When to Consider Hiring a Tutor

This is post #12 in the series “How to Be a Great Parent-Tutor.”

When should you consider hiring a tutor? While parents can usually be wonderful tutors (and/or homeschool teachers) for their children, sometimes a professional tutor may be able to provide extra help. This post will guide you in considering whether or not you may need to hire a tutor for your child.

Consider the purpose for tutoring: Specific subject? Exam prep? Adjusting to a new situation? Retaining learning during vacation periods? Help with a difficult concept? Study skills? Organizational skills? Background knowledge? More challenge? Motivation? Interests beyond/outside the school curriculum? Other?

Consider your child’s problems and symptoms: Confused with homework assignments? Classroom work not being completed at school? Comes home unhappy every day? Anxious, withdrawn? Fear of failure? Other?

What are your goals and your child’s goals? Excel in a subject? Learn enough to pass? Improve grades enough to take a desired advanced course or attend a post-secondary program? Be able to pass an upcoming exam? Do your goals take into account the needs and abilities of your child? Are the goals reasonable and achievable? Does the child need some help with “basics” first? Are there learning methods that would be most suitable for your child to reach the goals? Do you feel the child is being presented by unreasonable expectations and/or pressures by teachers, friends, or others–or even the child him/herself? (If so, what can be done about it?) Does the child understand and accept the goals?

Learning problems–or something else going on? Social issues? Family issues? Personality conflicts? Health issues? Special needs? Physical issues? Mental health issues? Does your child have issues that need to be addressed by a medical or other professional? Other?

Best learning atmosphere for your child: One-on-one or in a group? Lively or quiet? Structured teaching or freer facilitation of learning? Other?

Learning approaches and styles: A tutor can help a parent with information on various methods suited to an individual child.

What other resources are available? Can the school offer other resources? Community resources? A family member such as a grandparent, or a friend who the child admires? A professional tutor? Online learning courses and games? A parent’s own skills and interests? Other?

Parent skills: Do you as the parent feel you lack skills in a subject area? Can you learn the skill yourself (eg. online or from the child’s teacher or from a tutor) and then help your child, or is a tutor required for the child?

Do you wonder if you as a parent are qualified? Check off the skills and talents you have–you’ll be surprised how qualified you really are! Adaptability, Assessment, Confidentiality, Commitment, Creativity, Empathy, Enthusiasm, Emergency Preparedness, Fairness, Flexibility, Friendliness, Honesty, Humour, Knowledge, Learning Centered, Legalities, Organization, Patience, Professionalism, Respectfulness, Sensitivity, Social Awareness, Written Contracts. (Learn more: A to Z Checklist of Tutor Characteristics). And think of and list other traits you’d like to see in a tutor–and then check off how many of them you already have or could quite easily learn and develop … and list the qualifications a professional tutor might have that you feel you don’t have.

Unexpected situations: Parental illness; job change; etc.; could a tutor step in until the parent can resume helping the child?

Time and scheduling: How much time do you have available as a parent tutor? Would it help to hire a tutor, and how does that fit your schedule? Does the child need extra help on a daily or weekly basis? Or just before exams? Or just for a particular project? Or? How much time each day is reasonable for your child’s age and abilities (frequent, short learning sessions are better than occasional long sessions)? Is the child being overloaded with sports, out-of-school lessons, travel time, etc.? What are priorities and what can be set aside? Does the child need more free play time or more rest? Is the teacher giving too much homework; talk it over and let the teacher know how much is suitable and what kind works best.

Know your child: A parent knows a child’s interests, learning styles, disappointments, motivations: Use that knowledge to make problem subject matter far more fun, interesting, and easier to learn. “Real life learning” and “personal passions” are far better “homework/tutoring” methods than worksheets! But sometimes children will work better with a tutor. If you decide that is the case, be sure to share with the tutor what you know about your child.

Motivation: What really makes your child interested in learning, and provides confidence and upbeat attitudes? Would encouraging personal interests lead to overall motivation to learn? Is your child under too much pressure? Would a tutor help?

Parent-child relationship issues: If a parent feels frustrated in their learning relationship with the child, a tutor could help the parent assess the situation, and offer suggestions, as well as take over temporarily till relational issues improve.

Have you decided hiring a tutor would be a good idea? Here are some things to think about as you look for a good tutor: Cost? Preferred days of week and times of day? Location (tutor’s office, library, your home)? One-on-one or small group sessions? Are you hiring a tutor because your child really needs one, or are you under pressure from other people? You will find detailed information on how to find and work with the best tutor for your child’s needs by reading other posts on this website. A full list of the posts can be found on the Tutoring Topics page.

And of course, if you’d be interested in checking out my tutoring services, I’d be delighted to speak with you. You can find out more about me on my Pen and Paper Mama Services page. And check out the photos at the top of this post: my tutoring office here in Penticton BC 🙂  You can contact me by email or phone me at 250-490-0336.

Here are the other topics in the “How to Be a Great Parent-Tutor” series:

  1. Why children need parent-tutors
  2. Important activities parent-tutors can do well
  3. Building a Good Parent-Tutor and Child Relationship
  4. Learning Styles, Intelligences, and Behaviours
  5. Developing Individualised Tutoring–Tips for Parents
  6. Monitoring Your Child’s Progress
  7. Some Basic Learning Goals
  8. Home Tutoring Resources
  9. Suggestions for a Tutoring Session at Home
  10. Specific Suggestions for Primary Grades
  11. Specific Considerations for Intermediate Grades
  12. When to Consider Hiring a Tutor
  13. Costs of Tutors and Alternatives
  14. All Kinds of Learning Activities
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