Wondering what makes a great tutor? Here are insights from the PSP Tweens/Teens group:
"What I look for in a tutor:
1) kindness, warmth, humor
2) subject-matter skill
3) communication with parents and (if needed) school and other helpers (therapists, learning specialists)--TEXTING IDEAL, IN PERSON SESSIONS IDEAL
"I used to think experience was one of the top qualifiers. Now, after hiring an old friend who is not working out as a math tutor for my kid, I realize they learn better from someone who's goofier. As a tutor and employer I appreciate honesty and humor. There are lots of great teachers out there, but not all of them can empathize and laugh with a kid who is struggling. Or a family who is struggling.
I also appreciate boundaries. Tutors need to have cancellation policies and set rates. If they want to relax a policy for a particular family, cool. But this is their income and they need to charge like other highly skilled professionals--for missed sessions, sometimes outside work, and sometimes travel time.
My usual routine was spending about 50 minutes of my hour with the kid and 10 minutes updating the family. When I didn't see family, I'd send a quick email or texts explaining what we did, and what the student needed to work on until the next session. For kids with learning issues that can be very specific: like "write one paragraph on Tuesday and send it to me" specific.
Finally, please don't expect a miracle! Usually my students' grades would increase, but their executive functioning really didn't until they were older. They required support when I wasn't there. If parents weren't open with me about the kids' issues or neurology it made my work a lot harder.
My last point is financial: it is really hard for tutors over the holidays and vacations. Usually they don't make enough under the best of circumstances. What I always wanted was an extra session as a holiday gift. Or an end-of-the-school-year bonus. No one ever gave it to me. Pretty soap is nice but what I needed was cash!
Good luck to us all. My kid is turning out to be a real handful, educationally."
"Having scoured PSP and PoNYTYA recommendations for tutors in a few subject areas in the past year, I'll take a crack at this. The answer really depends on your needs. In our case, we have an older teen at an accelerated high school. We needed to find the right people quickly. So I looked for seasoned tutors with high subject-level expertise as well as a track record of working with students, which likely meant they had an engaging personality. Had our kid been younger and the situation less time sensitive, we could have gone with a more budget-friendly tutoring option and tried out high school or college students. Some tips:
• Have a phone conversation with the tutor first. If you find them engaging, then probably your child will, too.
• For high school math and science in particular, the tutor should ask to see the syllabus. I had one highly recommended tutor tell me after reviewing the syllabus that they would be out of their depth and I appreciated the honesty. So there's an example of a "great" tutor who would not have been the right fit for us.
• Discuss how much flexibility they have in their schedule. It's nice to be able to either move or add a session based on when the next test is in class.
FWIW, I've found experienced tutors run about $150/hour. I've yet to have anyone quote me more than that."
"I found a tutor through another mom’s rave reviews. He is very expensive but he can tutor well in any subject, so he can help with math if that’s been a challenge that week, he can help with Spanish, he can help with writing. He can do test prep (though I haven’t used him for that). Most interesting/helpful to me is that he is also a therapist. So he knows how to deal with my daughter when she’s frustrated or not in the mood. And he can still make it a productive session. Also critical is that he makes the content interesting/fun by providing fascinating facts/examples - so my daughter really enjoys it."
All listed vendors have been recommended by registered Park Slope Parents members.