Hiring a Private Tutor: Ask the Right Questions!

If you are considering hiring a private tutor for your child or if you need one, do not think that you are alone.  According to Dr. Sandi Ayaz, executive director of the National Tutoring Association, private tutoring in the U.S. alone has “exploded tenfold” over the past eight years. That is a tremendous growth increase!  The reasons for looking into private tutors are almost as many as there are kids.  Some parents hire tutors to help their children overcome academic obstacles, others contract with tutors to encourage and challenge their children in ways that might not be possible in a classroom setting, and still others are looking for tutors to fill in gaps or add to the knowledge their kids are getting in the classroom.

Whatever the objective of the tutoring may be, it’s important for parents and students to take the time to find and hire a tutor who will work well with the student’s learning style and personality.  Here are some great questions to help make sure that that you find a tutor that is right for you:

Questions to Ask Private Tutors Before Starting:

 1. What is your teaching style?

Students learn in a variety of styles and at different paces, which is why it’s impossible for teachers in schools  to structure their classroom lessons to match each individual student’s preferred learning style. The right private tutor, however, can adapt lessons to cater to your child’s strengths whether he is 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 to find out if he can structure lessons in a format that works with your child’s preferred learning style.  And if you don’t know your child’s learning style, check in with his teachers and current school for an assessment or update on that information.  It will be a huge help for both you and any tutor you finally work with.

2. What is your tutoring plan for working with my child?

While this is a pretty open ended question and is difficult for someone who has not yet met your child or even seen examples of their 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 may even have specific methods, for identifying problem areas and understanding the child’s learning behavior. An effective tutor recognizes the importance of working with the student (and in some cases, the parents) to establish performance improvement goals that are both measurable and attainable.  Bottom line – open ended questions like this show the tutor’s comfort level and confidence with respect to their ability to work with your child.  Finding that out early on is critical.

3. Why do you tutor?

Successful tutoring is really about developing a productive learning relationship between any private tutor and their students. Those tutors who are most effective are passionate about teaching and are able to derive value from seeing their students succeed. While many tutors provide lessons and tutoring as a primary or supplemental source of income, the ideal tutor to find 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.  And when you find a tutor like that, you will recognize the difference and the student will also notice the results are measurable as well.

4. Do you have any private tutoring references, or have you worked with students in a similar situation as my child?

Ideally you would find a tutor that is able to provide references and referrals for you to contact.  But they are hard to come by for several reasons.  Not the least of which is that some students or families would prefer to keep their tutoring requirements private.  That’s where an online tutoring source like PrivateTutoringAtHome.com compile lesson ratings and written reviews from actual students who have previously worked with tutors. That allows you to read third-party reviews from parents and students who have worked with a tutor.  It makes it much easier for you to determine what you can expect from a tutor in terms of subject proficiency and personality.  And if you need a tutor, you don’t want to waste time on someone that doesn’t know the material you need to learn or has a different teaching style than will work for your child.  If you choose to hire a tutor on your own rather than through a reputable marketplace, you still want to make sure to ask for references.  Do realize that the reference you receive that way may not be a completely impartial source.

5. How can you help my child become an independent learner?

The most effective and valuable tutoring relationships will help the student become a more engaged, independent learner.  After all, isn’t that what we would all want for our kids?  Memorizing and mastering very specific topics or skills may yield some results, but it is 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.  Looking for your private tutors via our network which includes more than 75,000 active private tutors nationwide in subjects that range from math and science to test preparation and music is sure to offer you a wide range of tutors to help in whatever subject and via any learning style that you may be looking for.

So before you throw in the towel or continue to plow on alone, why not check out some of the private tutors at home that are available today?  You will be amazed at the results that you get!  And don’t forget to let us know how you do in the comments below.

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