Having a child that struggles in school is one the most frustrating experiences—both for you and them. Every child is different and requires a different educational plan. It’s impossible for teachers to structure their classroom lessons to match each individual student’s preferred learning style. The right tutor, however, can adapt lessons to cater to your child’s strengths. If extra help is needed and Mom or Dad can’t provide it, hiring a tutor may be the answer.
When considering tutoring, we have to examine the cost and logistics. (Yes, tutoring can be expensive, but nothing has a greater cost than ignorance!) If you’re willing to make the financial and time commitments, how do you even begin to find someone to work with?
Here are my tips for finding the ideal tutor:
1. Get a recommendation
Quality tutors are available in almost every community. Start by asking your child’s teacher or Principal for a recommendation. Also talk to other parents and see what kind of experiences they have had. Don’t expect their opinions to be impartial, but it’s a decent starting place. Make sure whoever you hire is willing to provide reliable references. It goes without saying that a tutor should have a clean criminal background! Don’t ever hire someone who has abused children in the past!
2. Ask why they tutor
Tutoring is about building a productive learning relationship between a tutor and student. The most effective tutors are individuals who are passionate about teaching and are able to derive value from seeing their students succeed. While most tutors provide lessons as a source of income, the ideal tutor will take a vested interest in your child’s progress and have the patience and willingness to do whatever it takes to help your child succeed.
3. Determine teaching style
Is your child an auditory learner (learns best by listening), visual learner (learns best through sight), or a kinesthetic learner (learns best through experience)? Before you hire a tutor, make sure they can structure lessons in a format that is conducive to your child’s preferred learning style. Many children who are considered bad students simply aren’t exposed to their preferred learning method.
4. Create a concrete plan
Ask the tutor, “What is your plan for helping my child succeed?” While this may seem like a loaded question for someone who has not yet met your child or even seen examples of his/her school work, the response will reveal the tutor’s thought process for diagnosing your child’s needs and creating a plan to achieve the desired results. The right tutor will have a strategy, and possibly specific methods, for identifying problem areas and understanding the child’s learning behavior.
An effective tutor will also recognize the importance of working with the student to establish performance goals that are both measurable and attainable.
5. Encourages independent learning skills
The ideal tutor knows their work is temporary. The most effective and valuable tutoring relationships will help the student become a more engaged, independent learner. Memorizing and mastering very specific topics may yield some results, but it’s ultimately a short-term solution to the student’s broader educational needs. While certain lessons may focus on a particularly troublesome topic, learning to understand and appreciate the learning process, theory and logic behind concepts will help your child overcome subsequent obstacles, avoid future frustration and flourish as a student.
Have you ever hired a tutor for you child? Was it a good or bad experience?