How to find a tutor

Jun 16, 2010 at 11:30 p.m. ET

If you constantly hear your child complaining "I don't get it" or "Why do I have to go to school, anyway?", it may be time to enlist the help of a tutor. But where do you start? Here's a quick guide.

Tutor and boy

According to the Education Industry Association, the demand for tutoring has increased dramatically. As a result, the number of tutors has also increased. Before entrusting your child's academic future to someone, it's important to make sure that center or person is the best match for your child's needs.

Know the goal

Be clear and specific about expectations when interviewing potential tutors. Statements such as "I just want him to do better in school" are too broad. Instead, narrow down your goals, such as better math scores or improved reading comprehension. The more specific you are with the tutor, the better the focus will be.

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Know your budget

Before looking, decide on a budget and know what schedule will work for your family. Prices for tutoring sessions varey widely depending on the level of experience required and the schedule or time of day you are requesting.

Find the right fit

Most important when looking for a tutor are your child's needs. Isolate the areas in which your child is struggling, then make sure that tutoring environment is suitable. Ask questions of learning centers, such as what the student to teacher ratio is. Find out from the Better Business Bureau about outstanding complaints.

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Monitor the results

Sit in on the sessions at the beginning so you understand how the process works. Ask for feedback from your child, and see if her grade gradually improves or that she is moving closer to the goal. If, after several sessions, you don't see improvement or you sense a negative attitude in your child, move on to another tutor.

Where to go

Ask your child's teacher for recommendations and find out if there is an after-school homework clinic or tutoring available from teachers. There may be peer tutoring programs in which older children help younger children; some are even offered through public libraries and community centers. Private tutoring centers such as Sylvan, Huntington and Kumon are always an option. Many communities even have homework help hotlines that allow children to ask questions of licensed teaching professionals.

Where to find a tutor for your kids >>

The web

The Internet is another good resource for finding a quality tutor. Some websites offer tutor directories, connecting students with local tutors or teachers specializing in one-on-one academic assistance. Some forums available are simply live question-and-answer sessions, while others incorporate audio and visual technology to make communicating easier than ever.

A successful tutoring experience can improve your child's grades, build his self-esteem and establish positive lifelong learning habits. Making the effort to find the very best person for the job gives your child the best chance at success.

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