How to find the best tutor for your child

Published: 10 Sep 21
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With what can seem to be an unlimited number of websites advertising tutors, how do you as a parent make sure you have found a great one for your child?

More and more parents are considering tutoring for their families, either to catch up on missed learning or help stretch their children in a way that schools and large classrooms cannot.

But as more families search for the perfect tutor, we hear from many parents about their frustrating experiences working with tutors who don’t fit the bill.

Here is the advice we often talk through with parents to make sure that they find the best tutor for their child.

 

5 signs that you have found a great tutor

 

#1: They are experienced and qualified


It might sound obvious, but you need to make sure your tutor has teaching qualifications (or at the very least is up to date with the latest curriculum) and has direct experience teaching children in your child’s age range in the chosen subject.

Too many people think that anyone can teach a child if they have a qualification in that subject. The truth is that these ‘tutors’ are often unable to teach very well or make a real connection with their students. Teaching is a skill and should not be ‘winged’!

An experienced and qualified teacher makes the best tutor, as they are up to date with the latest curriculum and have real experience teaching children of all ages.

When interviewing a tutor about this, you should cover:

  • What professional teaching qualifications do they have?
  • What experience do they have teaching the subject to your child’s age group?
  • How do they stay up to date with the latest curriculum and exam board updates?

 

#2: They personalise the learning experience


Most tutors will have a big pile of worksheets, textbooks, and other materials they regularly use to teach their students – but beware a tutor who relies only on these things.

A good tutor will use these tools but will also spend time talking to their student and working through the materials with them – asking follow-up questions, checking learnings, and drawing from their own experience to make more relevant examples.

You know you have a good tutor when you can hear an engaging conversation during their lessons, not just silence and pencil scratchings.

When interviewing a tutor about this, you should cover:

  • What you are hoping tutoring will achieve – be specific about goals and aspirations
  • Examples of how they personalise lessons for students
  • How they do an initial assessment of their students and use this to plan lessons

 

#3: They are active listeners


Linked to the above is the fact that to be a good tutor, you need to be a good listener. To create a lesson plan personalised for their student, the tutor needs to first understand how they learn, what their strengths and weaknesses are, and what they are interested in.

Armed with this information, a tutor can then deliver a truly engaging lesson and ensure the learnings are properly understood.

As part of this skill, they should also be able to deliver effective feedback too. By listening to what their student is saying (and not saying), a good tutor should be responding with constructive feedback and follow-up questions to stretch their student.

When interviewing a tutor about this, you should cover:

  • How does the tutor plan on monitoring progress and reporting to you?
  • What approach do they usually take when giving feedback to their students?

 

#4: They are reliable and professional


A tutor who is a good listener will naturally build a strong rapport and relationship with you and their student. But remember that a tutor should be a strong role model, not a friend. They should be knowledgeable about the difference and how to maintain a professional relationship with your entire family.

They should also be setting an example (and making your life easier) through their reliability: specifically through punctuality, manners, and good communication.

Professional teachers are trained in these areas and naturally build positive relationships with their students.

When interviewing a tutor about this, you should cover:

  • Are there any rules for cancellations, communication, safeguarding, etc . And how should communication happen?
  • Expectations around setting work and the amount. Make clear with the tutor if you want them to provide and mark any structured homework

 

#5: They are more than just a tutor


A tutor should be able to deliver more than just a few lessons in a specific subject area. Their aims should always be to grow their students more generally: building their confidence, broadening their horizons, instilling a love of learning, and developing life skills like time management and handling stressful situations like exams.

Finally, we recommend looking for a tutor that is a professional educator. This could be a teacher who offers tutoring in their spare time or a professional tutor with teaching qualifications/experience who tutors as their primary job. These tutors will be up to date and experienced.

We advise families against hiring tutors who are just looking to earn a bit of extra income. They are not invested in being an educator and cannot have the same experience and relevant knowledge that a professional educator will provide.

When interviewing a tutor about this, you should cover:

  • Fees and payment terms (if you need to. If you are working with us, this is agreed in advance)
  • Why they became a tutor and what their favourite thing about being a tutor is

 

Where do you find tutors?

Now that we’ve highlighted some tell-tale signs of a great tutor, the next challenge many parents face is where to find a tutor in the first place.

A quick Google search brings up seemingly endless choices, which can be intimidating, especially when everyone says they are/have the best tutors!

So, where do you start?

 

The problem with reaching out to individual tutors


Many people find individual tutors through the following methods:

  • Personal recommendations
  • Social media (Facebook groups etc.)
  • Finding an individual tutor on Google/Bing/etc.

Working with an individual tutor is often the cheapest method for tutoring as you can agree on fees upfront, and the tutor isn't paying commission to agencies.

But the problem with these options is that you have to reach out to each tutor individually, find out if they are available for and interested in a job, interview them, agree on a fee and payment terms, and then hope that they are as good as they say they are!

This all takes time and, in our experience, leads to a lot of disappointment (the number one complaint parents have about finding a tutor, is finding one who is available in the first place).

These frustrations (and the growth of the tutoring industry generally) inevitably led to online marketplaces of tutors and tutoring agencies.

 

Is there a best tutoring website or agency?


Tutoring websites and agencies have the advantage over individual tutors because they are a one-stop-shop for parents. You sign up once and can access a wide number of tutors through their systems, and fees/guarantees are usually agreed upfront and are transparent.

But again, you may become frustrated trying to identify which tutors are high-quality and which tutors are available and interested in tutoring your child…

Different companies have different approaches, though, and we recommend finding a tutoring company that:

  • Only uses high-quality, experienced, and qualified tutors as standard
  • Is clear upfront about their pricing
  • Has guarantees on lessons or offers introductory calls with their tutors

Teachers To Your Home (that’s us) provides these things, but we also go a step further.

By filling in our teacher search form, we reach out to our teachers for you over 24 hours and send you a shortlist of tutors who are available now, interested in teaching your child, and experienced in teaching that subject and age group.

Fill in our teacher search form now and get your teacher shortlist in 24 hours.

We can find you qualified teachers in your area for home or online tuition