Getting the most from your tutoring relationship often comes down to a number of component parts.
- The right program
- The right tutor
- A rigorous process of review to ensure the right approach for your child.
Start by identifying your child’s academic needs before determining the best format and approach for helping them.
Why finding the right tutor is important
Unlike a regular classroom situation, which offers little or no input when it comes to teacher allocation, you can actually choose who tutors your child. When finding the best fit, look beyond academic credentials (although these are certainly important) to the interpersonal factors that will shape the relationship between your tutor and child. These things impact the way your child learns just as much as the right study materials and practice questions.
Does the tutor communicate clearly? Do they have a forceful or overbearing nature? Are they playful or serious? Perhaps your child needs a humorous teacher or maybe a more disciplined approach is best for them. If your child is struggling with confidence, look for someone who displays clear tendencies towards patience and support. Don’t be afraid to shop around to find the right candidate.
How to pick the right tutor
Great tutors are learning partners for your child. Look for a one-on-one relationship with a tutor who has:
- Excellent listening skills so they can engage with your child and hear what they’re saying
- An arsenal of different tutoring methods which they can match to your child’s abilities
- Good instructional design skills so they can devise a course plan to achieve the objectives
- Access to the right content to keep tutoring sessions interesting and stimulating over time
- Good administrative skills
Where to find a good tutor
You could ask friends for tutor recommendations, but that will lead you to the person who worked well for their child. You can find a subject matter expert — an academic or student with a strong background in the area of study – but someone at the top of their field may not have the interpersonal skills to help a student at the other end of the scale. In other words, if you’ve never struggled with maths, why would you be good at explaining maths to someone who’s struggling?
A tutor who is supported by an organisation has the benefit of a network behind them, freeing them of admin work and leaving them to focus on engaging the learner and working towards their objectives. You might also consider asking your child’s teacher for recommendations. They’ll often be able to call on a network of other teachers who are aligned with their particular approach.
Finally, you could enter the open marketplace of tutors available for hire. There are several tutoring agencies who offer a catalogue of tutors for hire, with prices and testimonials available for comparison.
Think about the needs of your family
Have you considered the logistics of getting your child to and from their session, or finding one of the few tutors who will come to you? Tutoring can be undermined by time constraints and logistical stresses. Your child might feel that they’re inconveniencing the family. Their siblings might become annoyed or resentful about being dragged to a tutor’s house or learning centre.
An online tutor circumvents many of these challenges by being available to your child wherever they have an internet-enabled device. This eliminates extra commuting and is especially convenient for separated or blended families which see children moving between multiple households.
Give yourself the best chance of success
A successful tutoring relationship combines the right person, delivering a quality program, and working with your child’s teachers (i.e. supporting what’s being learned in class), not undermining them. This equates to tutoring in the context of the child, rather than simply finding a ‘nice’ subject expert and hoping that they can solve your child’s academic issues.