What is a Private Tutor? And What Does a Tutor Do?

Are you unsure about what a tutor is and how tutoring can help you or your child?  Don’t worry, you aren’t alone!  We get asked that question a LOT!

What is a Tutor?

Happy Student with a Book

When it comes to achieving academic success you often hear the phrase ‘get a tutor’. This is all well and good, but it is probably useful to know what is a tutor and how tutoring can help before you hire one. The most common, and obvious, reason that parents enlist the support of a tutor is to help their child. It doesn’t matter whether the child is struggling or needs a boost to excel further, the one-on-one personalized sessions are invaluable. Keep reading to find out just how valuable this can be for students and parents alike.

What is the Difference Between a Teacher and a Tutor?

The terms teacher and tutor are often thrown around interchangeably, but ‘teacher’ isn’t just a tutor synonym. There are a few key differences when it comes to what they actually do. Both have a student’s best interests at heart and work incredibly hard to help each student reach their individual academic potential. However, due to the nature of their work, strategies and outcomes will often vary. First, let’s look at the role and responsibility of teachers;

  • Teachers must follow a set curriculum and provide learning opportunities to many children at a time.
  • Teachers need to develop a ‘best-fit’ teaching strategy. This means that their lessons aim to try and cater for a variety of needs and abilities. Whilst every care is taken to ensure this is done, it is inevitable that some students won’t receive the exact information they need.
  • Teachers must abide by state learning standards if they teach in a public school, and teachers are evaluated on how they teach those state standards.
  • Teachers will guide students to reach particular targets. These should be achieved within a certain time frame, but it is hard to monitor and record.

On the other hand,

What Does a Tutor Do?

  • They work with small groups or, most commonly, with individuals. This allows for the lesson to cater exactly for the student’s needs.
  • It can also be adapted as the lessons progress depending on the understanding of the students.
  • Tutors follow the lead of their students. Lessons are designed around what the student needs to work on or what they what to achieve.
  • They often reinforce what has been taught in the classroom, allowing for content to really be absorbed by the student.
  • Tutors can tutor children from the child’s home, a public library, or a space that works best for the parent or guardian.

You Might Also Be Interested In: How to Study Math: 35 Math Tips You Should Know

13 Benefits of Working with a Tutor

Tutor teaching

There really aren’t too many downsides to tutoring or having the help of someone. It is equally beneficial for struggling students right through to high achievers. When a student has a tutor, it does not mean that they are struggling to keep up with their peers academically. A tutor is someone that will meet a child where they are and challenge them to grow from there. Here are some of the top reasons why tutoring is helpful and what role a tutor can play:

1. Improves academic performance

This one is obvious, but it is important to remember that these improvements may bring a student up from the bottom of the class, or push a middle student to the top. Students that excel in class could also benefit from a tutor. Teachers are encouraged to stick to the state standards in the classroom, which means it can be a challenge to cater to students that learn above their grade level. A tutor is a great way to challenge students just enough to sharpen their skills without overwhelming them with work that’s too difficult or boring them with work that’s too easy.

2. Boosts self-esteem

When a student learns and understands the content being taught to them they gain confidence. This confidence is valuable not just in the classroom and around test time, but will also filter into other aspects of their lives.

3. Caters for individual needs

The one-on-one sessions are designed to meet the specific needs for that individual student. Unlike a classroom scenario, a tutor can continue to work with the student until they fully understand the content. 

4. Offers a different perspective

In subjects such as math, there are often various ways to reach the same answer. A teacher doesn’t always have the time to explain concepts differently to each student therefore many children miss out. A tutor has the time to explain and re-explain a question and technique until it makes sense to the student. This is an extremely valuable aspecting of tutoring. People learn in many different ways in many different learning styles. A tutor can help a child learn in a way that is comfortable to them, but also show the child different ways to approach problem solving and thinking. 

5. Encourages communication

When working with a tutor, students must learn to communicate their needs and ask questions. As stated earlier, this can be easier to do in a smaller setting with less eyes on the student. This helps them build a different type of relationship than those with their parents, friends, and teachers.

6. Teaches problem-solving skills

Tutors can ask students questions and guide their thinking in a way that encourages problem-solving. When students are guided they can learn to think for themselves in a way that provides them with skills they will use later in life. Students with problem solving skills are okay with completing tasks with a trial-and-error mentality. Students who are able to problem solve are less likely to get discouraged in certain tasks. They will usually not give up on a task right away if they don’t get it right the first time.

7. Helps understand standardized tests

Even the smartest students can struggle with these unique tests. A tutor can provide clarity on the format of standardized tests and the type of questions asked, as well as providing feedback on practice questions. Tutors can also give ways to cope with test anxiety that are specific to each student they tutor.

8. Detailed and specific feedback

Due to the one-on-one nature of tutoring sessions, students will receive feedback that is specific to them and their goals. Quite often this feedback is immediate, helping students to continue to improve at a faster rate than they would in the classroom.

9. Consolidates learning

If a tutoring session complements what is taught in the classroom, students will be able to store the information for longer and will have a greater chance of regurgitating the information when it is needed, such as during a test.

10. A tutor is neither a teacher or a parent

Children will respond differently when working with a tutor. Teachers are highly qualified but are catering to the needs of the group. Parents, while having a child’s best interests at heart, do not have the training to teach the content effectively. Children can also be stubborn creatures and enlisting the help of mom or dad is often not the done thing. A tutor sits somewhere in the middle of teacher and parent and will provide surprisingly positive results.

