Finding a Tutor  
  Whether your child is falling behind, or striving to get ahead, here’s how to find the best help.  


Word of mouth is the best way to find a tutor. Your best bet is to get recommendations from other parents as well as teachers and school administrators, who often have a list of preferred individuals. Keep in mind that even if a tutor comes with the highest recommendations, it doesn’t guarantee success. A tutor who worked wonders for one child might not click with yours.

An advanced degree is beneficial but not essential. An expert in calculus will not necessarily know how to teach your child to add and subtract. While an advanced degree ensures that the tutor knows the subject matter, you need to consider other qualities such as patience and communication skills.

Monitor your child’s progress. You should see your child improving her study habits and becoming more confident with the subject matter. Parents should check in regularly with the tutor to track their child’s progress. It is important for both the parent and the child to be patient: Learning does not happen overnight.

Help your child feel comfortable with the idea of getting help. Getting tutored can be especially tricky when one sibling excels while another struggles. “Children need to be constantly reminded that there is nothing wrong with them and nothing that needs to be ‘fixed,’ ” says Nikki Geula, founder and president of tutoring company Arete Educational Consulting, Inc.

Year-long or life-long? Some tutors think their job is never done. “The ideal situation is to have an ongoing tutor who acts as a personal educator,” insists Nathaniel Frank, a member of a tutoring service called the Teaching Collective. Other tutors believe their services should diminish over time. However, all tutors agree that they should not just be used prior to an exam or term paper. It is best to establish a set schedule, usually one or two one-hour sessions per week (at first), without a set end-date.

Consider group tutoring, if private sessions are too expensive. “School-class sizes are so big that if a child can get guidance along with three or four other students, it is very helpful,” says Julie Binder, a third-grade teacher in Brooklyn.

Tutor prices vary significantly. A private tutor can charge anywhere from $90 to $300 per one-hour session, and group-tutoring programs start at about $60 an hour. In addition, some tutoring services charge a fee for the preliminary consultation.

From the Fall 2003 edition of the New York Family Guide