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6 Ways to Find a Tutor

woman helping student

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Deciding that your child would benefit from a tutor can be stressful if the family budget is tight or if children are embarrassed about falling behind and won't admit they need more than just after-school extra help. But individual or group tutoring is a common way for kids to boost their chances of achieving scholastic success, and not all tutoring is expensive. Before searching for a tutor, consider whether a short- or long-term tutoring commitment is necessary to help your child focus on specific subjects. It may be difficult to know where to start, but the following tips will simplify the process and help you find the right tutor for your child. When looking for a tutor, always ask for his qualifications and track record. If the tutor is a good match, you will see your child develop a relaxed attitude toward homework and school.

Contact the School

The family resource center at your child's school will have information on where to find tutors, both through the school system and through private companies. A lot of schools offer after-school group study sessions and access to computer games that strengthen common problem areas. Your school may even have a program in place for students to assist other students or for enlisted parent volunteers to lend a hand. An advantage of working with the school is that its tutoring will be targeted toward the expectations for specific grade levels. The U.S. Department of Education offers free tutoring services for children attending schools characterized as needing improvement, so check with your child?s school to see what programs are available.

Consider Peer Tutors

There are situations when a child doesn't need another teacher, but rather a study buddy -- someone in the same class who has mastered the subject matter or an older student who can break down theories she has mastered. Peer tutors can help explain concepts while also building a supportive relationship. "Some kids are more comfortable working with a peer, and it doesn't have to be that the child is having a lot of trouble. Simply having someone to study with can be beneficial," says Resa Fogel, Ph.D., a child psychologist in Montclair and Teaneck, New Jersey. Organizing a study group can help children feel more involved with the learning process and meld their academic and social lives.

Look for Tutoring Agencies

Plenty of businesses offer tutoring services; they can be found through parenting publications, radio and television advertisements, and websites. Noodle Education (noodle.org) helps parents find tutors with specific skills across the U.S.; a parent can narrow the tutor search by subject, location, budget, and preferred interaction (in person or online). For families for whom the cost of tutoring is an issue, the site "offers a small group tutoring solution that allows the student or parents to enlist two to five friends to join in shared tutoring sessions," says Joe Morgan, CEO of Noodle Education; the costs depend on the size of the group and what tutoring options are selected. Once you do find a tutor, confirm her background and credentials, and make certain both parties understand the terms of the verbal agreement or signed contracts.

Contact Nonprofit Organizations

Contact your local university, YMCA, or Junior Achievement branch to see what mentoring and tutoring programs they offer. Many nonprofits have training programs that employ students -- high school students earning money and college students earning credits -- by teaching younger pupils. Because undergraduate and graduate school students often specialize in a few subjects and seek career experience, they may be the best source when looking for assistance in a particular area. If your child is studying French, consider finding a tutor through the Alliance Fran?aise (afusa.org), a worldwide organization with local chapters in the U.S. that offers language lessons for all ages. If your child has special needs, look for local groups that offer specialized tutoring; for instance, the Autism Society (autism-society.org) can help families locate tutors who teach kids on the autism spectrum.

Spread the Word

Mention your interest in hiring a tutor to friends, family members, neighbors, and coworkers. Finding a tutor through a friend gives you the benefit of mining knowledge from a trusted source, and someone who has already hired a tutor can give you an idea on the pros and cons of different approaches. It's important to get different perspectives to find the right match for your child, and speaking with friends can give you insights into an instructor's personality, skills, and teaching style and methods. Plus, you may discover unadvertised discounts and tips on when a tutor is available.

Look Within Your Network

A friend, family member, or neighbor may have the expertise of a tutor. If you can arrange time in each other's schedules and agree on compensation, this can be an ideal arrangement for children who are nervous about being tutored. It also alleviates the stress of working with a stranger and it can be easier on the family if meetings take place within the home or at a neighborhood library, decreasing travel time and expense. Of course, it is still important to have ground rules. If you do employ a close friend or family member, it is essential for your child to respect the tutor as an authority and for the tutor to understand the importance of the commitment.

Copyright © 2013 Meredith Corporation.