How to Find a Tutor Online
Make your tutor search quick and painless with 4 simple steps.
Children and teens of all ages and education levels benefit from academic tutoring, especially with the growing competitiveness to get into private middle schools, high schools and colleges. Online tutoring is often the most convenient and cheapest option, but private tutors are sometimes a better fit.
Finding the right tutors can feel like finding a needle-in-a-haystack, so break the process up into a few manageable chunks and you'll get your kid on the right track in no time.
Step 1: Decide How a Tutor Can Help
First, determine what your child needs help with by simply talking to her. Take her out for ice cream and sit down for an honest chat.
Think of creative ways to get your child to open up. Ask her what her favorite subject is, and what her least favorite is. If she could change three things about school, what would they be? Listen for any underlying concerns or topics she clams up about -- there may be red flags there.
Next, approach your child's teachers to get their opinion. Tell them you are looking for tutors for your child and ask them about the areas in which your child could improve.
Then, make a comprehensive list of the different school subjects or areas your child needs help in. Write down any topics that came up during your talk with your child and any suggestions his teachers have. Look through old report cards and hone in on weaker grades or written comments from teachers. Does it look like she could benefit the most from having a math tutor?
Use this list as a starting point to find a tutor who can meet all -- or most -- of these needs.
Step 2: Begin the Search
When looking for a tutor, your child's teachers or personal references are a great resource, but they may not always suffice. Natasha Feier, a senior math and science tutor at the Groza Learning Center in Pacific Palisades, California, believes that looking online is a good starting point for finding the perfect tutor.
"Personal referrals are not always possible and therefore it is important to know how to navigate through various websites in order to select a high quality tutor," she says. "Using a search engine, such as Google, is a great way to start."
While many private tutors and online tutoring services post ads on sites like Care.com, additional reliable forums for locating a private tutor are the online classifieds of local college newspapers, like the Daily Bruin at UCLA. Local colleges and universities are filled with undergraduate and graduate students who offer tutoring in a variety of subjects and grade levels.
You can also research local tutoring agencies for comparative services through search engines, or sites that offer reviews, like Yelp.com. Make sure you search for the subject you need such as "Spanish," the level "fourth grade" and your location. Also, "best of" lists are great places to start. Try, "best middle school math tutors in New York."
Step 3: Sort Through Your Options
Many reliable and qualified tutors work for agencies, so check to see if your top choices have the proper education credentials and are part of a tutor network. There are well-known national services, such as Kaplan, Sylvan Learning and the Princeton Review, but also many small, local ones that are very good. The best tutor for you is one that fits your child's and your family's needs.
Research all types to see what needs they fulfill and check online reviews, Care.com, college message boards and local parents and teachers. Make sure to call the tutor to discuss skill levels, training and what your child needs. It's vital to meet the tutor in person and oversee one of the tutoring sessions.
Another thing to keep in mind is whether you want on-site or at home tutoring. Shirley Duong, a developmental psychology expert and teacher in San Francisco, California, recognizes that home tutoring can be a good fit, but that it comes with a larger price tag.
"Home tutors are often more expensive because they commute to your home, and have advanced degrees in the subject they tutor," Duong says. "Whether a tutor works for a national program or is a private tutor, what makes a difference is their content knowledge and training. National tutoring programs exist. However, these programs should be research-based ... and should provide evidence that their program model is effective."
This evidence is necessary, whether it's done via numbered results or reviews from other parents. Other centers also offer off-site and on-site tutoring, and you should review which of those could work best for your child, based on his or her needs. Discuss your child's progress, strengths and weaknesses with potential tutors to determine what they believe is the best approach.
Step 4: Check Qualifications and References
You may find a tutor that's affordable and looks good over the Internet, but you need to make sure they are qualified for your child's needs. It's crucial to make sure those needs match up with the tutor's skills. Check if the tutor is approved by a school or has good reviews from its agency or area forums.
Also, always confirm the tutor's references. No matter what your source is for gathering names of potential tutors, always check with a family who has used that person recently. If you enlist an outside agency to help find a tutor, they may have already put that person through a screening process, which includes a background check.
Pasha Bahsoun is a freelance writer in Los Angeles. His work can be found here.