Finding an excellent tutor can make a tremendous impact on a child’s ability to succeed academically.  While some kids are able to independently digest in class lectures and textbook explanations, others benefit greatly from an additional system of support.  Parsing through the material after school with a guiding hand can fully illuminate subjects that are otherwise difficult to grasp.  Translation: with the right set of mentors, all students can develop into confident adults with healthy GPAs.  Most parents are well versed in the art of finding a nicely fitting academic institution, but very few are aware of the highly nuanced process for vetting a tutor.  Here are six key components that parents should evaluate when searching for a tutor:

  1. Experience Tutoring Or Teaching – it goes without saying that experience is critical in any field.  It is particularly important in teaching, however, because there are a wide variety of students and respective learning styles.  Some kids are visual learners, others auditory, and still others learn by doing as opposed to watching.  With an abundance of experience comes a greater level of exposure to these various learning styles. As such, there is a higher likelihood that an experienced tutor will be able to seamlessly adapt his/her teaching techniques to your child’s specific needs.
  2. Trial Period – not all tutors will be a good fit with your child’s personality. Even if you find the most academically credentialed and seasoned educator, he/she might simply fail to mesh with your child’s personality.  Accordingly, it is important that your potential tutor offers a trial period.  This will give your family an opportunity to meet with the tutor and examine his/her methods and general demeanor.  If it doesn’t feel like a good fit, you can move on without incurring any unnecessary financial loss.
  3. Relates Well With Children – teaching certainly requires an ability to work well with children.  But what, precisely, does that mean?  From my experience as well as watching other prominent tutors, there are a few different pieces to this puzzle.  First, you want to choose a tutor that your child can look up to and emulate.  Your son or daughter will be more likely to work hard and adhere to his/her tutor’s study plan if that underlying level of respect exists.  Second, you want an educator who makes the sessions fun. Going through material is not always a blast for kids, but enthusiastic and positive personas can transform an otherwise painful session to an exciting and energizing event.  Finally, you need to choose a tutor who is able to patiently teach the material.  Sometimes kids will be charged up and on point; other times, they might feel lethargic or unmotivated.  Your tutor needs to be mentally and emotionally equipped to ride the ups and downs without buckling.
  4. Compatible With The Parents As Well As The Students – when it comes to private tutoring, there is a great need for a solid relationship with the parents as well as the kids.  When working one on one with a student, the tutor is not simply throwing out information in the hopes that the child absorbs some of the material.  Instead, the tutor must carefully develop a tailored plan that involves feedback from both the student and the parents. The parents, the child, and the tutor must merge into a seamless team with identical goals.  Everyone needs to be in the loop in order to ensure the highest satisfaction and optimal results.  Accordingly, a solid relationship with the parents is critical to a healthy academic progression.
  5. Establishes Clear Goals – moving forward without distinct benchmarks is like sailing without a destination.  Kids, like adults, need identifiable goals to keep them centered and focused.  It is important that your child’s tutor sets reasonable objectives each session.  Just to be clear, I’m not talking about setting a numerical goal for test results.  That, in fact, can be counterproductive.   While academic success is the end goal, percentages and grades should not be dwelled upon.  What needs to happen instead is the identification of process related goals pertaining to the (1) completion of additional problems sets, (2) adoption of certain methodologies, and/or (3) recalibration of a student’s state of mind.
  6. Scheduling Flexibility – while it is important to have well established meeting times with your tutor, it is also helpful if your tutor has a reasonable amount of flexibility to accommodate your child’s fluctuating demands. Kids can have a number of last minute events pop that might mandate an impromptu session.  For example, a midterm could manifest on a random day that requires a session.  Or a dance recital could emerge that causes the cancellation of a pre-existing session.  With all of the extra-curricular activities and academic obligations that kids face, a tutor needs to be able to handle the ebbs and flows of a student’s schedule.