Tutor Tips

Should I hire a tutor?

“I do not want a tutor!” I screamed at my mom. In high school, my mom urged me to get a tutor for the SATs. I fought her on it every step of the way. There was no way I was going to get a tutor. What if my tutor thinks I’m dumb? If my friends found out that I needed a tutor, would they think less of me?

I didn’t know what to expect with a tutor, so I talked to a few of my close confidants whom I found out had tutors. My friends explained that their tutors never made them feel inadequate and after being tutored, they felt more confident going into their tests. None of them had anything bad to say about the experience. So, I broke down and asked my mom to help me find the perfect tutor.

The person I chose as my tutor was a kind older lady. She had tutored several other kids in my neighborhood, so I knew of her. The first day, before she came to my house, I was a nervous wreck. I wasn’t sure how to act or what to say. As soon as we began reviewing the material, my nerves disappeared. She had a calm and uplifting demeanor, which quickly put me at ease. I soon found myself looking forward to our weekly sessions. As for my SATs, I was definitely satisfied with my score!

Don't be surprised by your child's next report card! Learn here how to talk to them about their grades.

Too many choices?

According to the National Tutoring Association there are currently more than two million tutors available. All of the different types of tutors to choose from make the process seem daunting. No need to fear, once you start researching you will find that a lot of tutors will help facilitate the process and make it painless!

Is it time to get help?

It can be difficult for parents to realize when their child needs more attention than the teacher can give them during a regular school day. If you’re not sure whether you should hire a tutor, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is she struggling to get homework done on time?
  • Has she lost motivation when it comes to school work?
  • Does she act out during homework time?
  • Does she complain about feeling sick when it's time to go to school?
  • Are her grades slipping?
  • Do her report cards have comments regarding a lack of full-potential work?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may want to consider a tutor.

Points to consider

“If your child is struggling with a specific subject in school or doesn’t seem to be enjoying learning, it is a good idea for you to look into alternative options to help your child,” says Jennifer Hollingshead, director of education at Middletown’s Sylvan Learning Center. “Talk to the teacher first and find out everything that is happening at school, and then discuss options that the school can provide.”

Sylvan recommends the following key points for you to take into consideration before hiring a tutor:

·         Experience- Does this tutor have adequate experience in tutoring services?

·         Certification- Does this tutor have the correct training and skill set?

·         Customization- Will this tutor be able to alter lessons specific to your child's needs?

·         Communication- Will the tutor’s communication style work for your child?

·         Convenience- Is the tutor flexible in scheduling?

During the initial interview with the tutor, have your child present while the tutoring services and expectations are discussed. This way, once the tutor leaves, you and your child can discuss whether or not the tutor is a good fit.

Is the tutor approachable?

Children sometimes develop a fear of the subject that is causing difficulty. In looking for the right tutor, you want to make sure the tutor has a calm demeanor. It’s important that your child feels a renewed interest in the subject! “When a student doesn’t feel confident that he can do well, he undoubtedly begins to fear that subject,” says Hollingshead.

What can you do?

Depending on the age, you can proactively help your child get through homework time, even when he is not feeling up to it. “With younger students, it is important to not make homework time a chore or drag,” says Hollingshead. “Make it a fun time with games, give them small breaks to decompress, and encourage your child to invite a study buddy over to do homework together as a team.”

Lindsey Klein is HV Parent’s fall editorial intern.

Professional tutoring is a great service, but you can learn how to tutor your kids by yourself! Click here for more info.