Friday, April 24, 2009

Selecting a Tutor - Part II

What are your options and how do they differ from each other?

Freelance Private Tutors

  1. They set their own rates which vary greatly depending on how qualified and experienced they are and how much they feel their services are worth. Most of the time, the more experience and the higher their degree the more they charge for their time.

  2. They accept checks and cash upfront or at each session. However, there isn’t usually any accountable method of record keeping on a monthly basis and rarely will a freelance individual accept credit cards.

  3. Their schedules are flexible and they are willing to reschedule make-up sessions.

  4. Most freelance tutors are teachers themselves. If they are a public school teacher then you know the county has run a criminal background check and fingerprint check on them. However, if they are not, be weary of possible past criminal activities. Request a background check.

  5. Most tutors are willing to meet in a convenient location, such as a library or bookstore and some will even travel to your home.

  • – The best thing about Freelance Private Tutors – Most of them are experienced teachers with flexible schedules.

    – The worst thing about Freelance Private Tutors – High hourly rates and dependability. Because they are not held accountable by anyone, they set their own rules.

    – One piece of advice – Ask for (and check!) any potential tutor's employment resume, tutoring references, and copy of a background check.

Learning Centers

  1. There is one rate and there is no haggling. They offer discounting, but only for a large commitment and long contract of service.

  2. Centers have always had great programs for students that are struggling with basic skills and have gaps in understanding concepts. However, if a student is “stuck” in an area of Algebra, Chemistry, or needs help completing an essay, Learning Centers are not suited for short-term tutoring.

  3. Most centers do not have true “one-on-one” tutoring. Most offer small groups of 3-5 students or they “monitor” students who are working on their own.

  4. Tutors are employees and have undergone a criminal background and reference check. However, they are not always teachers and do not necessarily have college degrees.

  5. You have a set schedule and will always have a tutor, but many do not accomodate tardy students or allow make-up sessions. You must schedule your tutoring sessions around their hours of operation.

  6. Travel is required. Private tutors have become popular because of the convenience factor for today's busy families.

  7. Learning Centers require an initial assessment test that last approximately 3 hours and costs roughly $200-$250.

  8. Learning Centers typically require you to purchase a long-term program, be careful what you commit to, a promise to help your child succeed is often a cleverly disguised sales pitch.

  9. Always READ THE FINE PRINT and take time to review the paperwork before you sign their legally binding contract.

  10. Some will finance the tutoring costs and most accept credit cards for payment.

  • – The best thing about Learning Centers – Convenient locations and immediate enrollment.

    – The worst thing about Learning Centers – Convenient locations and immediate enrollment. This is a double-edged sword. Competiton among centers is fierce and they have well developed sales methods. Take the time to make an informed decision before signing anything.

    – One piece of advice – Do not sign a long term contract before knowing without hesitation the amount of tutoring your child needs. You should request a trial period to determine how effective their program will be for your student.

Online Tutoring Services

  1. With this type of tutoring you have the obvious difference of human interaction. Online tutors are not in a position to read body language and other non-verbal cues about a student's attitude. This should not be undervalued, as emotions such as frustration and enthusiasm are often expressed through body language and tone of voice, and being sensitive to these things in a student can greatly affect the outcome of the tutoring session.

  2. Online tutors can be great for answering questions that students have, but their effectiveness may stop there. Because they are unable to easily interact with the materials that students have, online tutors tend to be limited to a question/answer type of interaction. In person tutors do not have this limitation, and can interact more freely with the student and the materials.

  3. Online tutors are generally the cheapest way to get a professional tutor, but depending on the typing efficiency of the student, it may not be cost effective.

  4. This service is very different from the teaching or tutoring your student is used to. Students may need help clearly communicating their needs to an online tutor.

  5. Most services do not offer tutoring for younger students, especially those needing reading or math basic skills.

  • – The best thing about Online Tutoring Services – You can get help almost instantly, at any time of day or night.

    – The worst thing about Online Tutoring Services – Each time your student logs in they receive a different tutor. Having a new tutor each time is like starting over. The student and tutor need time to establish exactly what the student needs help with, review the materials, and develop a rapport... all before any true learning can take place.

    – One piece of advice – Most services offer a trial, take advantage of this to make sure that this newest form of tutoring will really work for your student before you make a commitment.

Private Tutoring Services

  1. Most private tutoring services are competitive in their hourly rates and most are less expensive than Learning Centers.

  2. Some services require their tutors to be certified teachers, some hire college students, and some require a minimum of a college degree. Ask about their tutors' qualifications.

  3. Most services run either a local, state, or nationwide criminal background check. Ask for and verify that it is a NATIONWIDE check, local checks may not show any criminal activity if the tutor is new to the area.

  4. Most services offer in-home tutoring, however at your request, many tutors will meet in a convenient location such as the library. Ask about student age limits and their policies for such.

  5. Most services do not offer special programs. Tutors are available to help the student with their school work only. However, some services do offer an initial assessment test for an additional charge at the parent’s request.

  6. Each private tutoring service is different. Some require a minimum number of hours each month, some require upfront fees on a monthly basis, some actually have a revolving charge on your credit card (beware of these). Some services have no contracts and no contracts very closely and look for hidden charges and missed session policies.

  • – The best thing about Private Tutoring Services –You can always find a tutor for your needs and most services want to keep you as a client and will work hard to do so. They specialize in helping you find a tutor that fits your schedule, your grade level and your subject.

    – The worst thing about Private Tutoring Services – Because they are privately held, each one sets their own policies on everything from tutor qualifications to billing, ask a lot of questions and read everything before you begin tutoring.

    – One piece of advice – Most private tutoring services have a knowledgeable Director or Owner, if you are unsure about something or need specific answers, ask to speak with him or her.

1 comment:

  1. Before determining who will provide the tutoring the parent (or student) needs to select the correct TYPE of tutoring.

    In a nutshell, there are three types of tutoring:
    1. Subject Tutoring – help in a single subject, i.e. chemistry, calculus
    2. Prescriptive Tutoring – help in core skills such as reading comprehension, writing, math, study skills and motivation
    3. Enrichment

    If the child is struggling in school (low grades, behavior or motivation issues), then Prescriptive Tutoring is usually the right choice.

    If the child is only having problems with one subject and the parent knows for certain there are no other issues, then Subject Tutoring is the correct choice. It is very rare for student in K-8th grade to need Subject Tutoring.

    If there are any doubts as to why a child is struggling in school or just a single subject, a complete diagnostic assessment from an accredited learning center should be performed. A diagnostic assessment will provide the parent with facts as to why the student is struggling and what are education best practices to fix it.

    I can’t speak for other learning centers, but I can say this about Huntington Learning Centers:
    1. There are NO contracts. If a parent wants to drop the tutoring, they are free to do so and receive a refund of any unearned tuition. There is no fine print to read.
    2. Only certified teachers. FYI, the standards at Huntington Learning Centers are so high, that Huntington teachers starting this summer will receive CEU’s for the specialized training.
    3. 1-on-1 tutoring in a structured environment. It is Huntington’s policy that students 4th grade and below are instructed ONLY in 1-on-1 settings. 1-on-1 is always an option for older students if needed.

    I do agree that Learning Centers are not always the best place for subject tutoring. Every area has their subject ‘rock star’ tutors in the High School subjects such as calculus and chemistry. Just be sure that the struggle in a single subject is not the canary in the coalmine.