As students, at some point, most of us encounter a subject that we just don’t get. You’ve probably felt that sinking feeling when, no matter how hard you try, the information is not clicking with you. This lack of understanding may make you feel anxious and even ready to give up. It may take a toll on your self-confidence. After all, it seems like others in the class are “getting it”, so why can’t you?
It’s not always your fault. People learn differently. Instructors and professors have unique teaching styles. Sometimes their methods of teaching just don’t resonate with you.
As parents, we want to make sure our children have every advantage when it comes to academics. When you child struggles, you may feel like you did something wrong. Or there is a problem with the educational system. Instead of pointing fingers, there is a more proactive way to handle these situations.
So what’s the solution for struggling students and worried parents? Many find tutors a valuable resource for helping students get back on track.
Have you ever considered a tutor for yourself or your child? You probably have a lot of questions. What makes a great tutor? How can they actually help? Where can I find an experienced tutor? Use this guide to learn more about tutoring and how it can positively impact someone’s academic future.
What is a Tutor?
Tutors provide an opportunity to learn outside the classroom. They use their knowledge and experience to help others discover ways to learn and master particular subjects. Many tutors are older than their students and have proven expertise in the subject they teach. Some tutors, however, are other students or peers who may have a better understanding at the specific issues current students face.
Some tutors work independently hired by parents or even the individual. Other tutors are employed by schools, libraries, or community organizations as a resource for struggling students.
How do Tutors Help?
When you enlist the help of a tutor, it is not to get someone to do your work for you. Instead, a tutor is an ally in helping you understand the concepts giving you or your child difficulties. During a session, you can expect a tutor to:
- Identify a student’s individual learning styles
- Suggest alternative learning strategies with unique assignments and projects
- Review class materials and lessons
- Discuss difficulties with a particular subject
- Answer questions and help with problem solving
- Review assignments and provide feedback
- Monitor progress and provide positive reinforcement
- Communicate with teachers and (when applicable) parents regarding progress
As you could see, a tutor is part of a valuable support network when students are struggling. Effective tutors are more than just someone spending extra time going over a subject. They form a clear line of communication among all interested parties to make sure a struggling student has all his or her needs met.
Where to Find a Tutor
Luckily, there are several ways you can find a tutor for yourself or child. Some are offered as free or low cost services through schools, libraries, or community organizations. You can also find tutors online through search results or websites. In fact, you can even post a job where tutors come to you. Of course, with all these options, you may wonder what some of the best resources are for finding a tutor. Here are a couple ideas:
- Ask a teacher. You or your child’s teacher may know a qualified individual willing to help out after hours.
- Get advice from other families. You’re not the only one seeking extra educational help. Sometimes a family down the block knows an excellent resource for tutoring.
- School resource center. If you’re in high school or college, the school may be able to connect you with a peer tutor who gets paid by the school in a work study program.
- Local library. Some libraries offer tutoring programs using trusted individuals with a track record for helping others.
- Online. These days you can find just about anything online. Of course, you won’t find any shortage of tutors. Make sure you do your research and check references so you find a reputable tutor.
- Tutoring services. There are actually companies dedicated to helping students excel in academics. This may be a little more costly than some of the other options, but consider it an investment for a positive academic future.
The following are some popular tutoring companies:
Qualities of an Excellent Tutor
When it comes time for choosing a tutor, you want to make sure it is a person that resonates with you or your child. After all, you don’t want to waste time and money seeking additional assistance that ends up being ineffective. So what should you look for when choosing a tutor? Here are some ideas:
Your tutor needs to have the ability to see the world through you or your child’s eyes. Empathic tutors have an intuitive sense of how others learn and develop educational sessions that are effective and successful. In addition, they teach in a way that is not condescending or undermining a student’s self-confidence.
Knowledge of the Subject Matter
Do you want an English major teaching you Calculus? Probably not. Check your tutor’s background make sure they excel in the subject causing you difficulties.
Many tutors work as a side-hustle to augment their income. So if you ask someone how many years they’ve tutored, it might not mean anything. For example, if someone tutors an hour a week for a year, that only accounts for less than a week and a half of full-time work. Have them estimate how many hours they tutor in a year to get a better idea of their experience.
The Ability to Keep You (Or Your Child) Engaged
A tutor blandly reciting facts or methods won’t be effective. Look for creative individuals who know how to make a topic exciting and engaging. Excellent tutors understand how people learn and they harness a person’s strengths to overcome challenges. When you find a tutor like this, you have a keeper.
A tutor can be a valuable asset in your educational future. Don’t hesitate to ask for help. Many struggling students were thankful for the guidance of a great tutor.