11. Less embarrassment

Quite often students are hesitant to ask questions in class out of fear of sounding stupid. This severely hinders their learning as they may never fully understand the content and concepts being taught. Some children may be shy or nervous and want to avoid speaking out in front of large groups. Because of this, some children may be more likely to share a concept they don’t understand with a tutor in a small group or one-on-one setting. Working alone with a tutor eliminates this fear and students can ask any type of question at any point during the session.

12. It can take place in a different learning environment

You can find a tutor online to cater to your needs and the sessions can also take place online. Learning from the comfort of home can often support students as it is an environment they are familiar with. Using screens and technology often engages younger learners more than traditional teaching methods.

13. Eliminates learning loss over holiday periods

By continually using a tutor throughout the year, you eliminate any ‘periods of no learning’. Students can continue to learn, or use the time to consolidate learning of practice test-style questions.

When you consider all of these benefits that come with having a tutor, you may wonder what to expect from hiring a tutor. There are a few items to consider when a parent or guardian decides to find a tutor, including where to find one and how much to expect to pay for one.

How to Find a Tutor

Sometimes a child’s teacher can be a great resource when it comes to trying to find a tutor. A child’s teacher will understand the learning style and academic needs of each of their students. This makes them a great contact for recommending a tutor that will help their students most effectively. Teachers may have a list of tutors on hand, they may know retired teachers that tutor, or they could work with teachers who tutor after school hours to earn extra money. You can also perform an online search for tutors in your area.

There are likely tutoring services that you can find in your area with a physical location. These establishments will hire well-qualified tutors to tutor children in any grade level. Some of these establishments also tutor students for SAT and ACT prep. There are also sites online that will lead you to contact information for private tutors. These are just several ways for a parent or guardian to find a tutor. No matter how you find a tutor, you should expect to pay tutors for their services.

What is the Average Hourly Rate for a Tutor?

The average hourly rate for a tutor will vary based on your location, but you should be able to easily find the average hourly rate for your area online. The average hourly rate for tutors also depends on how you find a tutor.

If a parent or guardian registers their child with a tutoring business or program, they may have to pay a larger fee upfront rather than hourly. Some of these establishments would rather parents and guardians pay per month or semester, but these businesses could also charge per hour depending on your needs. Private tutors may choose to set their hourly wage based on their teaching or tutoring experience.

You can certainly ask to see a resume or references before you agree to pay any specific hourly wage. If the private tutor you’re interested in hiring has a master’s degree or doctorate, it makes sense for their compensation to be significantly higher than other private tutors. Hourly rates may be less for tutors who tutor a group of children at one time instead of one-on-one. The amount that a parent or guardian will pay for a tutor depends on the type of tutor that’s hired.

Types of Tutors

College Prep Tutors

Some tutors are specifically experienced and trained to help students with items related to college. These tutors can help students with their applications and essays for college. College prep tutors can also help explain concepts about applying to colleges that aren’t very clear. These types of tutors may also be able to help students with other aspects of applying for college, like financial aid or scholarships. If a student is in high school and needs help with a specific subject, there are tutors for this as well.

Subject Specific Tutors

Subject-specific tutors most often benefit older students but can work with younger children as well. Subject-specific tutors will have experience tutoring in a subject and could also have an advanced degree in the subject they tutor in. For example, if a student struggles with high school math, it would be beneficial to hire a subject-specific tutor with a master’s degree or doctorate in math. If a high school student struggles with writing, it would be helpful to hire a tutor with an English degree. Some parents may need tutors for children that are younger than high school-aged children. These children may not need college prep or perhaps subject-specific tutoring but instead would benefit from general tutoring.

Homework Tutors

Parents may seek out a homework tutor if their child struggles to focus on specific tasks after school hours. A homework tutor can help students in any subject and serve as an encouraging figure and study partner. Homework tutors can also help students prepare for upcoming tests or study items that can sometimes take their place of nightly homework. Sometimes schools can offer after-school programs in which students can get help with their homework.

General Tutors

While some younger children could benefit from subject-specific tutoring if they need support in reading, writing, or another subject, most younger children can benefit from general tutors. General tutors can help a child with skills that are taught at their specific grade level. Some teachers share a monthly newsletter with parents that shares the skills that students are working on in a given month.

A general tutor could use this as a guide to work with a child and give children extra practice in skills and techniques that the teacher is teaching in a specific time frame. This will help students stay on top of their learning and avoid a backslide in learning. If a child is not in school yet, they could benefit from a pre-k tutor.

Pre-K Tutors

Pre-K tutors can be very helpful for children who haven’t been in a school setting before. Pre-K tutors can help students with academic tasks, and they can help with other tasks as well. A pre-k tutor may help students with things like identifying letters, social skills, or even skills like opening lunchbox items or zipping up their jackets. Pre-K tutors can help acquaint young students with tasks that they will encounter in pre-k, even if they haven’t been in school before. This can be beneficial for children who didn’t go to daycare. But sometimes people seek out tutors for reasons unrelated to academics and school.

Language Tutors

Sometimes a child’s needs can fall outside of an academic need and in line with other aspects of life. If a child comes from a two-language home or if parents are interested in their child learning another language, a language tutor can be a great asset. Language tutors can meet students where they are when learning a new language. Students can speak the language at a beginner level, or on a more intermediate level, and tutors will meet them at their level. A language tutor can help a student focus on specific aspects of language like conversational language, specific vocabulary, or other items.  These types of tutors are just a few of the many kinds of tutors that can help children succeed academically and in many other ways.

Now that you know what is a tutor and what does a tutor do, you can decide what you or your child needs to excel this year! Finding the right help to get the results that you want is critical to your success. Good luck and please let us know how we can help.

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