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What kind of interview questions should I ask a prospective tutor?

Sara in Chicago, IL
June 24, 2018

I'm looking for advice on hiring a tutor to help boost my kindergartner's reading skills. I know I want them to be fun, engaging and have early childhood education experience, but what kind of situational questions should I ask? What unspoken qualities should I look for? 

Answers

It is really important to identify whether a tutor has genuine skills in tutoring. Many 'tutors' do not have any formal training when it comes to teaching children. In the case of getting a tutor for reading, many people assume just having someone to help a child read will be beneficial. This is not necessarily the case. There are many different aspects to being a good reader, including reading comprehension, pronouncing new words, understanding grammar and following punctuation rules. I have tutored many children who, in the past, had reading tutors for years and yet these children still have extreme difficulties decoding texts. My experience is that those tutors who have not been involved in formal training programs to teach children miss the importance of helping the child understand different aspects of written English and so their students do not develop the full set of skills they need to be good readers. A tutor can be fun and engaging but not actually teach the student anything, so I would recommend looking more closely at the 'hard' skills of the tutor. Ask them what experience they have with tutoring reading, inquire as to whether they have an understanding of English grammar, punctuation, tense etc. The reality is that a tutor who is good at tutoring will already be fun and engaging so I would suggest asking the tutor how many students they have tutored in the past, how long do they tutor students for and what their method is for teaching. The answer to these questions should give some idea as to the extent to which the tutor puts effort into the tutorials and will differentiate those tutors who are working for a bit of cash on the side from the tutors who are full-time tutors. Another important question would be to ask whether the tutor provides their own resources and worksheets.

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One of the most important qualities of a tutor are compassion and patience. In order to teach, a tutor must first understand the perspective of the child. Some questions that could help you get some insight on the qualities of the tutor you are interviewing could include: How long have you been an educator? Have you had special education experience? How do you ensure that each child improves their understanding and retention? What strategies do you use when a child is unfocused? Do you incorporate play or games into your tutoring sessions?

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Jishan in Edison, NJ
Nov. 14, 2018

How do you know if the tutee is understanding/grasping the concept that is been taught? How would make a child, not interested in a topic, to like the topic?

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Ramsa in Richmond, TX
June 27, 2018

Some great questions in my opinion would be about how they learned as a kid and asking if they integrate that into their tutoring regime. It can be great to gain insight into the teaching styles. Another great question would be hobbies or interests of the tutor as it can showcase their fun side and sometimes they will integrate that into their tutoring.

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A good tutor should be able to work with your child and identify deficiencies. The tutor should know strategies to overcome these challenges. I am a PB County teacher. I have taught grades K-5. I have years of experience teaching kids to effectively read for comprehension. I specialize in test taking strategies and every day reading strategies that will strengthen your child's reading skills.

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Maria in Linden, NJ
June 18, 2018

Ask them about their creative/ art related skills. Many times if they can be creative through art, they can apply those skills with their teaching abilities. Also, you can give them a situational question, for example: "My kid would only read if he is engaged or having fun, also it is difficult to grab his attention... how would you grab his attention and make sure he is engaging?" Example 2: Ask them how they keep they like to keep their students engage and what materials they like to use.

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It's helpful to ask questions about how they would go about tutoring your kindergartener. For example: "What types of reading activities would you do?" "How can you make sure my child stays engaged with the learning?" "What have you done in the past to enhance a child's learning experience?" In terms of unspoken qualities, look for someone that overall seems genuine. I'd suggest meeting the tutor in a place where they have to interact with other people, such as a coffee shop. Watch for how they talk to the barista, whether or not the smile to strangers, and if their body language is open or closed. If they stand with their arms crossed and seem impatient, they may not be the best tutor for a kindergartner. Also, possibly bring your child with you. See how the tutor interacts with your kid, and see how they get along. That, in my opinion, is the best indicator of whether or not they will be a good tutor.

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Make sure that they are good with children. Make sure they have patience because they are dealing with children.

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Ask your tutor the way she does her tutoring on a fun way ...

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A tricky part of tutoring elementary level students is being able to teach at their level. The best way to judge this skill in a candidate is to ask them to teach difficult concepts to you as if you were a child. It feels a little silly, but it's really the only way you can tell how well they communicate with children. You should also ask them how they would react in situations where the child is just having a bad day and doesn't want to sit through a lesson. It's important that they can handle child behavior as well as education.

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Saranda in Mahopac, NY
April 20, 2018

Get to know the tutor. You want to get a sense of the tutor's background and experience level. How long has she/he been tutoring? Does she/he just tutor, or is there other work she/he does, and what is it? What got her/him into tutoring? Why does she/he enjoy tutoring?

