By Renae Abboud
Teachers have a natural ability to teach, just as tutors have a natural ability to tutor. Not everyone can teach or tutor, unless they have an innate aptitude to do so. For parents, finding a tutor who can provide educational support to your child is more than just looking in the newspaper. Parents need to be cautious in choosing the right tutor or company to provide this support. Here are some things to consider when interviewing a tutor or company.
Licensed or Certified
Many parents think these two words mean the same thing. In fact, to be licensed by the state, teachers should have either a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree in education, have passed a certain number of teacher preparation tests, completed student teaching in a school, have a criminal background check and a child abuse record check, and have been fingerprinted. In other words, the teacher who is in the classroom with your child has gone through this process and is licensed to teach according to the state’s Department of Education. Also, ask for a copy of the license. Certified can mean a whole different thing. When a tutor or company states they are certified, you should ask who provided them with a certification. Check up on their education and degree.
You might think that a tutor with a master’s degree is more qualified than one with a bachelor’s degree. However, it will ultimately depend on what the degrees are before a comparison can be made. For example, a tutor with a master in education may not have had a bachelor in education. Their prior degree might have been in math, engineering, or even political science. However there are some teachers who hold a bachelor and a master degree both in the field of education. More questions regarding a tutor’s degree should be asked before understanding how much education training the teacher has gone through.
Tutoring will mostly involve a teacher’s ability to understand how students learn, assess the student’s learning style, and adapt their tutoring sessions based on that individual student, you should ask many questions regarding the tutor’s experience. A teacher who is familiar with the education system will have more to offer due to their vast amount of experience in student learning. Ask detailed questions about the tutor’s experience, considering both classroom and tutoring experience and in how it relates to student learning.
A tutor who states he/she can tutor grades K-12 in all subjects may not be a tutor to hire. Great tutors will be honest regarding their area of specialty. You can find tutors who can teach all subjects K-6. However, the middle and high school teachers generally teach one or two subjects in which they specialize. If your child has a learning disability or is in the school ESOL program, you may need to find a teacher who might specialize particularly in that area. Their expertise and familiarity in the standards of learning and program of studies for your school district is also of valued importance.
Tutors should be not only willing to communicate with all responsible people for your child’s education, but actually make that contact and keep it up. A great tutor is one that communicates often with all educators involved in your child’s education, including counselors and LD or ESOL teachers. Without communication, tutors might be working on areas that are not of significant importance when it comes to the child’s education. It is very important for a tutor to get feedback and provide feedback to the team of people responsible for the student’s day-to-day education.
It is very important to have a tutor who works on skill development and not spend the entire time on homework only. While homework can be the main reason for a tutor, working on skills such as study habits, test-taking skills, organization, etc. will lead the child to be more responsible and allow for more independence.
Finding the perfect tutor is not something you can accomplish in one phone call. Parents should make a few contacts to different tutors or tutoring companies to compare the services they offer. If one particular company or tutor is generously lower in rate than the others, make sure you are getting quality tutoring services from a qualified teacher. Your decision to invest in a tutor for your child is one that will reap benefits to their education. Remember, the match should be based on what is in the best interest of the student, so take your time and consider all of your options.
Renae Abboud, former Fairfax County school teacher, owns a tutoring company. She hires state licensed teachers to provide educational support to students in Fairfax and Loudoun counties.www.rtutoring.com