Tuesday, June 07, 2011

What to look for in a student's tutor

Parents of children who are having difficulties grasping school lessons routinely turn to tutors to provide the added measure of instruction some students need to succeed. When selecting a tutor, parents should ask questions and keep important things in mind.

Tutors provide a much-needed service to students and can be welcome helpers for teachers. According to reports from state and federal government tutoring advisors, close to $10 million dollars annually is spent on tutors in the United States alone. Although many teachers try to tailor lessons to students with various learning capabilities, there may be instances when some students still fall behind. What's more, some students perform better with the one-on-one teaching style of tutors than they do in a group setting.

There are certain signs a student may need a tutor. These include students consistently earning failing grades, complaining about or giving excuses why they don't want to do homework, behaving badly at school, or complaining that they simply don't want to go to school. All of these issues may be a child's way of masking difficulty grasping lessons. A tutor can step in to catch a student up with lessons and help him or her find a system of learning that works.

The first step to finding a tutor is working with the student to determine what type of tutor may be ideal. Tutors come in different forms:

* Students who volunteer their time helping fellow classmates. There are also alumni who provide tutoring services for low or no cost.

* Teachers who may offer tutoring after school hours.

* Some churches or other organizations offer tutoring availability.

* There are online services where students can get homework help or assistance in different subjects.

* Private tutors that come to the student's home and provide instruction.

* Tutoring companies and franchises where tutoring may take place in a learning facility.

Selecting a tutor

* When interviewing prospective tutors, parents and students should be sure the tutor is qualified. Experts suggest finding a tutor who has five or more years of experience. If the tutor will be offering lessons in a particular subject, certification or a degree in that area is very helpful but not always necessary as long as the tutor is effective.

* Students often meet with a tutor one to three times a week per session. The tutoring arrangement can stretch on for several months. With this in mind, the tutor-student relationship should be a good one. The child should feel comfortable with the tutor.

* Tutors should know the material but also be able to explain it in layman's terms to the student. A good tutor will outline a plan on how he or she will help improve performance but also how the tutor will check up and be sure the student maintains improvement.

* Find a tutor who will be open to interaction with the student's primary teacher. This way lessons can be geared around schoolwork and coincide with what's already being learned.

* Parents will need to be hands-on and take an interest in what the tutor and the teacher have to say. Observing the tutor in action can help determine whether the fit is right or a new tutor needs to be brought in. Parents can wait for five to eight sessions to pass before determining if the tutor is clicking with the child.

* Select a tutor who agrees to periodic progress reports. It is not too ambitious for parents to expect marked academic performance after a month or more of tutoring.

* Cost is always a factor when selecting a tutor. A higher hourly rate isn't always indicative of a better tutor. Depending on the subject matter and certification of the tutors, costs can range from $20 an hour to $50 or more. Shop around for a tutor and remember to emphasize the tutor's relationship with the student more than what the tutor charges per hour.

Tutoring is often a helpful way for students who are falling behind in the classroom to redeem themselves. Hiring a tutor should be done at the first signs of learning difficulty, not when it seems things are too late to institute change.

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