It’s a familiar scenario for parents: your child is struggling with a school subject, or you decide they need additional enrichment. Given your own busy schedule, you find that an outside tutor is your best option.
Once the decision to hire a tutor is made, you have to actually find one. If you’ve never gone through the process before, it can quickly become both overwhelming and confusing. There are so many considerations: What qualifications should you look for? What makes a good tutor? Will my child and the tutor get along? What if I make the wrong choice?
While it can seem like a huge burden at the onset, there are specific factors you can look for to make this process easy and the transition into tutoring smooth.
Evaluate the experience of potential tutors
Your tutor doesn’t have to be a former teacher, but he or she does need a good amount of experience working with students of different ages and learning styles. This could come in a variety of forms: tutoring experience, teaching experience, or volunteer experience.
When you first meet with your tutor, make sure they can tell you how they have effectively worked with students with different learning styles. For example, if your child learns kinesthetically (by doing), sitting at a table and drilling flash cards will not be an effective teaching method. Similarly, if your child learns best by listening, walking around and writing will not be effective. Make sure your tutor is a good match for your child’s unique learning style.
It’s also important to make sure the tutor can not just convey facts but also help your child build their critical thinking skills and higher order thinking. This can include creative projects that synthesize learned information, answering higher level thinking skills that ask for evaluation and evidence, or by offering an opinion backed up with facts. Not only do these methods make material more interesting for students, they increase valuable critical thinking skills that will be vital to their future in schooling.
Look for a breadth of knowledge
Not only should a qualified tutor have tutoring experience, but they should also have a wide range of experience, both with age range and with subject matter.
It’s important to find a tutor that can teach more than one grade, preferably a range of at least 3 grades. This vertical perspective can help the tutor understand where your child may be experiencing learning gaps while also having an understanding of where the curriculum (and the tutoring program) will go in the future.
Even if your child is struggling in just one subject, it’s helpful to find a tutor proficient in teaching in more than one area (in particular, both reading and math). An integrated approach to tutoring that incorporates multiple subjects simultaneously will help your child approach critical thinking from an interdisciplinary view.
Additionally, any technique a tutor uses should be research-based and backed by data that shows its effectiveness. Don’t be afraid to ask your tutor about the research behind their methods! Continue reading “How to choose the right tutor for your child”