Getting our kids going with certain activities is typically pretty easy.
For instance, enrolling them in school doesn’t take much, as many will default to the school in closest proximity. Some might have to put in a little more effort if going the private school route, from research, to applications, and even the financial commitment, which altogether isn’t “easy” by any means, but the point is, there is a blueprint to follow.
Same with sports and many extracurricular activities—if your child wants to play baseball, it’s hard to miss the many different little league flyers and advertisements plastered around town. Not to mention that kids will probably have at least a couple of friends who will be playing as well, who can serve as resources.
But what about something that isn’t a formal requirement like school, and isn’t something most of your child’s friends are doing at the moment, like sports? Now things aren't as easy, but can easily become overwhelming.
Tutoring could be that thing for many parents, especially as we make our way towards a school year full of uncertainty in terms of how much different the student routine is, and how much (or how much less) they might be learning throughout. Parents could be looking to tutoring and after school enrichment activities more than ever.
So, for those of you who have made the decision to move forward with a tutor, the question becomes, how do you find one?
How to find a good tutor
Before stressing about the new challenge you're facing, I think it’s helpful for parents to remember that searching for a tutor doesn’t have to be all that different than the research involved with finding, say, something like a summer camp.
The parallel of course being that the goal is to find something fun and engaging that kids will enjoy and benefit from, but that is also an experience parents can feel confident in and comfortable with in terms of the safety and wellbeing of their child.
Here are some tips.
1. Understand the reasons why
This goes for both the parent and the student. You the parent need to have a tight grasp on why your child needs a tutor in the first place—do they simply need to firm up their after-school routine with structure, or do they need to dive deeper into a particular topic? Do you want to get them involved in a new topic altogether?
As you can see through answering the above, your goal is going to dictate where exactly you should be looking for a tutor.
And then for your child, they also need to be on board. Of course, an objection from them doesn’t mean they’ll get their way, but perhaps it can lead to further conversation about why you feel a tutor is necessary, and why they might think differently.
2. Think about your options
Meaning, you hear “tutoring” and you probably think of a 1-on-1 session between a child and tutor at home, school, or learning center. While that’s very much true, tutoring actually takes a number of different shapes and forms.
For instance, a tutor can be a child’s peer, or classmate who can assist in their learning and understanding. And, it could also be a small group, or one tutor to a few kids rather than 1-on-1.
And then, of course given today’s circumstances, there are online tutors, who, as you could have guessed, will instruct from wherever in the world to your child, who themselves could be learning from the comfort of their own bedroom.
Last, you can have a general education tutor, or one who specializes in a particular topic, like math, science, or even a java tutor; or, someone who has the primary goal of boosting your child's standardized test scores.
3. Start with your network
Once everyone is clear and on the same page regarding the need for a tutor, and what you’re trying to accomplish with the help of one, your next move could be consulting your network, and seeing if any friends or family have experience with a tutor or particular type of tutor.
While you might have a more difficult time finding someone than you would when seeking sport league guidance, like mentioned above, you never know. Facebook groups and neighborhood networks can also be good resources to tap into.
4. Expand your search
With the way tutoring and many services are evolving, a tutor doesn’t have to be locally available. Meaning, there could be a number of reasons why finding a local tutor is difficult or impossible, given conflicting schedules, lack of specific specialties, etc.
But with an online tutor, the pool of possibilities to choose from expands greatly, both in terms of finding a tutor for a specific time of day, and finding one who specializes in a particular topic, no matter how specific.
5. Spot the good & bad characteristics
To go along with the above, though, no matter if you have many options to choose from, or only a few, practice due diligence when it comes to the characteristics of a great tutor.
It’s not just about expertise, and it’s not just about personality. Both of these characteristics and more should be considered when searching for not the best tutor, but the best tutor for your child and situation.
One key point here is to always keep your goals in mind, and how the tutor you select should help you and your child move towards those goals. In most cases, if a child wants to learn more about a subject, a good tutor is one who makes that subject relatable and engaging (and yes, even math can be fun), and understands that every child is different; and that every child learns differently.
6. Verify the reputation
With anything new, it’s helpful to find reassurance, and to be able to verify that the product or service we are investing in is a legitimate option. The same goes for tutoring, and even more so given this person will be dealing directly with your child.
So, go the extra step to check and verify the tutor you’re choosing is one you can feel good and confident about selecting. That involves checking out tutoring testimonials if available, getting a feel for the parent company if there is one, and checking any type of star ratings or reviews from previous families.
7. Don’t forget—this is for your child
I’m putting this last not because it’s least important, but because it’s hugely important, and a key point I want to leave you with as you move on from this post and into your tutor search.
That is, tutoring is for your child. It’s to help them overcome challenges they are having with their everyday schooling, or to improve their scores on standardized tests, or to learn something new.
So, while it’s the job of the parent to ensure they are linked with a great tutor, “great” to you might be different than what is actually “great” for them. Meaning, your child learns in a specific way, and responds to certain types of personalities; which may differ from the way you personally prefer to learn, or the type of person you'd find engaging.