Tips for Finding and Hiring a Good Tutor

Let’s plays a game called “Which Tutor is The Right One For You.” The rules are simple: I will list three profiles for tutors, and you tell me which one you would hire. You are looking for a geometry tutor for your son who is in tenth grade, and chronically shy. He goes to the local public school. Your son also had a mediocre algebra teacher last year, so he is missing much of the foundational curriculum and has limited free time because he plays football at school.

Tutor Option #1: You send him to a group tutoring after school program. He won’t get the individual attention that he probably needs, but tutors are available and walking around and will answer any questions your son might have, as long as he raises his hand to ask for help. They will also give out supplementary handouts to check for comprehension, and treats for good grades. The hours are not flexible and conflict with the times your son has football practice.

Tutor Option #2: He goes to his school teacher. He’s been to see her during her office hours a couple times, but it hasn’t helped. Maybe going during lunch as well will increase his understanding. She does not seem very understanding or communicative, and is known among the faculty as one of the less forgiving individuals on staff. Your son would get to stay in football.

Tutor Option #3: You could hire a personal tutor who you’ve connected with through a family friend. She’s a math major in college who is trying to make extra spending money, so she isn’t charging exorbitant prices. Her schedule is pretty free most weekends, so your son's schedule after school would not be affected. She is not professionally trained, but you’ve heard of her good reputation from several other families in the neighborhood. Some have even said that she raised their child’s scores up by an average of ten to fifteen points on exams.

SO? Which one do you choose? …okay… is this even a question? Option three is really the only option suitable for your son. He’s significantly behind, which means individual attention is probably the right option for him. Plus, this tutor has gotten some pretty good reviews and obviously knows the material. But what if the options aren’t so clear cut? I mean, in the real world, there are more than three options, and more than one scenario when it comes to needing a tutor. So how do you know which tutor is right for you? And how do you even go about finding a tutor who you will be happy with?

Well the first step is to know that you need a tutor. You need to know that online lessons will not be sufficient, and either group tutoring or individual tutoring is what you want. This type of learning allows for the student(s) to ask questions and regulate the pace at which they are learning. Then you need to set your individual priorities. The first two are the obvious top priorities, your tutor needs to be safe and knowledgeable. If you are meeting them for the first time, make sure you are in a public area and tell someone where you are going to be. If the tutoring is for a minor, you’ll want to be able to see your child until you are sure they are safe. The time interval for this will depend on where you are, and the vibe you get from the tutor. You can use and other sites as a resource to find tutors in your area for subject(s) you need help with.

It can be harder to tell if your tutor is charging an appropriate amount for their skills. Use your gut and what they show you to make a determination. Make sure you or your child is actually trusting, learning, and/or enjoying the time with the tutor. Asking the tutor for his/her resume and calling references is also a good idea, so you have a general idea of their teaching style, past results, and personality before you meet. Ultimately, deciding what tutor is right for you can be difficult, but the learning and improved skills will be both fulfilling and may provide a lifelong reward or skill.

Photo Credit: US Department of Education

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