I originally wrote about finding a tutor for your child a couple of years ago. A few years on, and I have had more experience with tutors so thought it would be useful to update this post and re-publish it with a few additions.
I have employed tutors to assist my kids with areas they need extra support on and off for at least five years now. There are certain things I look for in a tutor, depending on the child and their needs.
What age to start tutoring?
I have three children in high school now. 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 important for young children to have time 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 wisdom of the child development specialist, and 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 to 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). You can read more about that here.
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 extremely helpful and I have seen their marks improve too.
In general, it is great to have other people in your family life supporting you and your children!
Types of tutors
In my experience, 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
- Medium (teachers) – $30-$55 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
Over the years, I have found tutors in a range of ways, through Gumtree, asking for recommendations, and using professional tutor agencies. Things to consider are if you want someone to come to your home to tutor (which can be convenient, if you want it to be online, at school or at another location). Below are the various places to find a tutor:
- Tutoring centres: there are several companies that offer high school tutoring services. My friend recommends A Team Tuition (sponsored link). What is different about their tutoring system approach, they focus on helping kids overcome psychological barriers, and they take the time to learn the child’s learning style. So it is not just about tutoring, but about helping kids learn life skills, which I think is a fab approach because it’s the best way for kids to truly reach their potential. I notice they can come to your home, plus offer online tutoring options too. Check out their website, or Facebook, for testimonials from other parents and more info.
As a side note, I’ve been surprised how well online tutoring has worked for my high school child (in grade 11) because she is often busy in afternoons and being able to do it at home around her schedule has been ideal but still very effective.
- 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. I have had success, especially with finding a French tutor, by asking for recommendations.
- Teachers: some teachers work after school to tutor kids or know someone who can.
What I look for
Finding someone good at tutoring is obvious but it is not the only thing to consider. One time, I employed a person who was a good tutor (undoubtedly), however, I found they didn’t really click with my child. It was always a bit tense and awkward. I realised it was important to find tutors who are a good fit for our family support network.
It’s worthwhile considering if you want a tutor to come to your home, do it online, or if you’re happy to take a child somewhere external for tutoring. I have done all three over the years, and it really depends on the situation we are in and the needs of the child.
My kids have different needs so we have found different type of tutors.
- When my eldest was at school (she’s at uni now), she only needed general support for maths. I found a great tutor on Gumtree who was studying maths at university. She came to our house and I felt relaxed about having her in our home. She and my daughter sat at the dining room table working and the rest of the house just worked around them as usual.
- My second daughter (senior school) needs someone who speaks/writes/reads French. I found a fabulous French-speaking tutor through a recommendation from a friend. He and my daughter tutor over Skype each week.
- My third daughter needs specialist support for maths, and I invest in having a teacher tutor her after school. She does this after school.
In my experience, finding the right tutor to support your children and family can be valuable and positive.