Tutoring will be a learning experience for you as much as your kids. Done right, it’s an enlightening, potentially grade-saving learning experience.
By approaching tutoring with the right set of expectations and goals, you and your students will get more out of your experience in less time, and for less money. Here are some tried-and-true foundations of private tutoring that can help you and your family make the right call for your unique needs.
1. Tutoring Is A Relationship You Won’t Need Forever
The single most important thing to remember about tutoring is that a good tutor puts themself out of a job: the goal of a private tutor (any educator, really) is to create self-sufficient students.
Obsolescence is built into the tutoring job description. From promoting different or improved communication styles and lessening peer pressure, to establishing a deep understanding of your student’s academic, social, and even professional goals, great tutors are deeply invested in success…whatever form it takes.
This investment, though, also extends to the understanding that, once concepts are locked in and their student feels confident, lessons will end. This can be a relief to many parents; tutoring isn’t a perpetual expense.
So when should tutoring end?
When you first start working with a tutor, ask them to provide you with an assessment. Most tutors will arrive at your first meeting ready with all the materials and info you’ll need to make an informed decision, including how many lessons may be appropriate, but make sure to talk with your student beforehand about their goals, challenges, and areas of opportunity.
Use those as the cornerstone of your tutoring plan.
The right private tutor for your family will be able to provide detailed information so you can track how your child is progressing. Don’t forget to consider scheduling regular check-ins with your tutor; often, a short post-lesson chat can yield loads of insight into how lessons are going. Talk with your kids about how they’re feeling, improving, and learning.
And a good rule of thumb: ask your child’s tutor to tell you when it’s time to begin decreasing the number of lessons, and when it’s time to end.
2. Improved Grades Are An Effect of Tutoring, But Not The Only Benefit
Until your student is equipped with the right emotional and behavioral tools of confidence and study skills, you’re putting the proverbial cart before the horse if you’re focusing solely on grades and test scores.
There are two basic things that successful students possess: confidence and study skills. Individualized attention from a private tutor fuels both of these by:
Addressing gaps in your child’s abilities to process and retain information.
In terms of school- and grade-related learning, between point A (being taught) and point Z (testing) there are countless obstacles which need to be managed and averted. Many of those aren’t addressed in a classroom setting, because teachers have too many students to provide in-depth, one-on-one help to each of them.
Every student has different strengths and weaknesses, and this means differentiated instruction can lead to quicker and longer-lasting results. Customized tutoring programs, built specifically to address your own student’s, help ensure that learning is happening in a way that works…and sticks.
Giving students a non-judgmental environment where it’s OK to make mistakes.
The one-on-one dynamic of private tutoring means there’s less pressure. With a tutor, it’s much easier to learn, because the experience is designed to foster understanding through whatever means work best for the student…even just making necessary mistakes on the way to understanding.
That builds confidence quickly and organically.
As confidence grows, a student is more inclined to take on bigger challenges and apply the “soft skills” tutoring helps improve, like contextual thinking, critical reading, and communication, to other subjects and situations.
With tutoring, you’ll likely see progress in grades and test scores, yes, but the real goal is to set your student up for lifelong success, even if a specific subject or low grade seems like an insurmountable problem today.
3. Parent-Tutor Communication Is a Must
You’re often navigating deep waters as a parent in your relationship with your kids. The tutor you hire has one important goal besides providing expert, customized instruction: providing accountability.
As a parent, it’s important to keep an open dialogue with your kids’ tutor. Not only does letting your private tutor know what to expect of your child’s behavior, current level of understanding, and challenges at the very start give them ample time to assess and prepare – it establishes trust right from the beginning. Continued cooperation along the way only enhances how effective tutoring can be for your student.
Most importantly, it prevents the waste of time and money that comes from heading down a road of dead-end techniques, ineffective lessons, and lost confidence.
Tutors are educators, instructors, study buddies, coaches, mentors (the list goes on) and fill a different role than school teachers or parents. This puts them in a most unique position to support students in ways that are genuinely most effective for them on an individual level. It also provides an opportunity for deeper understanding for parents, and even a new way to connect with your kids and their learning experiences.
4. You’ll Need To Trust The Process
It’s not easy to hear, but creating an independent student sometimes means keeping your distance as a parent. You might have to see your student struggle a little before you can see them reach success, but it’s worth it.
Start by creating a dedicated, neutral study space for your student, preferably somewhere out of earshot. Give them the space they need to fully connect with their tutor and materials during a lesson.
If your child is a teenager and ready for a little more independence and responsibility, you can take it one step further by letting your teen schedule and manage their own lessons. This is a great way to show older students that their education is something they are in control of; just make sure you have a mutual understanding of goals, budget, and other factors before.
And, just as you’ll check in with your tutor every so often, schedule a “how’s it going” chat with your kids. Creating this space for honest conversation, helpful to both you and your student, is just as important as finding and providing tutoring help in the first place.
5. Private Tutoring Isn’t School (And That’s Good)
You might not expect to see your child dancing while conjugating in Spanish, or using iPad games to conquer math problems, but tutoring isn’t always what you expect.
Successful tutors find the most engaging and effective ways to communicate information to their students in a way that they can grasp. They meet them at their level of understanding and start building up from there. That’s the big difference between tutoring and the traditional classroom.
It’s a simple concept, really: if a student enjoys learning, learning will be easier.
Tutoring isn’t classwork. There aren’t hard and fast rules – no sitting down for hours, hand raising, solo study, or peer pressure. It’s possible those weren’t working for your kids if you’re seeking private tutoring in the first place. Something different – more individualized, less pressurized – might be just what your child needs to succeed.
6. “Private” Doesn’t Mean “Expensive”
Wyzant currently lists over 60,000 active independent tutors, and they all set their own hourly rates. The full range of hourly rates starts at $10, and the average cost for a lesson is around $35/hour.
For the 10 most popular subjects on Wyzant, there are hundreds of great tutors available for $25/hr or less in every one. And they’re all backed by our Good Fit Guarantee, so you can try tutoring risk-free.
Unlike on other tutoring websites, which require upfront payment and assign you a member of a teaching staff or just pick a tutor for you, on Wyzant, you choose your own tutor. That means you control the expense and who you work with. Try reaching out to tutors whose profiles may seem out of your price range; many are more than happy to negotiate a lower rate.
Tutoring can sound like a big cost from a strictly dollars-and-cents perspective, but consider what a few hours of tutoring can help your student achieve:
- Better grades
- Concrete study skills
- Improved GPA
- Comprehensive understanding
- Increased confidence
It’s difficult to put a price on those. They may be worth considerably more than any tutor charges.
Private tutoring is a monetary and emotional investment. It has the potential to change the way your student sees school, and in some cases, even the world.
By preparing yourself and approaching the tutoring journey as your own learning experience, it’s an investment that pays off many times over.