Looking for a Tutor? Here’s What to Think About
When your child is struggling in school, it’s distressing for the whole family. As such, parents and guardians have turned to private tutors to help them help their children reach their highest potential. According to a 2018 study by Technavio, the market for private tutoring is expected to grow around 7% per year from 2018-2022.
So, with the use of tutors projected to grow, the question becomes how to hire the right tutor? While the price to hire a private tutor varies greatly, they tend to be pricey, so selecting the right one for your child is a decision that needs to be carefully considered.
Does Age Matter?
Students are working with tutors from preschool age to college and beyond. Rachelle N’s son returned to college and was struggling with his calculus class. While at a social event, Rachelle N met a math teacher, and hired her to tutor her son. After one session, the tutor suggested the family work with her daughter who was a math major and would charge a more reasonable rate. Unfortunately, while N’s son felt the tutoring was helpful, he failed the class. “Because of his age, our sole focus when hiring was to find someone who can teach the information,” says N.
However, many dispute this line of reasoning. “The elements of a tutor-tutee relationship are the same regardless of age,” says Jennifer Golden*, a special education middle school teacher for 20 years who has tutored for even longer. Her specialty is Orton Gillingham and the verbal and writing sections of the SAT and ACT, and she works with people from age five and up, including adults. “The tutee is opening up and feels vulnerable. A tutor needs to recognize that emotional element, and doing so allows them to reach the student rather than upsetting them and making them want to leave.”
“The tutee is opening up and feels vulnerable. A tutor needs to recognize that emotional element, and doing so allows them to reach the student rather than upsetting them and making them want to leave.”
The Selection Process
There are many sites available for a parent/guardian to review that will help them in the selection process. Word of mouth is also a prominent way to select a tutor. Although reviews and personal recommendations are helpful, there are other things a parent can do to aid their search for a tutor.
First, it’s important to know your child well. Does your child like to talk, or is she on the quiet side? What type of teacher does he work best with? “When looking for a tutor, ensure the one you select has a level of experience that aligns with your child’s characteristics,” says Jason Patel, founder of Transizion, which helps students take the next step in their journey. Patel personally tutors the college application process and college essays and has worked on SAT and ACT preparation in the past. “Ask [potential tutors] what they’re schedule is, what subjects they’re best at, retention rates, success rates, etc.”
The job of hiring a tutor may seem daunting. So, why not just turn to one of the many established tutoring centers that have outlets across the country? After all, parents/guardians know the exact quality they are getting when going to such outlets. For some, it’s certainly a great option. “There’s a bar which the quality of tutor won’t be below,” says Blake Jensen*, founder of SD Higher Scores, a tutor who works with students on all sections of the SAT, ACT, GRE, and the CARS section of the MACT. However, he asserts that “they don’t have the best people. either.” He points out that “often, the staff doesn’t have teaching credentials and/or little teaching experience, and once they acquire experience, they leave to start tutoring privately.”
Patel says, “The best talent does not always go to certified learning centers, because they don’t want to be managed. Recruitment is expensive, and the large tutoring centers can’t find the best people.”
You’re Hired, Now What?
Once a parent/guardian has hired a tutor, they may think their job is done. Sit back, do what you need to do, and ready yourself to see results. If only it were that simple…
A tutor is expected to be an expert in his/her field and to be able to communicate. The relationship between a tutor and a tutee is the key to success. A tutor needs to establish rapport to get the most out of the student. “You need to have some sort of connection with the tutee as it’s not just an exchange of information” says Jensen. “A tutor needs to connect with the student, or she will just go through the motions.”
In order to establish rapport, Golden has a candid honest conversation with the child when they first meet. “I explain that ‘I’m on your team and we’ll work together,” says Golden. “I encourage communication, and am always checking in with them, so they will be as checked in each session as I am.” Golden also alters her approach depending on the child’s mood and educational goals for the session.
The tutee is the ultimate judge of that rapport. A parent/guardian should take note of how their child reacts to the tutoring appointments. If the child is young enough, they may even want to sit in or at least eavesdrop on a session. A parent/guardian needs to recognize that a rapport takes time to develop. Jensen suggests that parents/guardians check in with the tutor to see how their child is doing. “While they don’t need to necessarily check in every week with the tutor, they should ask about the plan moving forward and get a sense of the big picture. Keep the lines of communication open.”
The Bottom Line
Hiring a tutor is an expense, and finding the right one for your child is a process. However, securing a qualified and skilled tutor can allow your child/guardian to feel supported, encouraged and confident so that she can reach her potential.
* The writer has worked with/for this tutor.
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