Finding a private tutor has become so much easier in recent years, thanks notably to the Internet and sites like Tutorially™ that provide directories for personal tutors to help them find students, as well as being well indexed by search engines so students can find them. With so many people asking themselves: 'how should I go about finding reputable tutors near me?' Finding a personal tutor has become easier with the arrival of the Internet, and recent innovations such as online tutoring mean you are no longer restricted to your local area. Finding a good private tutor, however, remains as difficult as ever. And a tutor may be great for one student, but not so great for the next. In this article, we’ll go over the most fundamental elements that determine the success of a student/tutor relationship – chemistry, cost and capability – helping you to find the hit and avoid the miss!
As a parent, you are the best qualified to find a good tutor for your child. Make sure to take a look at your child’s school books to help you understand their academic strengths and weaknesses. Consider feedback from teachers at recent parent’s evenings when choosing a subject for a private tutor outside of school, but also keep in mind your child’s interests and passions. The reality here is you are going to be making your child do school work outside of school hours, and that weight will be far easier for all to bear with a little more enthusiasm for a subject.
Now that you have a handle on what you need from a tutor in professional terms, you can focus on the bigger picture. There are many ingredients that come together to make a good tutor, some can be easily validated where others call for using your gut. Few tutors will tick every box, so considering the overall result is more important than any single category.
The relationship between student and personal tutor might sound like a frivolous side issue to the important matter of education, but in reality, the chemistry of student and tutor is absolutely fundamental to the success of the partnership.
Will the tutor ‘get on’ with your child? Hugely subjective, and to an extent the only way to find out is to give it a try. Many good tutors offer an initial one-off session to discuss current student abilities and your ambitions, lesson length and frequency as well as any other pertinent information. This session will be invaluable for gauging the potential for success. A good tutor will quickly adapt to a new student and likely offer the same level of service to all but the most resistant of students, as well as asking for your thoughts on how best to motivate your child. A student who does not connect with a tutor may result in less than perfect results from the session. You might want to ask the tutor how lessons are structured, what strategies the tutor has to keep material engaging, particularly for lessons that potentially happen after a full day at school. A good tutor will have a plan for all situations based on their experience, and you might want to ask specific questions based on the needs of the student. If you know yourself that attention often wains after 20 minutes, discuss with the tutor and see what strategies are offered for overcoming the problem.
Being close enough to be aware of progress without being in the room and influencing it is advised, both for introductory lessons and in general. Good chemistry between tutor and student will be evident both during the session and in attitudes towards it. Does the student look forward to lessons, enjoy them, complete any preparatory work as required and in general engage with tuition? Does the student like the tutor? Tutors are obviously not paid to be friends, nor will feedback always be positive, but a good tutor who is interested in the progress of their students will have developed ways to deliver criticism positively, and in a way that spurs the student on to better things, rather than leaving them feeling deflated and despondent.
OK, there is no getting away from a private tutor coming at a cost. But there is an old adage that if you think engaging a professional is expensive, just wait until you see what an amateur costs you! Tutors are generally sensitive to the needs of the student and appreciative of the cost impact. They are also aware of market rates, like any other profession. There is a very good chance that a tutor will be charging the prevailing rate for a local area, so whilst we appreciate cost is always a factor, selecting a tutor solely based on cost is ill-advised.
By all means, approach three tutors and see how their costs compare – that will give you the local ‘going rate’. If a tutor then appears and offers you a price at half that rate, you might want to ask why. Perhaps they are just starting out and trying to build a business – a common and entirely reasonable explanation. But that might also suggest that prices will increase in the future, which is again understandable, but if cost is a concern in the beginning, it may become one in the future.
Fundamentally, make sure costs are communicated transparently ahead of time and that everybody agrees. Is everything included, are there any materials you need to provide? Problems only really occur as a result of misunderstandings, so make sure you ask plenty of questions in the initial stages to maximise the chances of a positive experience for everyone.
Finally, the consideration you probably started with – it is important that the tutor you find be capable, both in their chosen subject and as a private tutor.
Qualifications – The obvious one! You are likely to find a tutor has at least a degree in the subject they teach, though this varies with subject area. Music, for instance, is often led by experience and tangible aptitude with the instrument in question rather than any specific qualification. A lack of qualifications does not automatically mark a tutor as bad, but it makes it harder for them to demonstrate their worth. What level of education does the tutor have, and what school did they go to? Many qualified teachers with classroom experience are expensive as tutors, but they may still be good value for their fee. Some subjects are less reliant on qualifications and more on practical application and experience. Bringing us neatly on to…
Experience - What experience does the tutor have of teaching children of the same age the subject in question? Have they previously supported students in the preparation for the same exam as you have looming? Perhaps they have personal experience, having taken the same test themselves. Students often advertise lower rates for tutoring and may lack qualifications, but they may also have more recent and relevant experience of the syllabus, which is worth considering. A tutor closer in age to the student may be perceived to lack gravitas but might also have better chemistry with the student.
References and Testimonials – A good tutor will be all too aware of how important references are and will likely have been collecting them throughout their teaching career. A proven track record is a strong indicator of a good tutor, though obviously, no two students are the same. Ask for references and try to focus on those you consider relevant to your own circumstances. Testimonials are a guide toward finding a good tutor, not a guarantee.
In summary, we expect you’ve already got a very good eye on the qualifications of prospective tutors as well as the associated costs, but you would be well advised to spend an equal amount of time on the relationship between tutor and student. Make sure the partnership is a good fit to maximise the chances of a harmonious and successful tuition experience for all!.
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