As America’s education system evolves and looks to define itself, more and more families across the country are hiring tutors to help their children with their academic needs.
Contributed by Daniel Breiner, chief marketing officer of WyzAnt.com
According to Dr. Sandi Ayaz, executive director of the National Tutoring Association, private tutoring in the U.S. alone has “exploded tenfold” over the past eight years. While some parents hire tutors to help their children overcome academic obstacles, other parents hire tutors to encourage and challenge their children in ways that might not be possible in a classroom setting.
Whatever the objective of the tutoring may be, it’s important for parents to take the time to locate and hire a tutor who will work well with their child’s learning style and personality. To ensure you have found the right tutor for your child, ask your tutor the following questions before beginning lessons:
What is your teaching style?
Every student learns differently, which is why it’s impossible for school teachers to structure their classroom lessons to match each individual student’s preferred learning style. The right private tutor, however, can adapt lessons to cater to your child’s strengths whether he is an auditory learner (learns best by listening), visual learner (learns best through sight) or a kinesthetic learner (learns best through experience). Before you hire a tutor, find out if he can structure lessons in a format that is conducive to your child’s preferred learning style.
What is your plan for helping my child?
While this may seem like a loaded question for someone who has not yet met your child or even seen examples of his school work, the response will reveal the tutor’s thought process for diagnosing your child’s needs and creating a plan to achieve the desired results. The right tutor will have a strategy, and possibly specific methods, for identifying problem areas and understanding the child’s learning behavior. An effective tutor will also recognize the importance of working with the student (and in some cases, the parents) to establish performance improvement goals that are both measurable and attainable.
Why do you tutor?
Tutoring is about building a productive learning relationship between a tutor and student. The most effective tutors are individuals who are passionate about teaching and are able to derive value from seeing their students succeed. While many tutors provide lessons as a primary or supplemental source of income, the ideal tutor will take a vested interest in your child’s progress and have the patience and willingness to do whatever it takes to help your child succeed.
Do you have any references, or have you worked with students in a similar situation as my child?
Objective, reliable references are very informative but they can also be hard to come by. Online tutoring marketplaces like WyzAnt.com compile lesson ratings and written reviews from actual students who have previously worked with tutors. Reading third-party reviews from parents and students who have worked with a tutor will provide invaluable insight into what you can expect from a tutor in terms of subject proficiency and personality. If you choose to hire a tutor on your own rather than through a reputable marketplace, it’s still a good idea to ask for references; however, the reference you receive may not be a completely impartial source.
How can you help my child become an independent learner?
The most effective and valuable tutoring relationships will help the student become a more engaged, independent learner. Memorizing and mastering very specific topics or skills may yield some results, but it is ultimately a short-term solution to the student’s broader educational needs. While certain lessons may focus on a particularly troublesome topic, learning to understand and appreciate the learning process, theory and logic behind concepts will help your child overcome subsequent obstacles, avoid future frustration and flourish as a student.
WyzAnt.com is an online marketplace for private tutors. WyzAnt’s network includes more than 65,000 active private tutors nationwide in subjects that range from math and science to test preparation and music.