November 10, 2013

How do I go about finding the right tutor for my child?

First and foremost, you are an expert on your child and with the help of your child’s teacher(s) you have a great deal of information that  can help you find your child a great fit with the right tutor. Of course, you need to understand what your child’s exact needs are – does he need a subject-specific tutor (a reading tutor, math tutor, test prep tutor) or does he need help improving his executive function skills? If your child’s teacher says he is having trouble with decoding, a program such as Orton-Gillingham or a tutor with training specifically in reading would be an appropriate one to engage. Likewise, if your child is struggling with algebra or working with fractions, a math tutor would be a good fit. But if your child needs help with his organization, breaking down of directions and understanding what is being asked of him, or needs help improving his study skills, then a tutor trained in boosting executive function skills would be a better match than a subject tutor.

You may also choose to get your child’s perspective on what he feels he needs. As we noted in this week’s Tip of the Week, if you see your child struggling, it is sometimes all too easy to assume you know what the problem is. Take a moment to ask your child what he thinks is going on and then listen carefully to the answer. By asking your child what he thinks is going on and how he thinks the issue might best be addressed, you are not only letting your child know that you value his opinion but you are helping him create a greater sense of control over his own life. 

As far as finding a good personality fit, give it a few sessions with a new tutor before you make a decision in that regard. If your child is reluctant to go to tutoring in the first place, it may take him a little while to warm up to even the most engaging tutor. The relationship between a tutor and his student, like all important relationships, takes time to build trust and companionability.