Tips on Choosing a Tutor for Your Child

Most parents dream of their children doing well in school, going on to college and having a successful career. But what are parents to do when they find out that their child is falling behind? The answer for many is to provide a tutor.

Hundreds of thousands of children having difficulty with a subject in school are currently being tutored in the United States for a variety of reasons:

  • Many students didn’t master basic skills which need to be re-taught to them;
  • Some have a learning disability which poses challenges to the mastery of information and slows down progress in school;
  • Others have weak organizational skills which result in difficulty with keeping on schedule with studying and completing assignments;
  • Some students have medical, social, emotional, behavioral and/or family problems;
  • And still others simply desire to get ahead.

Whatever the reason, tutors can both reinforce subjects that are taught in school, as well as teach students how to work independently. Students often become more self-confident after working with a tutor.

Useful tips for parents when choosing a tutor:

  1. Explain to your child why you think a tutor is needed and what a tutor does. Talk about what you hope will be accomplished with a tutor.
  2. Ask your child’s teacher or other parents for recommendations. Consider interviewing several tutors with your child. (If your child is a part of the process, he/she will be more open to accepting help.)
  3. Check the tutor’s credentials. Ask about training, experience and references. It is important that the tutor is a certified teacher or has expertise in the subject being taught. Find out whether the person has experience working with students at your child’s grade level. If the tutor is working with a child with a learning disability, it is essential that he/she has been trained to use appropriate techniques that can address the student’s special needs.
  4. Set clear goals for the tutoring and request a description of the tutoring plan. Whenever possible, ask your child’s teacher to participate in the design of this plan so that it links to school work. Try to create a partnership between you, your child’s teacher and the tutor.
  5. If possible, schedule tutoring for the times of the day when your child is ready to learn. After-school hours are the most common time for tutoring but this is also when students are tired or distracted by other activities. Allow for much-needed breaks from the school routine.
  6. For students with a learning disability, consider scheduling more than one lesson a week. Students with learning disabilities often need practice and repetition to master skills. Also, remember that it takes time to see improvement, so don’t expect a quick fix.
  7. Observe your child working with the tutor.
    The session should include hands-on learning and be very interactive. The tutor should be guiding your child through direct teaching and guided practice.
  8. Request periodic reports from both the tutor and your child’s teacher. There should be noticeable academic improvement within a few months.

From the Coordinated Campaign for Learning Disabilities funded by the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation