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Hiring a Math Tutor For Your Child – Tips For Choosing Well
I have to dismiss the painful news from the start.
Many, perhaps most, math tutors are not fully competent in the subject they are teaching.
Is this tutor really competent?
If you are looking for a tutor in mathematics, for example for precalculus, you should ensure that your potential tutor has the course syllabus at hand.
I mention this good manner because over the years I have known many students who get help from tutors who are barely one step ahead of them, or even above their heads.
Facilitate good teacher-tutor communication
Second, you need to facilitate communication with the course teacher. In other words, give the teacher the tutor’s name and number and tell them to call the tutor with specific information about the class and what your child should do.
I say this because too often the math tutor doesn’t know exactly what the course expectations are, or what will be on the upcoming test, or whatever. Often the student is not a clear communicator of this information.
How is math tutoring time used?
Third, you need to make sure the time is well spent. You don’t want to spend an hour gossiping about TV, sports, clothes, piercing or whatever. You want an hour of math!
You will need to assess that your tutor is pleasant and friendly, but also professional and on task.
Does your child work well with the tutor?
There must be an element of chemistry with the tutor and your child. The point of all of this is that you are looking for individual reinforcement for your child, and that won’t happen without good, clear communication. You will need to carefully determine the quality of the tutor.
Find a tutor
How to find one? The best way is to get a recommendation from someone you trust, preferably a math teacher you trust. Can come from another parent or from the school administration.
The more anonymous the source, such as a recommendation from someone who doesn’t know anything about teaching math, or an ad in a newspaper, the more luck you rely on.
And are you sure your child needs a guardian? I believe that a guardian should be much more of a last resort than is often the case. If your child just needs a little reinforcement or repeated explanations, maybe the class teacher is available for that. Or an older brother, or you could.
I think that kind of help is part of a teacher’s job and can also be a healthy family task. If your child just needs a hand to do their homework, they may need some guidance to do their work independently. Perhaps in such a case, a tutor is helping a child with a lack of self-employment habits, rather than helping him.
If your child needs regular help in a class, they may just be in a class that is too advanced. I would encourage some sort of assessment of the situation, a discussion with the teacher or a school official.
If your child is on a track that requires fourth-grade tutoring just to keep up, you need to ask yourself if it’s in their best interest to always run from behind to keep up. If the tutor’s reason is the teacher’s incompetence, I encourage you to inform the school administration.
How to pay
How often and what should you expect to pay? Although often tutoring is once a week for 45 minutes or an hour, if your child really needs help, I think twice a week is a minimum. If there’s a problem, I don’t see what you can do in less time than that other than put out a fire immediately.
Costs range from $10 or $12/hour for a high school student to over $100/hour for an experienced tutor in a major metropolitan area. In general, you should expect a higher rate for higher levels of instruction and a more experienced and educated tutor. However, there is a lot of variation in the market: I personally know people in my area who are very good and charge around $40/hour, and some who are really not bad and charge closer to $70/hour.
I think you should have in mind what you are willing to pay and ask for before you start; if the tutor wants more, keep looking. The main thing is that you get valuable tutoring. If you find a “good deal” but the tutoring doesn’t really help your child, you’re just wasting your time and money, as well as your child’s.
Good luck and happy math class!
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