How to find the best tutor

Choosing a tutor for your child is something that should take time and careful consideration. A good match between the tutor and the student will hasten the results. Choosing the best tutor takes good questioning.
If your child’s teacher suggested obtaining a tutor, make sure you first have a conference with her to find out the basis of her suggestion and keep good notes.

If a battery of tests is given make sure you keep the results handy.
First, you may ask the teacher or the tester for a tutor referral. Other sources of referrals would be friends who have children with similar needs, your physician, or the school counselor. I would not suggest using any tutor unless you have a referral from someone who you respect or someone who has actually used her services.

During your initial conversation you should ask several very important questions:

  • What are your qualifications to be a tutor?
  • What kind of tutoring experience do you have?
  • What kind of other teaching experience do you have?
  • What is your educational background? (general)
  • Then ask specifically about your particular need.

For example: Do you have the training and/or experience working with dyslexic students, or students with language delay, or disabilities in reading or math. Don’t forget to ask questions about the particular age level. Some tutors may be excellent for students of primary age but not for older students and vice versa.

  • What methods do you use?
  • How long are your sessions and how often?
  • How much progress can you expect and for how long?
  • How will you communicate progress with me?
  • Where do you tutor?
  • Do you mind giving me a referral to speak to?
  • And of course, What is your fee?
  • How do you wish to be paid, cash, check, weekly, monthly, etc.
  • Who pays for the materials needed by my child?
  • What kind of commitment to you expect initially?

At this point, if you are feeling positive, you may wish to ask about her schedule availability. If it works well with yours, you can ask to hold a particular time until you had a chance to think it over and possibly call a referral. If you are very confident you may wish to confirm the time immediately.

I suggest you request that the first session be an evaluation session. The tutor needs to do her own assessment of your child’s needs and design a plan. If the tutor does not suggest this, I would offer the suggestion.

For example: Could you please see my son for one assessment session and let me know what you think his needs are and whether you feel you can help him? By doing this, neither of you has made a long-term commitment and at the end of the first session, you can better decide.

A few things to watch out for:

Claims of cure or success after so many weeks.
Group sessions – they are not as effective as individual sessions and the cost is not that much less. Preprogrammed systems advertised commercially usually do not fit the individual needs of students.

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