Over the past couple of years, I have employed tutors to assist my kids with areas they need extra support. I’ve realised there are certain things that I look for in a tutor, depending on the child and their needs, and I thought I would share my thoughts here.
What age to start tutoring?
I currently have three children in high school and one child in primary school. When my children were in primary school, I considered investing in a tutor for some of my kids. However, after discussing this with my paediatrician, I reconsidered. His advice was to think about whether the child has the capacity after a full day of school. It’s so important for young children to have downtime to play and relax. After I thought about it, I felt it wasn’t wise to increase workload in primary school. However, again, this can really depend on the child and family situation.
For example, my sister has someone come to her home to sit with her primary school son to support him with homework. This works brilliantly. So rather than tutoring, it’s general support for homework which I think can work really well for primary school kids.
I appreciated the paediatrician’s wisdom and I believe the child’s emotional and mental well-being (rather than academic achievement) needs to be central to the decision on whether it’s valuable to invest in tutoring (or not) for younger children.
Why get a tutor?
For my high school children, tutoring has been absolutely invaluable and I highly recommend it, even if the child isn’t struggling with a particular subject. Our family has moved many places and for the majority of my parenting life, I have had little or no physical family support. I have found it’s important to build your own support networks for your family life (and don’t feel guilty about doing so).
Another benefit of having a tutor is this: for the teen years, I have found it valuable to take myself out of the equation as much as possible. I don’t mean move myself out of the relationship (at all!), but rather I avoid being the middle-person or enforcer.
My kids have also found having a tutor beneficial. Having a dedicated time for them to sit with someone (other than mum or dad) is really helpful and I have seen their marks improve because of it.
In general, it’s just really great to have other people in your family life supporting you and your children!
Types of tutors
There are four main types of tutors:
- Teachers – working full-time or part-time
- Ex-students – from a particular subject/course
- Uni students – looking for part-time work
- Specialists – Occupational Therapists, education/rehabilitation specialists
How much does it cost?
This is a general guide from my own experience. Price tends to depend on the qualifications of the person tutoring, the subject they are teaching (e.g. year 12 might be more expensive than year 9) and the duration of the sessions.
- Low (uni students) – $25-$35 an hour
- Med (teachers) – $30-$50 an hour
- High (specialists) – $80+ an hour
For a long (2-hour) session, you may be able to get a discount.
Where to find a tutor
Interestingly, I have had the best success with tutors via Gumtree ads. Below are the various places to find a tutor:
- Tutoring centres: there are several companies that offer tutoring services. I personally have not gone down this path because I like to find someone who can come to our home.
- Gumtree: there are many uni students and teachers in many areas who offer their services as a tutor.
- Facebook marketplace: not as good as Gumtree, but it’s worth a look here too.
- Word of mouth: ask other parents or teachers about tutors they can recommend.
- Teachers: some teachers work after school to tutor kids or know someone who can.
What I look for
Finding someone good at tutoring would be an obvious central quality of what to look for. But it’s not for me. See, one time, I employed a person who was a good tutor (undoubtedly), however, I found they didn’t really fit into our family life very well. It was always a bit tense and awkward. I realised it was important to me to find tutors who are a good fit for our family support network, especially since tutoring often happens in our home.
This year, I have three different tutors for our three high school kids. They all have different needs.
- My eldest needs support only for maths, and I found an amazing tutor on Gumtree who is currently studying at university. She comes to our house and I feel relaxed about having her in our home. She and my daughter sit at the dining room table working and the rest of the house just works around them as usual.
- My second daughter needed someone who speaks/writes/reads French, and I a found a university student (also on Gumtree) to support her. Again, the tutor fits into and around our (busy-family-of-six) family life. For example, if the house is not perfectly tidy, I’m not stressed about it. We have a policy that the teen who is being tutored makes sure the living area and the dining table where they work is tidy before the tutor comes so it all works rather effortlessly (and with little or no input from me).
- My third daughter has specialised learning needs, and I invest in having a teacher tutor her after school. This functions as after school care also on the one day I get home later. My daughter stays after school and works there with her tutor, and then I pick her up on my way home.
Finding the right tutor to support your children and family can be valuable and positive.