How to select a tutor is a question on many parents’ lips. Some brilliant advice from the experts at Kings Tutors. Who would know better than a tutor?
You may not be able to pick who teaches your child at school. However, you can choose their tutor. Therefore, it makes sense to be more fastidious about finding a good fit for your child. It is estimated more than 350,000 secondary-aged school children have received private tuition in 2018. This is according to a survey commissioned by the Sutton Trust, up from about 160,000 in 2009. With this huge rise in tutoring in recent years, there are more avenues than ever to consider. However, the whole process can seem overwhelming to a parent seeking tuition for their child for the first time. This article breaks down the process for you, providing you with the key information you need to select the best tutor for your child. Emily Jack, the founder of Kings Tutors, shares how advice on how to select a tutor for your child.
Assessing your child’s needs
Before deciding on a tutor, you must first identify the specific areas in which your child most needs support. Perhaps they are struggling in one particular subject or are needing help preparing for an important exam. Talking with your child should be the first step to see what aspects they find trickiest. It is definitely worthwhile to also have a conversation with their teacher who will be familiar with your child and can give more of an insight into the situation.
Weaker test results are not wholly indicative of your child’s abilities and usually, the bigger picture shows that they just need a little help in a certain area of work they find challenging. Once you’ve assessed these problematic aspects – they can include a huge range from essay-writing, time management, exam technique, etc. – then you will be able to communicate these much more clearly to the potential tutor and ensure that they are focused on.
Another point to consider at this stage would be whether or not your child would feel more comfortable in a group tuition setting or with a one-on-one tutor interaction. If you and your child decide that a group setting would be better, you can then contemplate the sort of group size that would be ideal. Whilst some students find it less stressful to be accompanied by others in the same position and with less attention directly placed on them, too large a group may prevent their academic needs being met as effectively.
The primary practical factor to take into account is cost. Tutoring prices can vary according to location, subject and the tutor’s experience levels. Hourly costs varying from £25 – £120 (the average rate being approximately £40) across the United Kingdom. If using a tutoring agency do try to be wary of any introductory fees they may charge. Also any package payments they offer before you have even had a chance to meet with the tutor. The best approach is to evaluate your budget and then to chat with the prospective tutor. Come to an agreement over a fair price that you’re both happy with. It is important to have this conversation as early as possible in order to avoid any awkward price miscommunications later on.
If cost is quite a significant element of your overall selection process, then it may be rewarding to research online tuition websites. Online tutoring can be more flexible in terms of scheduling and cost. So, depending on your situation may be the preferred option. Whilst a tutor who meets with your child in person may be developing a more effective rapport due to the perhaps more personable aspect. Many new online services use interactive tools such as online whiteboards to ease communication. Websites such as MyTutor have a rigorous interviewing process for their tutors. Only 1/7 of applicants are accepted; usually coming from esteemed universities. Online tutoring websites also provide reviews and testimonials for their tutors to attest to the quality of their services.
If you do decide that an in-person tutor is the best option for your child then it is vital that you consider practical elements such as will they conduct sessions in your home or theirs? How long will each session last and how frequently will they take place? Another factor to be thought about is how long you estimate you would require tutoring for your child – most tutors can be flexible and are willing to see how your child progresses before establishing a potential ‘end date’. Depending on the tutor, homework given outside of tutoring sessions is also an option to be considered. If this is something you think would be beneficial, try to strike the balance between how much extra work your child would find helpful and how much would, in fact, inflict more pressure due to time constraints.
Choosing a tutor
Child safety is paramount and should be a key component affecting how you select a tutor. A private in-person tutor should be able to provide a recent DBS certificate (previously the CRB Criminal Record check). This “help employers make safer recruitment decisions”. It also allows you greater peace of mind. When it comes to online tutoring the online sessions are recorded. Then made available to the parents and students. None of your contact details is made visible to the tutor for safety reasons.
A tutor should ideally have a high level of experience as well as good knowledge and familiarity with the curriculum your child is studying. Be sure to check what examination board is taught at your child’s school as these can vary. The different exam boards will have slightly different content. An established tutor will be able to provide you with references and reviews from previous students/parents. These will demonstrate their capabilities and experience levels.
A passion for the subject they teach is also a huge benefit and you should be able to feel confident in their knowledge of it. A passion for the subject really does make a difference when it comes to motivating your child and developing their natural curiosity for the subject. Enthusiasm is infectious and will result in your child growing a greater interest in the subject as well as more confidence in its application. The best tutor will be able to clearly articulate their methods and approach to you and the way in which these would be suitable to your child’s own personal teaching preferences and requirements
Meeting a potential tutor
A meeting can be set up to see how your child gets on with the tutor. This will help determine their natural rapport. Online tutoring services often offer free online video ‘meetings’. You can then organise this for an in-person tutor at your home or theirs. An introduction ‘practice’ lesson could also be considered so that you can evaluate the tutor-student dynamic. Subsequently, you can see the tutor’s teaching methods in practice for yourself.
The ideal tutor is not only approachable and friendly. They encourage your child to engage with the work and build their confidence. They are also patient and positive to ease any fears or apprehensions. After this first contact, you can then discuss with your child if they honestly feel comfortable with the tutor. There is no point in continuing tuition if there is a bad rapport. This will only hinder their academic development and not improve their motivation to learn. Tuition should be engaging and interesting for your student. If they dread the sessions then the situation clearly needs changing.
Select the best tutor
After selecting a suitable tutor then you can discuss with them a plan for regular updates. These could be over email, the phone, or in person. The priority is that you have a steady level of communication to assess your child’s progress and address any problems. In this way, you can also collaborate on formulating goals for the tutoring. Working with the schoolteacher too, if possible. In order to evaluate how the tutoring is advancing your child’s schoolwork.
The best tutor will be one who not only helps to improve your child’s academic performance and exam scores but one who boosts their confidence and encourages them to actually enjoy learning.
Who is Emily Jack
Emily Jack, a qualified teacher, founded Kings Tutors in 2012 after tutoring for five years. Passionate about children’s education, she noticed that too many children did not have the support they needed to pass the increasingly competitive school entrance examinations. There also seemed to lack the support to cope with the pressure put upon them. Emily strongly believes that tutoring can be something that can work alongside formal education and that it focuses on individual styles of learning.
Kings Tutors is a leading London private tutoring agency and education consultancy. They provide advice and academic tuition. This is done both in person and online to their clients in London, the UK and across the globe
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