21st October, 2021

What Should You Look For When Choosing an Online Tutor?

By Kirstan N

There are lots of online tutors out there, 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.
  • How quickly 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 do they have?

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.

Just as 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, so you'll need to find a balance between experience level and how much you’re willing to pay.

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 find 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 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. As all lessons are online, the fee the tutor charges is all you'll pay - there are no commuting costs to worry about.

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?

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.

Luckily, our first-lesson guarantee means that if you didn't click with the tutor, we'll help you find another one - and even pay for the first lesson!

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.

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

Best of luck finding a tutor!

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