Finding the Right Tutor for Your Child

If your son or daughter is struggling in school, you know that more than just his or her grades are affected. Difficulty in school can impact virtually every aspect of a child's life, from self-image to relationships at home. A good tutor can help identify and break down your child's learning barriers, improving his or her grades in the short term and setting the stage for long-term academic success. But it takes the right tutor to make a real difference.

Look Beyond Subject Matter Expertise

Of course, subject matter expertise will be one of your most important considerations when selecting a tutor. If your child is having trouble in math, you'll want to hire a former math teacher or even a high school math whiz. Be aware, however, that subject matter expertise is only part of what makes a tutor effective. When you interview potential tutors, don't be afraid to ask about their outside interests and hobbies. The more they have in common with your child, the easier it will be to make a real connection. And don't discount your first impressions: they're usually right. If a tutor seems shy, for instance, and your child tends to need a little extra help getting focused, it's probably not going to be a good match.

Consider the Learning Environment

In most communities, there is no shortage of after-school tutoring programs available. Big-name learning centers seem to be springing up on every corner. But is yet another classroom really the best place for your child to learn?

If possible, find a tutor that comes to you. In-home tutoring eliminates the embarrassment and social distractions inherent to the classroom and allows both teacher and student to stay focused. And because you'll be in the next room, in-home tutoring adds a level of accountability you won't find elsewhere.

Expect a Personalized Learning Plan

Your child has his or her own strengths, weaknesses, challenges and learning style. While a boilerplate tutoring program might produce results eventually, it won't be the most efficient (or cost-effective) way to help your child reach his or her academic goals. Before hiring a tutor, find out how he or she will assess your child's needs; and ask to see or at least discuss your child's learning plan before you spend a dime.

Through careful interviewing and just a few minutes of extra legwork, you'll find a tutor who can inspire and motivate your child while providing the tools he or she will need to succeed academically both now and in the years to come.

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