Working one-on-one with a tutor is an extremely effective and beneficial way to help your child make strong academic progress. It can also be a significant investment of time and money. So, when is it worth it to hire your child a reading tutor? The first step in your decision-making should always be “data collection”. Figure out what areas of reading your child needs (or wants) assistance in. You can either closely observe his reading behavior at home or you can talk with his classroom teacher about his reading abilities. Then use these guidelines to help you decide if now is the right time for hiring a tutor.
When is it best to hire a reading tutor for your child?
Once you’ve identified what specific support your child needs in reading you need to decide if working with a reading tutor is the best way to support your child. Here are some of the best reasons for hiring a tutor to work with your child on reading:
- You have specific concerns about your child’s ability to read that can be supported by additional practice and instruction. Many times your child’s teacher can help you identify these areas.
- Your child is not getting adequate reading instruction in the regular school classroom.
- Your child asks for extra help in reading.
- Your child is above grade level in reading and needs additional enrichment and support to continue developing her abilities.
- Your child benefits from and enjoys working one-on-one with a teacher and is not able to get as much one-on-one time as he needs during the regular school day.
- Your child lacks confidence in her reading abilities. Tutors can help boost confidence by providing instruction and practice in a low-stress, “safe” environment away from the child’s peers.
- Your child needs study skills support. Sometimes students, especially those in middle and high school, know how to read, but lack the abilities to “tackle” the large amount of reading required when they are taking multiple academic classes. A tutor can help your child develop strong study skills for applying his reading abilities to homework.
- Your child needs additional support in preparing for standardized testing. Standardized tests do not always require readers to apply their skills in the same way they do in “real world” reading. Specialized support for “tackling” these difficult tests is necessary for some students. Tutors trained in coaching children for state standardized tests in reading or college-entrance exams such as the SAT can help them make significant gains.
- Someone who is trained in instructional strategies for teaching reading. Just because your tutor is a strong reader doesn’t mean he can teach reading. Make sure you hire a tutor who has training in reading education. Often the person will integrate a number of teaching strategies including visual and auditory methods to help your child develop as a reader.
- Someone who has experience working with children and experience teaching the specific skills your child needs support in developing. The best tutors are those who are certified teachers or who are enrolled in teacher preparation programs. If your child has been identified for special education services, be sure to hire a tutor who is trained in working with children with the same disability your child has.
- Someone who is able to form good relationships with children who are the same age as your child. Certainly you want your child to feel good about the tutoring experience. It is important that the tutor is able to relate to your child on his or her own level.
- Someone who is able to provide the kind of parent-tutor relationship you are looking for. Identify how you’d like for the tutor to communicate with you about your child’s progress. Do you want verbal or written reports after each session? Do you want to play an integral part in the actual tutoring sessions? Do you want your child’s tutor to be in communication with her classroom teacher? Be upfront with the tutor about your expectations for his/her relationship with you as the parent so you can make sure s/he is the right match for your family.
- Someone who can provide your child with consistent tutoring. It is not beneficial to a child to have just one or two tutoring sessions or to have a session one week then skip several weeks before working with the tutor again. Make sure that the tutor can commit to a regular schedule of tutoring sessions. This will ensure that your child will have regular instruction and practice in reading.
What should I look for in a reading tutor?
If you’ve decided that your child would benefit from working one-on-one with a reading tutor you’re probably wondering how to pick the best tutor for her. Generally you’ll want to look for:
Where can I find a reading tutor?
There are many sources for locating reading tutors. Often times your child’s school guidance counselor will keep a list of local tutors or facilities. You can also look online or in the phone book for large tutoring programs (such as Sylvan) or for local tutoring agencies. Other parents are an additional source of names because they can provide you first hand experiences working with a particular tutor.