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Tips for Choosing the Best Tutor

Sep 26, 2018 by

There’s nothing worse than watching a student struggle with their schoolwork. Feelings of frustration, defeat, and inadequacy fill a student’s mind and make it difficult to wrap their minds around lessons and techniques. But there are so many ways to reach students and help them grasp new and challenging concepts. Every student learns differently, so often, it’s all about finding an approach that works. One tool that many parents take advantage of is tutoring services. Whether this is within the school system, privately, or online, hiring a tutor can do wonders for a student’s ability to learn and their self-esteem. But where do you start in terms of choosing one and which option is best? Here are a few tips to help get you started.

Know the Student’s Learning Style

This is the first, and most important step in finding the right tutor for a student. Everyone learns differently and finding a tutor that works well with the child’s learning style is essential. This also means finding a tutor who is flexible and open to new and different approaches to teaching. You don’t want a tutor who is close-minded or one who believes the student should mold to their way of teaching. The purpose of hiring a tutor is to teach the student in new and different ways in a relaxed and intimate environment. Some students are visual learners and the tutor should incorporate graphs, charts, diagrams, and videos into their sessions. Other learners work best by doing. A tutor for this type of student should be prepared with tactical examples and hands-on projects or exercises to help students grasp specific and difficult concepts.

Interview Candidates

Once you’ve determined the type of tutor that would best suit the student, it’s time to interview candidates. This doesn’t need to be an overly lengthy process but also shouldn’t be rushed. After all, this person is likely entering the students home or at least meeting the student on an intimate, private level, and should be someone that you trust and feel comfortable with. Does the student respond best to a male figure? Try interviewing male tutors. If the student responds best to a more maternal, gentle approach, maybe a female tutor would be best. Many schools have resources and ways for parents to find tutors. In fact, many teachers offer their time after school or on weekend to tutor students. Another great resource are older students or ones who excel in a particular subject. Contact the higher level establishments in the community and see if any students are interested in tutoring. This often works best if a student feels intimidated by an adult and would be more receptive to learning from a peer.

Try a Unique Approach

The online approach to tutoring is flexible, convenient, and non-threatening for most students. When you opt for an online tutoring program, students can complete assignments from the comfort and privacy of their home and at their own pace. This approach may require more parent involvement because parents are the one monitoring the student’s progress and work. If the child is a more visual or kinesthetic learner, this option may not be best. After all, most online tutoring programs require a lot of independent work and directions in the form of text. Although some programs incorporate videos into the lessons, the one-on-one benefits are sometimes lost. Another unique tutoring approach is the center-based or small group approach. This is where students attend a tutoring session together, in a small group. Many students respond well to this environment because they don’t feel singled-out. They also have the ability to feed off of and learn from fellow students. Companies like Mathnasium offer center-based tutoring sessions where all work is completed during the tutoring session and not taken home as additional work.

Slow and Steady

The last thing you want is for a student to feel overwhelmed with their schoolwork. This leads to additional stress and feelings of inadequacy. Everyone needs a “brain break” at times where they just can’t focus on coursework for another minute! This is why public schools offer recess and encourage creative approaches to teaching such as flexible seating. So what does this mean for choosing a tutor? It’s important not to schedule tutoring sessions everyday after school or for extended periods of time. Try easing into the tutoring process by scheduling sessions twice a week for between 30 and 60 minutes. A frustrated learner is one that cannot grasp new or difficult concepts. When a student’s mind isn’t open or receptive to what’s being taught, progress comes to a halt, leaving everyone frustrated and defeated. Keep the process a positive one and go at the student’s pace. Take cues from the student in terms of how they’re feeling and how they’re responding to the tutor and the process. Of course, they’ll need to go out of their comfort zone slightly but there’s no need to push them or else you’ll, inevitably, push them away.

Track Their Progress

There’s no sense in hiring a tutor, paying the money, and wasting time if it’s not working. And the only way to know if the student is improving is to track their progress. Many tutors will give students mini-tests or quizzes at certain points to determine if the student is grasping new concepts. They may also review previous lessons at the beginning of each meeting. Parents can also gauge students improvement based on their test scores and assignments coming home from school. Students should be struggling less with their schoolwork, homework, and have a more positive attitude toward learning. All of these things are good indicators of whether or not the tutoring process is working.

It’s often a teacher’s job to recognize a student in need. A discouraged or frustrated student isn’t able to learn in a healthy and positive way. Finding a tutor and resources to assists these students can help boost their confidence and foster a lifelong love of learning.

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