How to Find the
Perfect Tutor

The decision to hire a tutor is often a liberating one for parents. Just the thought of no longer having to help with math homework can feel like Christmas, complete with visions of good grades dancing in one's head.

Last year Americans spent more than $4 billion on tutoring services! Drive past almost any shopping center, and you will be amazed by the number and variety of these stores and clubs cropping up like weeds. The commercials are all over TV, as well. Do those sappy commercials make you cry? Johnny's grades (and his skin) will be weepingly perfect- if only you use the mega companies spending millions of dollars advertising on TV.

These options and visibility mean that parents are almost guaranteed to find the person or place that suits their child's needs and the family budget. The bad news is that there are plenty of people more interested in taking your hard-earned money than truly helping your child.

One way to prevent wasting your child's time and your money is to begin your search with some preparation.

Sorry, more homework.

Knowing what kind of experience you hope to have moves you one step closer to actually having it.

Questions to Ask Yourself

Inside or outside your home? You know your child better than anyone- will being at home be distracting or comforting? If you decide to go outside of your home, do you want to try a national chain, a smaller company or an individual?

One-on-one or group? While private help is usually more expensive than group, the targeted attention may allow your child to reach her goals more quickly. Groups, on the other hand, provide an opportunity to interact and learn from others.

Adult or peer? Teachers, college students and adults may have expertise and years of experience, but same-age students "speak each other's language." Peer help can be especially beneficial for middle and high school students.

Exactly what kind of help does your child need? Reading? Math? Homework? Be specific and don't buy package deals with unnecessary services.

What is your price limit? What you'll pay depends on geographical area, type, frequency, and expertise. Of course, you can't spend your last dime, but now is not the time to be cheap, either. It makes more sense to pay top dollar for a shorter time period than go the cheap route forever.

Does Your Potential Tutor...

Show genuine interest in your child and his academic goals?

Have experience? Will they assess (test) your child? Do they have their own materials?

Have expertise in a particular subject? Does your child need it? It is more difficult and expensive to find good tutors in some subjects: high school math, for example.

Make incredible promises like bringing your child from failing grades to all As, lickety-split? If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Have references? Check them! You can never be too careful.

Seem strange? Follow your instincts. If you feel uncomfortable for any reason, keep looking.

Once you and your child "click" with a person or place, try them out on a trial basis. Be patient, flexible, and willing to try more than one tutor to find the right fit.

Don't forget to elicit your child's help. Believe it or not, our children discuss things other than music, clothes and sports! When one of my tutoring students "suddenly" became a math whiz, a classmate asked him how he did it.

Imagine, 8th grade boys giving out my phone number!

More Homework Peace?

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