Choosing a tutor: Who are you looking for?
These days many people are offering their services as tutors ranging from A’ level and university students, teachers, teaching assistants, trained tutors and subject experts.
Each of these categories will have their own advantages and disadvantages. As always, these following points are very generic, but they will give you some initial considerations.
A lot of parents are put off by the idea of another “child” teaching their child.
However, they often charge considerably less. They are often still living at home or doing it as a side-line to subsidise their studies.
Another consideration to take is that many of them have just completed the same syllabus themselves. They are aware of the curriculum and what the examiners are looking for. They are confident about recommending effective revision techniques, focusing on what worked or didn’t work for them.
They can also empathise with the pressures on those sitting exams.
The negative considerations that you might want to take into account is that a child may not concentrate or take instructions as favourably from someone not much older than themselves.
It is also highly unlikely that they have any formal training in teaching others.
For a lot of parents this would be their first choice and understandably so.
Qualified teachers are taught how to teach and have an in-depth knowledge of the subject.
However, when I first started tutoring it was pointed out to me that teachers are often taught to teach in a specific way. If this way is not effective for the student in the classroom, will they benefit from this same approach in their own home.
Another consideration is teachers are accustomed to working with the majority. The pressures they are under these days: extensive curriculum, growing class sizes and increasing demands from OFSTED mean they have little alternative. If your child doesn’t fall into the category of “the average” child, check what resources the teacher would implement to support your child.
Finally, if they are a teacher at your child’s school, check what type of relationship they have with your child.
Over the years I have found that teaching assistants make fantastic tutors.
They are familiar with the curriculum and working either one to one or with small groups of students. They are often responsible for explaining things from different angles so that the child is better place to understand the subject.
However, teaching assistants often only work with one-year group and may not feel comfortable to move on with your child at the end of the academic year. This is something you will need to establish from the outset.
These individuals are those who either have qualifications, work experience or both based around this subject. Their subject knowledge will be in depth.
Like the students these tutors do not have training in teaching others, their asset is their subject knowledge.
Another consideration to make is to ensure that although they have an in-depth subject knowledge, can they share this knowledge with others. It has been evident on many occasions over the years of employing tutors, that often those with the highest qualifications and best subject knowledge struggle the most to explain the foundations to other people. Why? Because it is often harder to explain to someone else something that seems like common sense to yourself.
Often those who have had to research the foundations to come to grips with it themselves, are better placed to explain them to others.
Some tutoring companies require their tutors to complete a certain level of training.
By doing this it means that the tutors will have certain level of knowledge in supporting individual learning styles and teaching, along with their own personal subject knowledge. This may be a positive compromise between some of the options listed above.
If you want a chat about choosing a tutor, do get in touch. We promise to give you our best possible, impartial advice: