Abby Slutsky has a M.Ed., and has substitute taught and tutored for more than 12 years.
The Rise of Private Tutors
Over the years, homeschooling and using private tutors have become popular. Whether students need extra reinforcement or parents prefer a more personalized teaching approach than the traditional classroom, hiring a tutor or teacher can be a wonderful way to ensure that your child learns effectively.
Sometimes parents hire a tutor or teacher through a tutoring service, but many parents prefer to screen a tutor themselves. Frequently, they can find a more reasonably-priced tutor by doing their own legwork. Nevertheless, advertising for a tutor is only the first step. Once you start getting candidates, you need to ask them the correct questions to determine whether you want to hire them.
If children from more than one family expect to use the tutor, decide whether all the parents will meet the teacher or whether one parent will conduct the interview. Even if only one parent initially conducts an in-person interview, other parents may want to talk to the final candidates via the Internet or phone.
1. What are your qualifications?
Qualifications can extend beyond any degrees or certifications the teacher or tutor might have. Find out whether the candidate has taught other children in this age group. Share any learning issues or concerns you might have about your child, and ask whether the tutor has encountered those issues and his strategies for handling them.
2. What is your teaching style?
As the teacher discusses his teaching style, you may want to share how your child best learns. Some teachers lecture; others like to engage children in hands-on activities. Many teachers use a combination of activities to keep children interested in learning. Ask the teacher to give an example of how he would teach something (For example, fractions).
3. Do you have any strategies for motivating children?
Children can become bored easily. If the tutor will be tutoring or teaching for multiple hours, it is important that he keep the children engaged. What will the tutor do if your child starts to lose interest?
4. Do you have clearances and references?
Whether your child is receiving tutoring in your home or elsewhere, you want to be certain that you review up-to-date background checks that confirm that he is not a criminal or abusive to children.
Contacting references can help you ascertain that the tutor was engaging and effective in helping past clients learn. Do not forget to ask about the tutor's reliability.
5. How will you evaluate my child's progress?
If your child is receiving tutoring in conjunction with virtual classroom instruction, it is likely that he will take tests or complete projects that will monitor his progress. However, the tutor will want to assess his progress before he completes these activities.
Common ways to assess student progress include informal observations, tests or projects, and student self-assessment. It is likely that the tutor will discuss all three methods.
6. How will you keep me up-to-date on my child's progress?
Tutors and teachers will spend a lot of time outside of the tutoring session preparing lessons. At the same time, parents will be trying to work, run a household, and ensure that their children are successfully learning. Given everyone's time constraints, it is important to discuss the method and frequency of keeping you informed of your child's progress.
7. Are you familiar with my district's standards for teaching?
Most public schools align their curriculums with state standards. It is essential that the tutor is familiar with the content that your school is teaching so that he can create lessons that support the curriculum.
8. Will you bring any games or materials to enhance your lessons?
Manipulatives, visual props, books, and other materials can stimulate learning and enhance comprehension. Ask the teacher to describe some materials they have used to promote learning.
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9. How will we handle canceled sessions?
Sometimes tutors will want to get paid if cancellations are not made within a specific timeframe. Other tutors will prefer to reschedule the sessions. The flexibility of your child's time and the tutor will help dictate the policy.
10. What safeguards will you use to ensure my child is safe?
If you are using a tutor to supplement virtual learning during COVID-19, you may want to ask about the tutor's willingness to wear a mask or face shield, and whether your children will wear one. Would the teacher be willing to have a noncontact temperature reading at the start of the session?
The tutor may have questions about illness. Will both the teacher and the student cancel the session if one of them is sick? This sounds silly, but in reality, a tutor does not want to jeopardize his job by canceling if he is sick, and in non-COVID times, parents often send sick children to school, so they can work. These concerns should be addressed before you hire a candidate.
11. Would you be willing to collaborate with my child's teacher?
If you are hiring a tutor to motivate your child or provide supplemental education to virtual learning, ask the tutor if he is willing to talk to your child's teacher, as needed. Together the teacher and the tutor can find strategies to help your child excel.
12. If you are teaching multiple children of different grade levels, how will you keep them engaged?
Parents may hire one teacher to teach multiple children who are in different grades. It may be challenging for the teacher to balance his time while teaching both children. See what strategies he intends to use.
13. If you are teaching multiple children, and a child misbehaves, how will you handle it?
Class management is a part of classroom teaching. In a small group, it can still be an issue. In elementary classrooms, teachers use timeout or loss of free play. Make sure that the teacher's management style seems acceptable to you.
14. Would you be willing to meet with my child before I make a final decision?
Even if the tutor does not conduct a sample tutoring session, watching the way the tutor interacts with your child can help you decide if he would be a good fit. Your child may be spending a lot of time with the tutor, so an introduction can be helpful for the tutor and the child.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Abby Slutsky
Abby Slutsky (author) from America on August 31, 2020:
Thanks for reading.
Marlene Bertrand from USA on August 31, 2020:
These are all excellent questions. One question I never would have thought to ask is Question #14. Yet, when I think about it, that is, in my mind, one of the most important questions because meeting with the child would certainly help the tutor answer many of the other questions.
Abby Slutsky (author) from America on August 10, 2020:
Thanks for reading.
Abby Slutsky (author) from America on August 08, 2020:
Thank you. Yes, I think it is challenging to find someone good It sounds like you had a good viisit.
Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on August 08, 2020:
I think your list of considerations when hiring a tutor or a teacher are quite good. It is important to get a quality teacher for your children.
My granddaughter is a fourth grade teaher and just spent a couple of days with us. In addition to all the things they do to prevent the virus from spreading, she has several ways to calm children down. I was so impressed with some of the things she talked about and I think she is a good teacher.
Danny from India on August 07, 2020:
I always read your articles. They are really interesting.
Abby Slutsky (author) from America on August 07, 2020:
Thanks for reading.
Danny from India on August 07, 2020:
Very useful for students and parents alike. Nice article Abby. There should be a wavelength between students and teachers, then only the discussion proves productive.