Hiring a Tutor for Your Child
By Dr. Kenneth Shore
Finding a tutor requires doing some homework of your own. Some school districts provide tutoring programs while others offer peer tutoring programs in which academically talented students help students having difficulty. In addition, local colleges may have educational clinics that offer testing and remediation to students with academic deficiencies. You might also consider sending your child to a private tutoring center. These centers typically offer individualized instruction in academic subjects and study skills. They usually provide diagnostic testing, small-group instruction, material rewards to enhance student motivation, and a range of learning materials and approaches.
If you are looking for a private tutor, teachers or parents are good referral sources. Your school district may also provide a list of certified teachers interested in tutoring. In hiring a tutor, go about it in the same way you would hire any employee—interview her and obtain references. Here are some questions to ask as you go through this process:
- Is she a certified teacher? It is of course preferable that she is certified in the area in which your child is struggling.
- What is her teaching experience? Has she taught the subject you are requesting help with? For how long? Has she worked with children in your child’s grade?
- Where will the tutoring take place? Will it be at the tutor’s home or at your home?
- What is her approach to tutoring? Does she use a separate curriculum and new materials or will she work on the same curriculum and with the same materials that your child is using in school? Will she help him with homework? With elementary students, tutoring is often more effective when the tutor works on specific academic deficiencies; with secondary students, it is usually more helpful to focus on the specific assignments your child receives.
- Is your child likely to respond well to her? The better the rapport between the tutor and your child, the more effective the tutoring is likely to be. To assess this, you might have your child meet the tutor during the interview. • Will the tutor contact your child’s teacher? Ideally, the tutor should be willing to talk periodically with the teacher to ensure they are working in concert.
- What is the cost of the tutoring? One-on-one tutoring can be expensive. Check whether there are any extra charges for testing or materials beyond the per-hour fee. If finances are a concern, ask the tutor if she offers small-group tutoring to lessen the cost. Also consider hiring a capable high school student.