Thoughts on how to pick a great tutor.

If you have a Grey Area child who is struggling in one or more areas at school, options for help are varied depending on your budget. Finding a tutor is a common solution, and can make a huge difference for your child. Tutors, like people, come in all varieties, from dismal to fantastic so here is my five top tips on picking a great tutor for your family.

  • Class size:

Some tutors work, one-on-one with your child. Other tutoring companies put two or three children & teens of varying ages in the classroom together. For a child struggling in school, the smaller the better, ideally go for one-on-one coaching. Self esteem issues go hand in hand with struggling in school and children very quickly become adept at finding ways around the area they struggle in so he doesn’t look “stupid” in front of his friends. Working one-on-one with a tutor creates a safe space for a child to be honest about where he really is without comparing himself to his friends. Kids who are struggling in class require 100% of the attention of whoever they are working with because often the problem that is holding the child back is deeper than initially thought. Like a detective, a good tutor will pick up on small clues the child unknowingly gives to ferret out the real issues at hand.

  • Teaching Style:

Einstein said that the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again expecting different results. There are many thousands of tutors out there who apparently have never heard this before. If your child were struggling with long division, this type of tutor would bring a pile of long division exercises and sit with your child while she did them over and over again. If you were lucky, your child will have a moment of brilliance when she figured out a technique for completing long division herself. Generally, however you would end up with a frustrated child and tutor. A good teacher knows that it is the teacher”s fault when the learner doesn’t learn. It is up to the teacher to find a way to teach that person in a way that works for the learner. When looking for a tutor, you are looking for a person who can be creative in his or her teaching approach. Multi Sensory Learning programs are phenomenal in this perspective.

  • Experience:

Teaching is something that is 10% learned and 90% experience. Many tutors are tutoring because they have just graduated and haven”t been able to get a teaching job yet. The gift that new tutors bring is an ability to connect with children and an energy that older tutors have lost. A new tutor working for a tutoring company with an excellent multi sensory program for the tutor to follow and experienced co-workers to learn from can work well but pales in comparison to experience. A good experienced tutor however, has a sixth sense. An ability to almost sniff out holes in a child’s learning and come at problems from different angles to fill the holes and build confidence.

  • Independent or Corporate:

Tutoring is big business these days. The reality is that tutoring is mostly about the person. You can find a great independent tutor on craigslist as well as a great tutor in a company. Go with the person not the glossy brochures.

  • Personality:

Sometimes personalities don’t match. Your child may just not connect with the fabulous tutor you have found. The best way to avoid this is to involve your child in the selection process.

Finding an excellent tutor can be a game changer for a child struggling in school. If it works, don’t expect it to be a short solution. The extra help gives children confidence that they can succeed, you will need to be sensitive it may be a while before your child feels that he or she can survive in school without the extra help. If you are looking for other options for your Grey Area child click here. Speaking as someone who has both had a tutor and been a tutor it’s always been a fun experience for me, I hope you have the same experiences.

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