How to Find a Tutor

Tips from a teacher: How to find a tutor without pulling your hair out

By Rashaun James

“I have no idea,” one parent said.

“Um?” said the next parent, followed by a blank stare.

“Well, I guess call the school,” said another.

Twenty-five parents were interviewed and these were the most common responses when asked the question, “If you thought your child needed a tutor, how would you find the best one to meet your child’s needs?”

For many parents, the process of finding a good tutor for their children is still a little sketchy. “I’m not confident in my ability to find the best tutor for my kids,” said Kimberly Lanier, mother of two. Lisa Sandys reluctantly admitted, “I know my daughter needs a tutor, but it’s been on the back burner because I don’t know where to begin.” Harold Thomas said, “With so much out there, I don’t know how to choose what’s best!”

If you find yourself experiencing the same uncertainty as these parents, or if you’re wishing for answers to the many questions regarding tutoring, today is your lucky day!

First things first

You must first determine whether or not your child needs a tutor, especially since bad grades don’t always mean your child needs one. “Some kids are getting bad grades because they need to get organized,” said eighth grade reading teacher Marieca Mattox. “They may not even need a tutor; just a system for getting their assignments completed and turned in on time.” Mattox teaches at ECOT (Education Classroom of Tomorrow).

Experts suggest talking with your children’s teachers, trusting your parental instincts, and using your common sense to decide if private tutoring is the route to go. Sometimes it’s a no-brainer, according to Columbus City Schools elementary teacher Sarah Grosh. “If your child is struggling to understand material presented in the classroom and you don’t have the time or the ability to help, they need to get a tutor. Simple as that.” 

Where to start looking

Once you’ve determined that your child needs a tutor, it’s a good idea to find a tutor quickly. The sooner you begin working on the problem, the sooner it gets resolved. Contact your child’s school to see if it offers any type of tutoring. Sometimes your child’s teacher will tutor during their lunch hour or hold after school programs that are free for all students. 

You also can call a local college. The Ohio State University’s newspaper, The Lantern, has a classifieds section where you could place an ad at a low cost. You also can go with a tutoring agency. Some require you to meet onsite, but there are others that will come to your home to save you the hassle. The good thing about agencies is that they do all the work for you. Agencies often interview, train and check the criminal backgrounds of all their tutors. It’s less work for you and you have someone who is experienced enough to make the choice for your family, as well as someone to call if the tutor does not meet your needs. Let someone else pull their hair out for a change!

Last but not least, get recommendations from people you know. Just ask around! Most people are more than happy to share things that work for them. 

What to look for in a tutor

There are four main things parents should look for when hiring a tutor for their children.
Expertise. Be sure that the person tutoring your child knows their stuff. Passing Algebra class does not qualify a person to tutor in Algebra. Find someone who has experience tutoring the subject and can show prior results through references and referrals. 

Teaching ability. Try to find a teacher or an education major to tutor your children. Teachers have not only been trained in their subject area, but have been taught how to teach it. Someone with only subject knowledge may not know how to explain it to your child. 

Background check.
Be sure that you or the agency you employ has a recent background check on the tutor you choose. Call the references provided and double check that the person is who they say they are. 

Chemistry. Look for someone who has chemistry with your child. Your child will develop a relationship with this person. He or she will become your child’s friend. Tutors can help build your child’s self-esteem and become the advocate to encourage him or her along the way.