Choosing a tutor: Know the options for your child

Perhaps you’ve noticed that your child’s grades are slipping in a certain subject and he or she needs an academic boost, or maybe a big test is on the horizon and some study help is in order. Whatever the issue, hiring a tutor can be a very beneficial option for your child. With so many tutoring options to choose from, you’re probably asking yourself, “How do I find the right one?” 

There are several different types of tutors to consider before making a final decision. We’ve compiled a list of the most common types of tutors so that you can easily select which type of tutor best suits your child’s academic needs.

Private tutors

Individuals who provide private tutoring are typically certified school teachers, high school or college students and other highly trained education professionals. A private tutor typically is an expert in a specific subject area such as math or English. Private tutors work with a variety of students, including those with special needs, students who are highly motivated and seek to gain an advanced knowledge of a specific subject or those who need some extra help in a certain academic area. One-on-one tutoring sessions can be scheduled at your convenience in your home or at a mutually agreed upon location.

This tutoring option works best if you are willing to:

  • Interview and screen the tutor to learn about their educational and professional experience. This ensures you are getting a skilled academic expert to help your child with a specific subject(s).
  • Ask for their references.
  • Listen in during during the first couple sessions to assess whether the tutor’s teaching style is a good fit for your child. 
  • Provide a quiet place in your home for the private tutoring sessions, or bring your child to another location, such as the tutor's home or a local library.
  • Keep your child's teacher informed about your child's progress in tutoring, and put the tutor in touch with the teacher when necessary.

Tutoring centers

Sylvan Learning, Kumon and Kaplan, Inc. are some of the largest, most recognizable national companies that offer tutoring. Learning centers generally screen each tutor and perform background checks before hiring the instructors. Sessions are held at the learning center instead of in the home. Tutoring centers help students with test prep for an upcoming exam and have specific programs, such as math and reading, to help increase your child’s school skill set. Many of the centers follow a set curriculum and teach in a classroom setting.

This tutoring option works best if:

  • Your child follows the curriculum, methods and philosophy set by the learning center.
  • You can arrange for your child's transportation to and from the center.
  • You keep your child's teacher informed about your child's participation at the learning center, and put the learning center staff in touch with the teacher when necessary.
  • You are certain that your child will benefit from an additional classroom-like experience and curriculum as opposed to a one-on-one setting.

Online tutoring

Online tutoring is a popular option for many students, though the virtual method not for everyone. Sites like TutorMe, The Princeton Review and Skooli provide a virtual learning environment where students can find and work with a tutors who provide one-on-one feedback, homework help or expertise in a certain subject area. Online tutoring offers more flexibility than a private tutor or learning center, and the majority of the learning is usually conducted through web chats, teleconferences and other digital learning methods that streamline communication between instructor and student.

Before using a website that is not affiliated with your child's school or teacher, parents need to check it out to be sure it's safe and meets the learning needs for your child. This option works best if:

  • You monitor your child’s learning in a digital environment, including setting aside time after each session to speak with the tutor about your child’s performance.
  • Your child is self-starter who is comfortable working and learning in a virtual educational space to enhance their own academic development.
  • Your child's teacher has a class website or a designated link to a homework or learning site to help with content for a particular class
Tips and stories from parents and caregivers who’ve been there.

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