How to Work Successfully with a Tutor
The first time I walked into a student’s house to work with him felt weird. First, I was only working with one kid, not thirty. In fact, I would eventually know him better than any student I had ever taught.
And it was all so intimate. I knew what the family was having for dinner. I sat at the kitchen table and used their bathroom, for goodness’ sake! His mother and I were on a first-name basis. For someone who taught in the classroom for a long time, it was . . . disconcerting. I can only imagine how it felt for the family!Working with a tutor can feel strange in the beginning. Click To Tweet
Working with a tutor can feel strange in the beginning. Unlike the classroom teacher, the tutor is working one-on-one with your child and is being directly paid (by you!) for that work. Often, that tutor is coming into your home each and every week. You, not the teacher or school, are deciding what the tutor will work on with your child.
And frankly, you’re not exactly sure how to navigate this new relationship. Let me help!
How to Work Successfully with a Tutor
Honesty really is the best policy. As a parent, you need to be upfront about your child’s needs and challenges. Most tutors will ask if your child has any learning disabilities- please let them know. If your child can only focus for short period’s of time or needs gamified teaching, tell the tutor. Just letting the tutor fly blind is bad for your child and the tutor.
Also, if you have a limited amount of time or money, be upfront! I will teach differently if I only have 4 sessions vs. 8.
Set goals or targets
Decide what you want your child to get out of tutoring and how that will be measured. Better grades? Higher reading level? More organized? While the first 2 goals are easily measured, the last one not so much. Make sure that the tutor knows exactly what you want and can work toward that.Make sure that the tutor knows exactly what you want and can work toward that.Click To Tweet
When will you measure these goals? For most families, it’s at the end of the marking period. But it could also be when the child takes the SAT or AP exam.
If you’re not sure what those goals should be or how to get there, this would be a good time to bring the classroom teacher into the conversation. He or she can shed some light on your child’s difficulties and give you some ideas for tutoring goals.
Keep communication open
Be sure that you know the tutor’s contact information and they know yours. How do you and how does the tutor prefer to communicate – email, text, phone? What time of day is best to initiate contact, especially if you’re calling. For teens, it is OK if the tutor directly contacts your child via text or email? (I send reminders and kids ask me questions.)
Additionally, the tutor may need to contact the classroom teacher or teachers. School staff can only legally discuss your child’s progress with you. To talk to an outside tutor or therapist requires parent permission, usually in writing. For that reason, many tutors will have parents sign a release form. I would also give the teacher a heads up and pass along the tutor’s contact information.
The tutor should provide regular updates on your child’s tutoring. Most give a small update at the end of each session, either in person or in writing. (I update a Google Doc that is shared with the parents.) If you’re not hearing from the tutor, reach out to him or her to set up a schedule.
Change doesn’t come overnight. It took time for problems to develop and it will take time for them to go away. You want to look for upward momentum in grades, changing work habits, and your child’s increased confidence. If you’re concerned that improvements are taking too long, please talk to the tutor.
This relationship can take time to develop! But a good working relationship benefits your child, so keep at it!