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5 Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing a Tutor
1. Waiting Too Long
One of the most common things we hear from parents is:
“I wish we had called you sooner”.
This is why, as we all know too well, hindsight is always 20/20. While the clock can’t be turned back, we can at least all learn something from it.
It can be challenging to know when your son or daughter needs additional support.
If you jump in too soon, they may not feel it’s needed
It can send them an unintentional negative message in terms of their efforts not being enough.
If you wait too long, then the hole they may find themselves in can be all that much more challenging to get out of.
One thing to consider is that it’s generally easier to back off from tutoring than to dig out of a hole. Starting the year strong is such an important factor in how a school year goes.
It never hurts to pick up the phone, ask some questions, and at least have a plan in place. That way, if it’s needed things are ready to go!
What you can do
Pay close attention to the results of the first few graded assignments.
Check in with teachers earlier, rather than later.
Remember that it’s easier to back off than to try and dig out of a hole.
2. Choosing the least or most expensive option
If you have looked around for tutoring, the difference in rates can be rather staggering. In many industries, while there are certainly different price points, we usually have a decent idea of what we will pay. Not so with tutoring.
You can find high school students and undergrads that will gladly help out for $15/hour. You can also find tutoring agencies who will offer you their “Platinum Package” for $200/hour.
Money doesn’t always equate with quality though, so it’s nearly impossible to say what the quality of these tutors would be.
No doubt that there are low price tutors out there who are excellent at what they do. It’s also a certainty that there are overpriced tutors who may have wonderful credentials, but aren’t effective teachers and mentors.
While cost is obviously a consideration, and should be a part of the criteria that is used to find a tutor, it shouldn’t be the driving force, or used as a way to gauge the quality of the service you may receive.
What you can do
Be aware that cost doesn’t always equate with competence or quality
If a company is too expensive, it doesn’t hurt to ask if the rate can be adjusted somewhat
Think about tutoring not solely as a cost, but as an investment
3. Not paying attention to the personality match
I recently Googled “Boston Tutoring” and got over 700,000 results!! I knew there were a lot of tutors in the area, but come on now.
There are plenty of intelligent people out there, especially in the Greater Boston area, but intelligence doesn’t always translate to tutoring.
Just because someone may be able to solve calculations in their sleep, write a grammatically perfect essay, or have the periodic table memorized, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they can impart that knowledge to a student.
In a classroom, students have no control over whether they click with a teacher, they have to just deal with it no matter what.
With tutoring, that should never be the case. For effective tutoring to take place, attention must be paid to the personality of the student and the tutor.
One of the things I always say to parents is that it’s important that the student thinks their tutor is “cool”. Now, cool is different for each student, so we need to be aware of this.
By paying attention to the personality match, there is a greater chance of a genuine connection forming, which translates into more effective ways to help the student grow, which is the ultimate goal.
What you can do
Think about what kind of personality would work best for your child
Ask what the company does to ensure the tutor is a good match
Make sure you know what happens if the fit doesn’t work
4. Expecting too much
Any time that we use a service, or buy a product, we have an expectation regarding what we should receive.
At a restaurant, we expect good service, well prepared food, and an ambience that correlates with the price. When we bring our car in for service, we expect professionalism, a diagnosis of what’s wrong, and for the issue to be addressed.
We don’t go to a fast food established expecting 5 star cuisine though, and we don’t go to a mechanic expecting that they will do a brake job for $50.
Tutoring is no different. You should know what you’re getting. You should understand the process. You should have expectations. The key is that the expectations need to be reasonable, and they need to be agreed upon.
Obviously, if a student is getting a D in a class, it’s not reasonable to think that they can elevate to an A in one quarter. It may be possible, but it certainly isn’t probable.
What you can do
Make sure you talk to a prospective tutor about your expectations, to make sure there is agreement
Think about expectations that are both short and long term
Ask if there are periodic check-ins to adjust expectations
5. Not having clear goals
When we first meet with a family, we always make sure it’s done in a way that we come away with a great deal of information. That one reason that we sit with parents for a while, and then with the student 1 on 1.
This is the best way to find out what the parents think needs to be addressed, what the strengths and weaknesses are, and what the goals are for the tutoring.
It’s also a great way to find out how the student feels about where they’re at, what their insights are around it, and what goals they have for themselves.
With this information, it’s much easier to move forward with a focussed plan, and do so in a way where everyone is on the same page.
In order for expectations to be reasonable, and ultimately to be reached, it’s important that there be goals in place.
What you can do
Give some thought to what you want the tutoring to achieve
Think about goals that are not only concrete, like grades, but also process related goals such as a student being more self-directed or organized.
Touch base with your daughter or son about what they want to accomplish through tutoring
Don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions, or to talk further about your son or dauughter’s specific needs. We thank you for your time, hope you found this helfpul, and wish you a great school year!