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Home tuition has gained huge popularity with the gradual increasing need for personalised academic guidance. The growing pressure from the schools for outstanding performance, assignment of projects and homework has led to mushrooming of numerous agencies offering quality tutorial classes extending a helping hand to the students. Parents too desire to support and boost their children’s academic development and hence search for the perfect teacher who will be able to guide their kids in the accurate direction, realising their skills and potential and nurturing them accordingly. However, there are several factors parents and students must keep in mind while selecting the best private tutor like age, experience, qualification, reputation, budget etc. However, each family has unique needs, and tutors have many degrees of know-how and caring. So it is important to know what you want, then thoroughly investigate the skill, experience, commitment and personality of the tutor.
1. Know your goals
Ask yourself or your child’s teacher:
a. What level of help do we need? Does my child need homework help, intensive remediation, or something in between?
b. What areas do we want to see the tutor improve: better scores in one subject (English, chemistry); improved general skills (math, reading, science); study skills; motivation?
c. What do I know about my child’s learning style? Does he learn best by reading, listening, moving? Does he do better with men or women? Does he need lots of nurturing or a firm hand? What motivates and interests him?
d. How much time and money can you devote to tutoring? Don’t skimp, but be honest with yourself before you start.
2. Know your options
a. Call your child’s school counsellor or teacher and share your concern. Good counsellors or teachers will have files on her progress throughout her school career, her scores on standardised tests, and notes on possible personality problems.
b. Check out the local paper/Google/online portals. Many good tutors list their credentials there.
c. Ask friends and neighbours for ideas. Retired or “stay-at-home-parent” teachers may be willing to help out. Make sure they know the subject matter you need.
d. Call your local branch of a coaching centre or Home tutors bureau.
Quality vs Price
Unfortunately, price is often the determining factor in choosing a tutor. However, it’s more important to look at value. A more expensive tutor may be a better fit for your child and may be more effective in meeting his/her needs. Don’t rule him out because of his fees. If you can afford, well in good, but if you are financially weak, then do a good research about few more tutors and select the suitable one but never compromise with the quality teaching after a certain limit.
Remember : “Expert tutors are costly, but amateur tutors cost more”
Beyond cost itself, ask:
1. What are your payment policies?
Find out in advance what forms of payment your tutor accepts, and when it is expected. Some tutors accept only cash and require payment at each session. Some will allow you to prepay a month at a time. Others may bill you for completed sessions every month.
2. What are your cancellation policies?
While most tutors are rather flexible, some require 24-hour notice if you’re going to cancel. Learn this information up front to avoid charges down the line.
3. Test your options
Check credentials carefully. Ask questions to see how well their skills match your child’s needs:
o What is your educational background? If the tutor will work on maths, he/she should have at least a college degree in maths. A different education is needed to teach first-grade student.
o What type of teaching experience do you have? Look for a tutor who has worked with students similar in age and ability to your child.
o How do you evaluate each student’s needs? Find out whether the tutor will use standardized tests, school reports, or other forms of evaluation to discover your child’s strengths and weaknesses.
o What tutoring methods do you use? A skilled tutor will do more than just answer questions and do problems with students. He will assess your child’s strengths and weaknesses, prepare individualized materials and use “hands-on” materials wherever possible. He will work hand-in-hand with the classroom teacher, and most of all, give your child a “can-do” attitude and lots of positive reinforcement.
o What do you expect from me? Good tutors need a family’s cooperation. They need parents to contact classroom teachers and ask for cooperation in making tutoring a success: a copy of the textbook they use; a syllabus of their class or subject; any extra worksheets they have that might facilitate the tutorial process.
o How do you motivate your students? Think about what motivates your child, and seek a tutor who uses these methods.
o What hours are you available? This question often makes or breaks a deal. You may have found the perfect tutor, but if she doesn’t fit your schedule you’re out of luck.
o How long do you expect tutoring to last? A tutor can become a crutch, so it’s important to get an estimate of how long it will take to help your child develop the skills and confidence to succeed independently.
o Is there someone I can contact who knows your tutoring skills? You get references for electricians, doctors and dentists. Doesn’t it truly make sense to get a reference for the person who will be working very closely with your child? Hearing what other students and parents have to say about a tutor can be the best way to find out what they might be like.
o What is the range of results you see? How much have other clients improved in the past?
o Do you set homework? Many tutors choose not to add to the workload of a student. However, a small amount of work (or past papers during exam time) can be beneficial. Make sure your tutor knows your child’s homework schedule so that they don’t become overwhelmed with extra work.
4. Partner for results
a. Watch how your child relates to the tutor. Sit in on part of a session if possible. Your child must be comfortable, if you want to see success.
b. Monitor progress. Ask for feedback from your child, and see if your child’s grade gradually improves. If, after several sessions, you don’t see improvement or you feel a negative attitude in your child, move on to another tutor.
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