Is Your Child’s Tutor Effective? Here’s What to Look For
There's no doubt about it – tutoring works. And, according to a recent study conducted at Johns Hopkins University, one-on-one attention from a teaching assistant or paraprofessional improved students' performance in the classroom even more than rigorous classroom instruction.
But just because your student receives one-on-one instruction doesn't mean their test scores will automatically shoot up. To see improvement, you need instruction from a qualified educator who is willing to set realistic, meaningful learning objectives for tutoring time – and who will encourage your student to move past frustration and toward content mastery.
Like any parent, you want to make sure your student receives the best possible instruction. That's why, at Teacherfindr, we seek the most qualified teachers in your area who want to tutor your student. They already know the curriculum, and they know how to adapt their tutoring styles to individual student needs, too.
Here are 8 signs you can look for to determine whether your child's tutor is teaching effectively.
Signs to look for in your tutor
1. Your tutor sets goals with you
A great educator works from a baseline, observing how a student performs without any intervention and then helping them improve from there. An effective tutor will work closely with you to choose reasonable tutoring goals for your student. You want someone who can meet your student where they're at right now, and who can consider how to help them level up in their learning, too.
Higher test scores and better course grades are often the aim of tutoring, but make sure you're seeking improvement relative to your student's abilities. Too much pressure, and your student could wind up feeling frustrated with their performance – even if their grades do improve!
And don't forget to consider other, less tangible factors, like increased participation in the classroom, improved focus, or increased feelings of confidence around homework, classwork, and testing. As your student works with their tutor, you should see improvements across each of these areas.
2. Your tutor uses teacher comments and student feedback to adjust their lessons
Good tutors are flexible, using all the information and resources at their disposal to reach any given student. At Teacherfindr, we help you put your tutor in contact with your student's teacher, so the educators in your student's life are on the same page. If your tutor regularly considers teacher feedback in how they structure their lessons, you know you have a great tutor on your hands.
Student feedback matters, too. Extra homework help isn't always fun, but tutors can respond to student feedback in various ways to make tutoring sessions lively, engaging, and supportive. Does your tutor change the kind of work they tackle in each session? Have they thought about how your student learns? Do they create a positive atmosphere? Does your student want to sit down with your tutor, even if the work is sometimes difficult?
3. Your tutor balances positive feedback with clear expectations for work
Students can experience a lot of shame around needing extra homework help, which is why it's so important for your tutor to make tutoring sessions feel positive and engaging – even when there's lots of work to be done.
Choose someone who encourages your student as they meet the challenges of individual assignments, but who isn't willing to let the lesson go out the window if your student balks at the workload. Students need a balance of positive feedback and encouragement with clear expectations about work, so they're motivated to keep going – even when the going gets tough.
4. Your tutor starts to take a back seat during tutoring sessions
One-on-one attention for struggling students is invaluable. But it's also important for students to learn independence in their quest to find the right answers.
If your tutor lets your student figure out content on their own, you can feel good about all the study skills your student is picking up as they work toward content mastery.
You should take note of how your tutor encourages your student to problem-solve, ask questions, read critically, and follow directions. These are invaluable study skills that translate directly to the classroom, including homework time and test-taking skills.
Signs to look for in your student
5. Your student receives better test scores or grades
Better test scores and grades can be good indicators of whether or not your student has an improved understanding of content with the help of a tutor. But more often, improvement in school is because a student's confidence shoots up, or they've learned better study skills from their tutor that help with test-taking or independent classwork.
While your student's test scores and grades should be celebrated as they improve, make sure to check in with your student's teacher to see what classroom behaviors have also changed.
Give even more praise for positive indicators like increased participation, classroom leadership, focus, and collaboration so your student knows they're on the right track.
6. Your student stops dreading homework time
If homework time at your house is hard, it might be because your student struggles with where to begin – or doesn't feel confident in their ability to complete work once they do.
One-on-one tutoring sessions with a licensed teacher can help with both of these hurdles. Not only do students learn how to break down homework prompts into manageable chunks during tutoring sessions, but they also get more practice with the content, which leads to feeling more secure in the classroom.
You should start to notice that your student stops dreading homework time or independent projects because they now have new skills – and more confidence – for tackling problem sets and essay prompts all on their own.
7. Your student receives positive feedback from their teacher
Students who struggle in school do so for all sorts of reasons: frustration, misunderstanding, lack of focus, and poor self-confidence among them.
In the classroom, teachers do their best to make sure as many students as possible understand the material. But some students might just need more attention to cross the finish line, and will feel frustrated or withdrawn in class until they get that extra attention.
One-on-one tutoring can make the difference, giving your student more time to process material, learn study strategies, and feel more confident in their abilities. As your student masters content with your tutor, your student's teacher should also notice changes in the classroom, like improved participation or focus.
Check in with your teacher to see what changes in behavior they've noticed — and ask whether they have any additional suggestions for tactics you can try at home.
8. Your student can do more work on their own
It's one thing for a student to master content with the help of a licensed teacher in one-on-one sessions. But it's quite another for your student to learn the skills and strategies they need to be self-directed learners.
Observe tutoring sessions to see whether your student asks more questions, tries different problem-solving methods, reads critically, and picks apart homework prompts or directions to understand the task in front of them. Your tutor should encourage these strategies – not just hold your student's hand or be a friendly "study buddy."
If you notice that your student is using more study strategies – and, in the process, answering more math problems correctly or writing essays with better organization – then you know their one-on-one tutoring sessions have been effective.