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While reading is a school aged student skill, Kindergartners should master beginning reading skills and phoneme recognition. It is important that kindergartners see pattern in words. So a tutor should use phoneme manipulation to assist a beginning reader. Students should be able to use these small short words to help them build a larger reading vocabulary.

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Hello! I have tutored all ages even very young ones. I learned a lot of skills and techniques through the years on what is the best plan for the individual student. I would ask if they have any types of special techniques they use for young children like certain games or engaging activities which is what I have found works best. They need to be willing to try different techniques and be familiar with the different learning processes to help comprehension since every child learns difference. Hope this helps!

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Sophia in Miami, FL
March 17, 2018

I think you should look for patience and compassion. You don't want a tutor blowing up in a child's face out of frustration.

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Rachel in Vancouver, WA
March 11, 2018

I would ask a prospective educator what they feel is an appropriate length for a focused, challenging lesson and to give a few examples of reading-practice games they use. A good teacher should be able to explain a fun way to practice sight words and phonics. You know your child best and how they behave when they feel challenged. Ask the teacher how they would address that situation. A capable teacher would always remain positive and willing to temporarily put a lesson aside if their mind isn't ready for the task or break it into smaller, manageable pieces.

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The most important thing to look for when interviewing someone to tutor your child is the connectivity between the child and the tutor. You could hire someone with a Ph.D. but if they do not have some kind of bond with your child and if the two of them do not connect, then it'll be pointless. Children learn best when they have love and respect for the person teaching them. What I suggest you look for when interviewing is their personality and the kind of mannerisms they use. Do they look you in the eye when they speak? Do you they smile? Are they polite? Do they display genuine affection and concern when engaging with your child? Also, look for someone who has a genuine interest in what your child needs help with. For example, an avid reader and/or writer would be perfect for this position. Their experience with reading and fondness for it will aid them while teaching your child and they will know best how to work around any difficulties faced.

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One situational question to ask is " What would you do or what have you done when a child has a meltdown?

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Are they experienced in working with students in the area of vocabulary, reading comprehension, and finding the main idea of a reading passage? Also, are they knowledgeable in helping students with their handwriting skills?

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Ask them what kinds of methods they use. They should be comfortable explaining the details of their techniques instead of saying something vague. For an example read my article on Words per Min at http://www.math18.com/small-cl...

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You should ask your potential tutor about how they give praise. I find that children do well with positive reinforcement, and it's important that your potential tutor does as well! As for a situational question, you can say that your kindergarten has finally achieved a skill they've been working on- see how the tutor would respond.

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In what type of environments you have previously conducted your tutoring sessions?, Do you ever had a tutee who got intimidated by you? How do you present information to your tutees?

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You should ask them how they learned their skills when they were children and how they will apply that in their lessons with your children. Also how they organize their time to make time to do homework and make it a daily activity

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User in Houston, TX
Feb. 12, 2018

I would want to know: - Methods they use for teaching reading (If I'm not familiar with what they use, I will look up reviews) - Examples of success with students - Samples of their writing to know they're proficient They should: - Demonstrate patience and sincere interest in the learning of the student - Base lessons on what is correct for the student, not trying to show off what they know or teaching something that's too easy or too hard

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I am a Spanish/English tutor. I have over 15 years experience working with elementary to high school students. I also work with individual's looking to enhance their Spanish skills.

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You can bring up examples of your child's habits. For example, if your child is prone to throwing a temper tantrum, you can ask how the tutor will handle it. Or, if your child does not want to learn, how can the tutor make it fun? I hope this helps!

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User in Elmhurst, NY
Feb. 12, 2018

How do you manage when the children are out of control?

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Douglas in Flint, MI
Feb. 10, 2018

Make sure their skills fit the job.

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Do you understand the school curriculum of a child who is in Kindergarten level? You may ask. What activities will you engage for the child while tutoring. Will you draw, show an learning app? What will entertain my child to read. Will there be incentives? As a tutor are you understanding how and do you have patience for little learners? You need to see if he or she takes his or her time with your child. It's a process because you child is still learning, processing, and developing. I am experienced teacher and I see it daily. Children little one need time lots of time to process all materials and pictures and visual. Will his books or her books show visuals. Try it and tell me what happen? Awesome question by the way. I am a NJ School reading specialist teacher.

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In my opinion I think the tutor needs to be very approachable and have a fun personality. This is a 5 year old we are talking about. They need to understand that learning can be fun. Also a child that age may already be a little apprehensive about meeting and being with someone they don't know. The more you can develop a strong relationship with the child and meet them on their level the more they will learn! :) Angela Mann

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Observe how they interact with your student. Is your student at ease?

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Frances in Bronx, NY
July 13, 2018

Can your child read, a little bit? Can your child write? Does he/she need breaks in between?

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You can look up behavioral interview techniques online. Online sources should tell you the verbal and nonverbal clues you are looking for regarding each question.

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