6th August, 2019

What Should You Look For When Choosing a Tutor?

By Joe D

There are lots of tutors out there, and so choosing the right one for your child can be a bit of a minefield.

It’s important that you choose the right tutor for your child, otherwise they won’t enjoy their lessons and they won’t learn as effectively.

With that in mind, here are some things you should look for when choosing a tutor for your child.

  • How much experience the tutor has.
  • Where the lessons will be based.
  • How quick the tutor responds to messages.
  • What the reviews say about the tutor.
  • How much the lessons will cost.
  • What your child thinks about the tutor.

How much experience have they got?

Generally speaking, there are two factors that affect the capabilities of a tutor.

One is how much experience they have with the subject matter. The other is how much experience they have with tutoring. Both of these are important considerations.

Subject-relevant experience can differ greatly from tutor to tutor. For in-depth subjects, like A-Level Physics for example, a high level of knowledge is required. You would expect tutors to at least be educated to the same level they are teaching, if not higher.

A lack of relevant experience may mean they aren’t able to answer all the questions your child has, and may only cover some topics superficially.

For less academic subjects, experience may not be as big a factor. If your child wants to learn beginner piano, for example, a tutor with a few years of playing experience may be knowledgeable enough for them to get started.

Perhaps more important is how much experience the tutor has with teaching.

Whilst knowledge of a subject is obviously important, being able to pass that knowledge on is crucial for a successful tutor.

Naturally, the more experience a tutor has with teaching, the more they understand the nuances involved with the job. They’ll be able to explain things better, and will be able to make your child feel more comfortable.

Of course, more experienced tutors tend to charge more, and so you need to find a balance between experience level and how much you’re willing to pay.

Where are they based?

person holding map tutor locations

Much like buying a house, choosing a tutor is all about location, location, location.

Clearly you want to find a tutor that’s as close to you as possible. You might feel that you’re happy to travel right now, but will you still feel the same a few months down the line? Probably not.

Generally, the closer the tutor, the less time you’re going to spend ferrying your child back and forth.

This is great for you as a parent, but it also helps your child. A long journey may make them restless or tired, and this can have a negative impact on their learning.

Tutorful will show you the closest matching tutors when you look for a tutor.

It’s also worth noting that an increasing number of parents are opting for online tutoring.

Online tutoring is more convenient. Your child can learn from the comfort of their own home, and they may well concentrate better.

Online tutoring also increases the number of eligible tutors, so that you don’t have to compromise on other factors like experience or cost.

Tutorful’s online tutoring platform offers a comprehensive learning experience, complete with video calling, screen sharing, and an interactive whiteboard.

How responsive are they?

When you first reach out to message a tutor, you should take note of how quickly they respond.

It’s important to have a tutor who will respond quickly. If you needed to cancel or reschedule a lesson, a responsive tutor would be better able to accommodate you.

Often, a responsive tutor will be more open to answering the odd questions that your child may have about their work. Obviously, you don’t want your child to be kept waiting for too long.

When we list matching tutors for you on Tutorful, we actually show you how long it normally takes a tutor to respond. This encourages our tutors to respond quickly.

We recommend finding a tutor who responds in a matter of hours. Any time over a day (unless there’s a really good reason) is probably a little too long.

Do they have good reviews?

good review for tutor

One of the best ways of seeing whether a tutor is a good fit or not is by checking through their reviews.

This means you can use other people’s experiences to help you make a decision, rather than relying on the tutor’s own Tutorful profile.

It goes without saying that the better the reviews, the more you should consider that tutor.

It isn’t always about the quality of the reviews, however. The number of reviews is also important. A tutor with one 5-star review might not actually be as good as a tutor with ten 4-star reviews.

Also remember to take reviews with a pinch of salt. Generally, people only leave a review if they’ve had an extremely good experience, or if they’ve had the worst possible experience.

That means reviews only tell you part of the story.

Despite this, it’s well worth reading through the reviews for each tutor before you make your final decision.

Plus, we also recommend reaching out to tutors you’re interested in and having a quick chat. This way you can understand the context of the reviews, and get a real feel for the person.

Do they fit your budget?

Chances are you have a figure in mind for how much you want to spend on a tutor for your child.

In most cases, we recommend that you stick to that budget. Tutoring can be a long-term commitment, and so it’s important not to stray over your budget. Even the smallest increases can soon add up over time.

Tutorful clearly shows you how much tutors charge per hour. If you’re going to be travelling to the tutor, then you also need to factor fuel costs into your budget.

Having said that, if you have your heart set on a certain tutor but they come in just over your budget, perhaps you could consider making sacrifices in other areas?

An alternative you might want to consider is online tutoring. Online tutoring has several benefits, including the fact that your child can work from the comfort of their own home. But it also often works out a little cheaper, due to the lack of travel both on your part and for your tutor.

What does your child think?

child reading map

Ultimately, while you might be doing the organising and paying, your child is the one doing the learning. The choice should lie with them.

If possible, arrange for an introductory lesson which you can sit in on. You can then use this opportunity to observe the tutor and see if they’re a good match for your child.

There are a couple of things to look out for during the first lesson.

One: Does their teaching style suit your child? Cast your mind back to when you were at school, and you can probably think of some teachers you got on with well, and others you truly hated. That’s because we all learn in different ways.

Well, it turns out teachers teach in different ways too. Sometimes those styles match, and a positive learning experience is the result. Other times, they clash, and things don’t work out.

If there is a clash of styles, then your child isn’t going to enjoy learning, and the tutoring won’t be effective. If this is the case, then you should definitely consider finding a different tutor.

Two: Do they understand your child’s needs? Every child is unique. Some need more support than others. Some need encouragement, some need a degree of independence. You know your child better than anyone, but sometimes tutors fail to recognise what your child needs.

This first lesson enables you to see whether the tutor understands your child, and is able to provide them with the exact level of support and encouragement they need.

After the introductory lesson, sit down with your child and ask them what they thought. Encourage them to be honest. Ask them if they got on with the tutor, whether they learnt anything useful.

It’s crucial that your child is comfortable with their tutor. If they aren’t, then it’s time to look elsewhere.

Final Thoughts

There are a number of things you need to look for when choosing a tutor. It’s well worth taking the time to do your research upfront before you dive in and make the decision.

Choosing the wrong tutor can have an adverse effect on your child, setting them back further with their studies.

Fortunately, Tutorful makes it easy to find the right tutor for your child. We’ll show you their location, cost, experience, and reviews. You can then use this information to make your choice.

Fill in the form below and we’ll get back to you with your best matches.

Best of luck finding a tutor!

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