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How to Choose a Tutor

by Margot F. | April 2nd, 2014 | Elementary, School

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAre you concerned about your child’s academic progress? Would hiring a tutor be helpful? How do you find a tutor? What issues should you consider?

Firstly, decide why you want to hire a tutor. Are you concerned about remediation or maintenance? “Remediation” concentrates on addressing specific gaps in learning, usually reading, math or writing. As skill development improves, the tutor will broaden the areas that need to be strengthened. For example, a tutor specializing in reading will initially spend time on decoding then move onto spelling and writing.

“Maintenance” refers to helping a student adjust to a new academic environment. For example, a student who is changing schools or academic programs might need assistance adjusting to the new expectations. By becoming more organized (filling out the school agenda each day) and completing assignments on time, the student will become a more independent learner.

“Remediation/Maintenance” (Support Tutoring) helps a student who is performing below grade level to spend half the time on skills and the other half on completing school work. This approach is beneficial for students with a learning disability who want to complete academics at grade level.

Secondly, consider the cost. Yes, this is important. A parent’s initial reaction to helping a child needing a tutor is to say, “I’ll find the money somehow.” Unfortunately this can lead to bigger problems down the road. If money is a concern, ask the school if there is a homework club where university students provide tutoring for free. Consider hiring a tutor to work with your child and another student, thereby splitting the cost. Also, it costs more to hire a tutor to come to your home than going to another location. Group sessions cost less depending on the number of people. Ensure there is enough money to provide tutoring for at least four months, the time needed to start seeing results.

Thirdly, where do you look? Start by asking friends, neighbors, teachers or family members if they can recommend any tutors. Contact the local school board to see if there is a list of tutors in the area. Advocacy groups for students with learning disabilities tend to have lists of tutors. Contact tutoring franchises to find tutors working in your area. In both Canada and the United States, there are websites that list tutors in your area.

Once you find a tutor, pre-screen the person over the phone. Ask about qualifications, references, rate of pay and criminal record check. Next, schedule an in-person interview to see the list of references, proof of qualifications and criminal record check. Show a piece of your child’s work or latest report card and discuss how the tutor might help. How will the child’s progress be evaluated? Talk about a tutoring schedule and payment. If you think the person is a good match, introduce your child. Once tutoring begins, continue to monitor progress. During private tutoring sessions, ensure a young child is accompanied by a parent or trusted adult. Children learn best when they feel safe.

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