15 Questions to Ask When Looking for a Tutor
1. What do you tutor?
There is no sense in having a long conversation if the tutor does not teach the subject you need.
2. Where do you tutor?
Some tutors travel to the client’s home, some tutors meet in a neutral location, and some tutors have the client come to them.
Don’t forget online tutoring!
Many tutors will use a combination of one of the methods above with online tutoring or do all of their teaching online.
If you have any issues with the location of the lessons, ask the tutor why he or she chooses to teach in this way. You might be surprised that a method will work for you even though you never thought about it.
3. How long is each tutoring session? How often do you meet with the student?
4. What is your availability?
If the tutor does not have any spots available or nothing that will accommodate your schedule, then you can decide to continue on with the conversation or not. It might still be a great idea to get to know the tutor for future reference.
5. What are your qualifications, certifications or credentials?
While qualifications are important, there are a wide variety of qualifications. Is the tutor able to express himself or herself well in describing his or her strengths? It is more important that the tutor feels comfortable with the teaching process than his or her having a PhD.
6. How long have you been tutoring?
Again, this should not be the only deciding factor. Someone new to tutoring would not have a lot of experience, but she or he might still be an excellent tutor. Of course, one with lots of experience has probably dealt with many different learning styles and has gone well beyond the lessons learned from textbooks or teacher’s college into the real world of teaching and learning.
7. Can you tell me a little bit about your teaching philosophy?
Get to know the tutor by discussing education overall and his or her feelings and thoughts about the importance of learning. This gives both of you a chance to speak more freely and get to know one another. You can often begin to get a “feel” that this is the right fit. If a tutor cannot clearly express himself or herself about teaching and students, it might be time to look a little further.
8. Have you worked before with students who have learning challenges?
This question would not apply to everyone, but many parents are looking for a tutor to handle an identified student. Even without a formal identification, a student might have issues with attention, dyslexia, or other learning challenges that require remediation. A tutor who has worked with these kinds of issues will have tools and strategies to help.
9. How do you assess students?
What kind of tools does the tutor use to discover a student’s current abilities and challenges? How will these tools be used to generate a useful program? Is the tutor willing and able to incorporate results from other assessments?
10. How do you design the student’s program?
Will the program be flexible or static? Will the program be homework support only, or will the program be solely based on the tutoring materials? Of course, flexible programs might include a homework support component as well as lessons to strengthen a student’s foundation.
11 . What kind of reporting do you provide?
You might discuss the kind and amount of contact available between reports as well.
12. How can I help in the learning process?
Are there things that I can do at home to help improve the results?
13. How much do you charge per session?
Please, do not hire a tutor solely based on price! This is such a bad idea, but something a lot of people do. Cheap is not always the best choice – particularly when we are talking about developing someone’s brain and helping them gain the skills they will need for the rest of their lives.
14. Are there any other additional fees for materials, phone calls, assessments, extra homework practice, etc.?
A tutor should always be up-front about the cost of tutoring. Unfortunately, sometimes there are a lot of hidden fees. You should be fair as well. If a tutor is providing a lot of extra practice, she or he has to prepare the materials, read over and mark the answers, and include all of this in their reporting method. Doing the extra work might need to be rewarded.
15. What is the policy for cancellations and make-up sessions?
Keep in mind that pedagogically the student should be consistent and available for his or her sessions or to make them up as soon as possible. To be fair, this also makes sense for the tutor from a business perspective. Your goal and the tutor’s goal should be to achieve as many sessions as possible on the right day and time.
These questions will get you started. I can’t stress enough how important it is to find a tutor that will work with you or your child’s particular challenges and goals in mind. Look for a tutor who won’t simply “plug-in” your child to a program designed for all. Learning is not the same for everyone, so the program for your child should not be identical to the one for thousands more!
This week’s video: Questions to Ask When Looking for a Tutor