Finding A Tutor For Your Child

By Nancy Da Silva

Student test scores in schools are down both on national and international levels. Blame it on over worked teachers, under staffed schools and over populated classrooms or unmotivated students, no one can deny the problem is reaching epidemic proportions.

You want your child to get the very best education so that they can have the best platform from which to go out in the world and be successful. For some children, the overworked school system isn’t enough to give them the best education. They’re still struggling. You as a parent try to do your best to help your child but between work and maybe not understanding the homework yourself because of a language or educational barrier, you’re unable to offer the special extra help your child might need.

One of the most popular options to help students do better in school is to get them extra help via a tutor. If you decide your child would benefit from having a tutor, you then need to take some time to figure out the kind of tutor you can afford against the type of help your child needs.

Not all tutors are created equal. You need to make sure that you find someone who is either well versed in all subjects or well versed in the specific subject your child may need the most help in. You wouldn’t want to get a tutor who specializes in English to help tutor your child who’s having trouble in Math.

Decide if you want a private tutor for your child or if you can afford the class environment learning center, specifically designed to deal with children who are having difficulties in the regular school curriculum, like Sylvan Learning Centers for example.

If your child’s difficulty in school is limited to one subject, you’ll probably find a private tutor a more economic option.

If however, you know that your child’s difficulty is in many different subjects, you could do the extra leg work to find a tutor who has a wide educational spectrum, or it may be worth the extra monetary investment if you can manage it, to go with the commercial learning centers. These will usually run up to eighty dollars and hour on average.

The most important criteria you need in a tutor, above their areas of expertise is how they get along with your child. You want someone, first and foremost, who not only likes working with children of course, but who clicks well with your child specifically. You would hope that your child will enjoy spending time with this person and that this person will treat your child with patience, kindness and respect. You don’t want a tutor who will treat your child simply as a means to a pay check.

 So once you decide the kind of tutor your child needs, and have taken into account what you can invest financially, where do you find one?

First, let’s look for an independent tutor. The most obvious option would be to find one among your close circle, such as in family or friends. You want to make sure that if you pick a family member or friend’s child that you know that they excel in the subject your child needs help with. Don’t sacrifice academic excellence for the sake of pinching pennies.

Teacher’s Aide’s or retired teachers are often willing to tutor children to earn extra money or supplement the income they’ve lost. Check the bulletin boards at your child’s school for advertisements. You can even ask your child’s teacher if they’d be willing to recommend someone. This way you know that whoever you pick will be experienced in the practice of teaching and how to structure their lessons to best help your child.

College students often offer tutoring services as affordable prices so check out the campus bulleting boards. They sometimes advertise in newspapers as well.

Some tutors offer group sessions which can help bring costs down and your child doesn’t lose the social benefits of learning with other kids his own age. 

If you decide to go the commercial learning center route, weigh their class curriculum against your child’s needs. You want to find a center that is the right fit for the way your child can best learn. The center’s will often run tests to see where your child will best fit in their curriculum and which of their instructors they know can best help your child achieve his fullest potential. Get references from their clients to get their opinions on how satisfied they were with the center.

While it would be unrealistic to expect instant positive results, no matter which option you chose, you should see an improvement in your child’s grades over time and feel free to ask your child’s instructor for regular progress reports. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about their background, lesson plans for your child and problem areas that they may see that you may not be able to. This is a team effort between you, your child and the tutor or instructor.

You can sit in on the first few sessions to see how your child and his tutor are working together, to make sure they are a good fit. Ask your child often how they are feeling about being tutored and if they enjoy their time.

Some children may feel embarrassed by the fact that they need extra help, especially if they have a sibling who does well in school. Be especially attuned to these feelings of low self esteem and do your best to help your child feel good about himself. Let him know that everyone needs help from time to time and there is no shame in asking for that help.

It would be a bigger shame if he fell behind. Tell him that he is much too special to you for you to not give him the help he needs.

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