What makes a great tutor?
Tips to help you navigate your private tutoring options
The academic school year is here, and many parents may begin contemplating hiring a tutor to help their child in difficult subjects. How do you choose the right tutor for your child, and how do you know whether he or she is a great tutor? We all know the general characteristics to look for in a great tutor: reliability, experience, preparation, etc. But there are other, more subtle characteristics that really define a great tutor. We’ll shed some light on these character traits in the below text. This article will first make the case for the value of hiring a tutor through a tutoring company, and then discuss several unique aspects of what makes a great tutor.
A great tutor has great resources - and a tutoring company can help provide that.
The benefit of a private tutor is that they may charge slightly less than a tutor located through a tutoring company, and you more than likely found them through a positive referral by a family member or friend. The downside to hiring a private tutor is the lack of flexibility, credentials or training, additional resources, and academics tracking that many tutoring companies may offer. Here’s a few benefits of hiring a tutor through a tutoring company:
- Tutoring companies have various methods for back- up tutors in the event that your regular tutor may be unavailable. The availability of a substitute tutor before a big project or test can be grade- saving, and this is unfortunately not an option for families who hire private, independent tutors. An additional benefit of working with a tutoring company is if you decide a tutor is not the right fit for your child, instead of scrambling to find a replacement, you simply call the company and request a different tutor. You would not have that same luxury if you work with an independent tutor.
- Great tutoring companies select high quality tutors specializing in the fields they tutor. Beware of very large tutoring companies that act more as HR firms and simply match tutors to clients without proper support, however. You can always ask the tutoring company what kind of resources and trainings are available for their tutors to get an idea of the kind of support they offer their tutors.
- Tutoring companies are sometimes better equipped than independent private tutors to offer additional free resources to parents and students that may help a child’s academics. Links to educational websites, study tools, and subject review guides can help enhance your child’s learning even after the tutor leaves your home. Again, make sure to ask the tutoring company what additional resources they offer in addition to tutoring.
- Tutoring companies have programs for you to track your child’s progress during tutoring sessions. Many tutoring companies require tutors to provide feedback on each tutoring session with notes on the student’s progress as well as weaknesses. While a private tutor can certainly communicate this information to you in person, a tutor found through a tutoring company can both communicate the information in person and provide a thorough report that you can access online as well.
A great tutor’s goal is to become unnecessary. Yes, you read that correctly! Great tutors want nothing more than for a student to learn how to seek out answers themselves, become self sufficient, and ultimately become so confident in the material that the help of a tutor is no longer necessary. Beware of tutors or tutoring companies who push you to purchase large numbers of sessions up front, especially if they do not have a reasonable refund policy. Great tutors will communicate with you constantly and share your child’s strengths and weaknesses and will truly care about the progress of your child. Their ultimate goal will always be that your child learns.
A great tutor makes your child work for his or her learning. Does the tutor phrase a question in numerous ways? Does the tutor apply your child’s knowledge to relevant real- life examples? Does the tutor ask why something occurs when working through homework problems with a child? Great tutors work your child’s brain in a variety of ways. Any tutor that simply works through problems or helps complete a homework assignment should be replaced. A great tutor not only helps your child with the work provided by the teacher, but guides the tutoring session in a way to accurately assess then improve learning. This is called “checking for understanding”, and great tutors will be trained in ways to properly check for understanding and re- teach material that your child may still struggle with, even after completing a class assignment. You’ll know a tutoring session is great because it will be dynamic: the tutor will ask questions, push your child to extend what he or she knows, rephrases, reviews, and provides positive feedback frequently. If a tutoring session seems passive, or if a tutor is doing all the talking, it may be time to consider a new tutor.
A great tutor has a great relationship with your child. It doesn’t matter if a tutor has a PhD, 20 years of experience, and was nominated for Teacher of the Year. If you child and your tutor can’t connect, great learning won’t happen. It’s important to take careful note of the dynamic between your tutor and your child. Most importantly- ask your child whether he or she likes the tutor! If they don’t mesh well, call your tutoring company and request a better fit. Don’t feel bad about this either- your child’s education is what’s most important, and any good tutoring company will want to make sure you love every aspect of the tutoring session, including a great relationship.
Tutors at Action Potential Learning fit these above characteristics. Our goal is to ensure that our high quality math and science experts promote great learning by great tutoring.
Article written by Shayna L. Pond and Action Potential Learning
Action Potential Learning provides private tutoring in math and science as well as standardized test prep and science and math camps. As math and science specialists, our tutors know and understand difficult math and science concepts and can help you improve your grades and perform on standardized tests.