Choose Which is Best, Online or in Person
Another thing that is important to consider when you are looking for a tutor is if you would rather receive tuition online or in-person.
Both have their benefits, and the decision will come down to a range of things, from your location to your budget.
One of the benefits of using an online tutor, and one of the reasons some people prefer online tuition, is that sessions can take place anywhere – as long as the student has access to a laptop, computer or ipad, and wifi.
Furthermore, travelling can be highly time-consuming and pretty expensive, and through opting to receive tuition online, these costs are eradicated.
This not only means that you don’t have to worry about your tutor getting stuck in traffic and turning up late as a result, but is also likely to lower the cost of your tutor as they won’t have to factor travel expenses into their hourly rate.
Moreover, online sessions can suit some students more than in-person tuition, as due to the fact that neither the student nor the tutor has to travel anywhere, sessions can be shorter and arranged at more frequent intervals if the student prefers it.
For some, this works perfectly, as having shorter sessions more often can work as a means of keeping students motivated to stay on top of their studies in order to ensure they are fully prepared for their next lesson.
Whatever your preference, whether you want your tutor to teach in-person or online is another important step in choosing your perfect tutor.
7. Consider a Tutoring Agency Instead of an Individual Tutor
As demonstrated above, one of the best things about private tutoring, and the principal thing that distinguishes tutoring from regular classroom education, is that you have the freedom to find a tutor that meets your precise requirements.
In other words, you can personalize your child’s learning and match it with the tutor for your child.
Plus the tutor will always have the time to work individually with your child.
Whilst there are several ways that you can go about finding your perfect tutor, by far the best way to ensure that you are working with a tutor who is your ideal match is to sign up with a tutoring company.
Tutoring agencies work with hundreds of tutors, all specializing in different subjects, levels and areas.
Plus, tutoring agencies have already background checked their tutors and you can be assured that their tutoring skills’ expertise is up to par as well.
This gives you far and away much more latitude in your choice for tutors, plus if you discover your child needs more than one tutor in different subjects, the tutoring agency will have more qualified tutors to choose from.
Therefore, they are sure to be able to match you with a tutor that will provide each student with tuition that complements their unique learning style, personal and academic goals and strengths and weaknesses.
8. Get Your Child’s Buy-in When You Choose a Tutor
The concept of tutoring can easily be elevated to a benefit for your child and if you have their buy-in your child is much more likely to succeed.
Make sure that you ask your child what qualities they will look for in their tutor, while helping them understand that a tutor will help them achieve success.
This process needs to be as personal and positive as possible.
Your child will need to buy-in for tutoring or it simply will not work. Ask him or her what they feel would work best for them.
This is one of the very best ways to begin the process of choosing a tutor for your child.
9. Insist on Monthly Progress Reports and More Often if Needed
Before your child begins with a tutor, you’ll want to know how they will communicate with you and share the progress that your child is making.
Make sure that there is an agreement in place to provide a written progress report once a month, or more often if needed.
One of the most important things you can do in understanding how to choose a tutor is to make sure there is good follow up on progress with the tutor.
In this way you can rest assured that your child is actually making progress toward the goal, or make any adjustments as needed.
10. Decide on a Cancellation Policy in Advance
Once you choose a tutor, we all know that illness or other events can interrupt the child’s time with the tutor.
Find out what type of cancellation policy there is in advance. Is it 24 hours or two days?
What are the exceptions to the cancellation policy?
Remember, your tutor schedules their time and this needs to be respected, just as they respect your time.
If you ask all these questions up front, both tutor and parent will know how much lead time, except in an absolute emergency such as hospitaliztion, is needed to cancel a lesson.
11. Ask What Homework Will be Required and Follow Up on Homework Each Session
Many tutors assign follow up homework and you need to make sure that this is taken care of before the next lesson, as it is essential to your child’s succees.
Talk this over with your child’s tutor before hiring one so you can have input on how much and how often they will be expected to do assignments applying what they have taught your child.
12. Create a Support Network About Tutoring for Your Child
Enlisting the collaboration and support of every adult in your child’s life will help ensure that tutoring is successful for your child.
Talk with your child’s teacher about what type of tutoring is taking place and ask for their support.
Ask the teacher to regularly share your child’s progress in the subject being tutored.
Speak with other parents and have them communicate with their kids too, so there is no teasing involved about tutoring.
Enlist the support of grandparents, aunts and uncles so they can all cheer your child on to their goals!
13. Tell the Tutor You Will be Observing One or Two Lessons
When your child works with an adult, it is very helpful to observe how they interact and what seems to work or not work for your child.
Tell both your child and the tutor, in advance, that you will be obseriving a couple of sessions. This will help you evaluate how they interact and whether you feel this tutor is best for your child.
14. Ask What Type of Pre and Post Assessment the Tutor Will Give Your Child Before They Begin Tutoring
In order for your child to succeed during tutoring, the tutor will need to provide the results of a pre assessment and a post assessment.
Find out precisely what that assessment is and what it will cover.
Then ask how often post assessments are given to measure progress.
Ask how long the assessments take and how they will share the results with both you and your child.
Then, you’ll have a way a really good understanding of whether your child is actually making progress and you’ve held both your child and the tutor to measureable standards.
15. Make Tutoring Fun and Celebrate Milestones With Your Child
Once your child has begun tutoring, find both little and big ways to celebrate their success milestones.
This will be fun for you to create and ask your child what they would like to do in order to celebrate. Plus, you’ll feel great you knew how to choose a tutor!
Remember, a child needs fun and reinforcement in order to be successful.
Take your child out for ice cream after one of the sessions that went well, reward your child with something tangible after they’ve been in tutoring for several weeks, when a classroom test shows success!
Celebrate tutoring success and your child will love it, even though there is hard work involved.
If you are looking for a tutor in the U.K. Tutor House works with the best tutors in the country, ensuring every student has everything that they need to excel in their studies.
If you are in the U.S. Wyzant is the most highly ranked sites to tutoring with guaranteed background checks and matching for SAT, ACT and all subjects as well.
Pat Wyman is the founder of HowtoLearn.com and known as America’s Most Trusted Learning Expert. She is the author over 15 books including Amazing Grades, Smarter Squared and The One-Minute Gratitude Journal.