How to hire a tutor

This is post #5 in the series: How to choose the right tutor


Hiring a tutor for your child – or for yourself, if you require a tutor – is a very important decision, and should be done carefully. 

Here are some tips you may want to follow to find the right tutor for your needs:

  • Before you hire a tutor, ask questions of prospective tutors, look carefully at references, and use your instinct and your knowledge of your child to decide if the tutor would be a good fit.  Your child should be present at either the intial interview or at a follow-up interview before confirming the hire. Involve your child in the final hiring decision, since he/she is going to be half of the learning team and needs to be comfortable and motivated.
  • Ask to see credentials (tutor certification, provincial teaching certification, other specialized training).  Ask to see a complete resume related to the tutor’s education and experience.
  • Ask for letters of recommendation that speak to the person’s ability as a tutor and not just matters of general character.  The letters should be current and include full contact information for the person making the recommendation.  Make the calls necessary to verify the recommendations.
  • Ask about tutor availability (day, evening or weekend) and whether (and when) the tutor is available for special lessons (such as before major exams), and for parental phone calls or other discussions outside the lesson times.
  • Give the tutor a list of your concerns and goals for your child. Ask the tutor for a basic plan of how he or she will assist your child.  How will the tutor initially assess your child’s academic needs and challenges?  How will success be measured?  When and how will feedback be provided to the parent and/or the child’s teacher?
  • Does the tutor carry liability insurance? Has he/she had a recent background check?
  • What professional association(s) does the tutor belong to?  How does the tutor stay current with methods and strategies?
  • Ask how long the tutor has been tutoring? if they enjoy tutoring? how many students they are working with currently? how they deal with students in frustrating situations, or when the student is clearly not “getting it”? what different kinds of methods they use, and how they individualize tutoring programs for each child?
  • Ask how the tutor defines his/her roles as tutor? and your role as parent? how the tutor will communicate with your child’s teacher(s) and how often?
  • Keep in mind that a tutor does not necessarily need to have taken the specific course in order to be a good tutor. Also, getting a high mark in a course doesn’t necessarily mean the student is a good tutor. If the subject matter came very easily to him/her, he/she could have difficulty explaining it to others.
  • Ask for a demonstration lesson (you may be charged a fee, but it is worth it).  Observe the tutor’s approach.  Where does the tutor sit in relation to the child?  Does he/she respect your child’s personal space?  How does the tutor interact?  Explain? Respond?Does the tutor allow the student to actually do the work, or does he/she do the child’s work to some degree?  Does the tutor ask good questions that require your child to think?  Is the child encouraged to ask questions?  Is the tutor patient and professional?  What about tone of voice and information delivery?  Does the tutor allow the child sufficient time to figure things out?  Does he/she offer sincere praise?

Discussion:  What other kinds of information might you ask for when you are deciding whether or not to hire a tutor?  Share your thoughts in the comments section below.  Thanks!

Penticton tutor:  If you live in the Penticton area, and are looking for a tutor, be sure to check out my Penticton tutor information page!


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