How to get the most from your child’s tutor

Mark Maclaine

January 31, 2014

So you’ve found your private tutor. But your job doesn’t end there. There are a lot of things you can do to help your child’s tutor do the job well. 

Treat the tutor well. People who are treated well and feel like they can make a difference work harder than someone who doesn’t. So be friendly and make the tutor feel welcome.

Plan with the tutor. After the first lesson, ask the tutor for a basic road map of the work to be covered with your child, to discuss with you before the next lesson. Remember that the very nature of personal tutoring is that it is an organic relationship that develops between a student and a tutor so don’t demand timetables and lesson plans. But do discuss ideal goals over the upcoming lessons such as the topics your tutor hopes to cover.

Ask about preparation. Ask the tutor if there is any work your child could do in preparation for the next lesson, such as practice questions or mini tests. Do remember not to go overboard as your child needs to have free time too. An overload of work is likely to hinder performance.

Show appreciation to the tutor. If your child has made positive comments about the tutor to you, then take the time to share these with the tutor. If you’ve seen some positive effect, then say what a difference you’ve seen. Nothing motivates an employee more than genuine appreciation. This could range from acknowledging the teaching - because you have seen improvements in your child’s work or have received positive feedback from school

- to acknowledging their kind manner, punctuality, positive attitude or even the tutor’s shoes. Just make sure it is genuine and your tutor will feel appreciated.

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Dealing with problems. If there are any concerns you have, I’d encourage you to bring them up with the tutor. Having said this, try to avoid statements that start with “you”, such as “you don’t work hard enough” or “you aren’t making a difference”. Instead, phrase your concerns for what they are, genuine concerns. For example, “I’m concerned that Harry doesn’t seem to be making any progress” then ask them what the tutor thinks. It’s important to remember that sometimes students do take a while to build up confidence before they’re ready to ‘launch’ so take this into account and listen to the tutor. You will help most by working together. That said, if your tutor becomes defensive and there is no progress then it may be time to consider your options. One of these may be to find a new tutor.

Meet some of Tutorfair’s tutors. Click on the picture or name to visit the tutor’s profile page.

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Matthew S - Recent Cambridge graduate passionate about education. Subjects include Maths, Physics and Chemistry

Layo A - An infectious enthusiasm that makes learning engaging. Subjects include English, History and Drama

Stuart M - A fun, supportive academic with years of teaching experience. Subjects include Biology, Chemistry and Physics

Illustration from www.southbaytutors.com CC-by