Tutor Hiring Guide

When it comes to hiring a tutor for your child, it could be a daunting experience.

We’ve put together a quick guide here, offering a quick tutoring industry together with some helpful hints. We hope to help you find the best matching tutor and lower your financial risk at the same time.

This guide works in conjunction with 5 Essential Questions to Ask Potential Tutor.

Let’s get started.

Evaluate your Child’s Personality
Is your child communicative? Does he need constant attention and on-going monitoring? Is he being distracted easily? Is she a chatterbox?
If quiet and shy describes your child, it’s better to bring him to an agency where a large number of tutors are available to choose from. If your child is easily distracted, In-House tutoring is a better choice where the studying environment is tightly controlled.

Cost vs. Result
Although it’s doesn’t appear to have a causal relationship between cost and quality, we all understand that there a implicit trade off between them. Individual private tutors are the least expensive. In-House franchises such as Sylvan are the most expensive of them all. (note: Sylvan provides one-on-three tutoring based on a large upfront commitment, roughly $55 per hour rate.) When cost is the major concern, start with private tutors. 5 Essential Questions applies regardless.

In-Home vs. In-House tutoring
If your schedule renders you unable to travel, in-home tutoring is your only option. These on-demand type of service is often less effective for students in need of on-going (long-term means one term at a time) help. Tutors visiting homes are usually of lower quality with much less experience. If tutoring as part of your child’s long-term overall strategy, it’s worth the effort to shop for more a reputable In-House alternative, which are more reliable in general in terms of quality and experience. But cost is generally higher. We’ll elaborate further. Unlike individual private tutors, companies are more likely to offer better experience with higher success rate. From tutor’s perspective, he would rather work as In-House tutor to cut down traveling time. The ability to work back-to-back non-stop is very critical to learn a stable and enriching income.

Company/Agency vs. Private Tutor
As mentioned, private tutors are cheaper to hire, more restrictive in terms of scheduling and more flexible commitment duration, at the expense of consistency and results. Private tutor often has less tutoring experience. Do yourself a favour. Don’t hire Kijiji tutors! Why would you shop for the cheapest when it come to your child’s education? Typically, a tutor with plenty of tutoring experience rather work for a company. Hourly rate is lower (company takes a cut), but the work is much more consistent, hence the overall pay is much higher. Besides, taking phone calls and dealing with complex scheduling issue could become overwhelming. On the other hand, an agency or company provides consistent work, relatively good working environment and good pay. Consistent work sharpens a tutor’s teaching skills and he becomes more resourceful. If you have a family friend offering to help, it doesn’t hurt to try when the situation is not desperate. Children with poor studying habits don’t usually learn well with family or friends. Bringing in an outsider is much more effective approach.

Contract worker vs. Employee
Most individual private tutors and some companies treat tutors as contract workers. Contrary to common misconceptions, their hourly rate, after deducting time spent on traveling, is lower and workplace is not covered by insurance. When tutoring is held in your home, for insurance purposes, you are liable for any accident occurs. The tutor is technically your guest. Say if he fell and broke his leg on your driveway, you are liable. Beware of risks.

Local Curriculum Alignment
To demonstrate, let me use two examples. Kumon relies on a separate curriculum. It provides low cost mass production tutoring. The tutor doesn’t really tutor but to mark worksheets. It’s progress is independent of local school curriculum. Sylvan, on the other hand, is American curriculum centric. If your goal is to improve your child’s school marks, Sylvan is a better (ignoring the fact that it’s American) choice than Kumon. If you are aiming at keeping your child busy during down time, Kumon might not be a bad choice. Choose accordingly.

Focus on Poor Reviews (excluding the face-to-face interview)
Do your research on the internet. Look for testimonials on platforms that can’t be faked easily. Posts on Google Review, Facebook and Yellowpages aren’t likely to be fakes. Both Google and Facebook have gone to great length to prevent phoney reviews.
Start reading the least favourable reviews. When a customer said he wasn’t not happy with the service, find out why. Disgruntle customers are much more likely to write poor lengthy reviews. Happy ones are much less visible. Compare the number of poor reviews (1 to 3 stars) with the other top 5 choices. Contact your favourite 3 for face-to-face interviews. In terms of email inquiries, look for same day response time. Anything more than a day is unacceptable: either they are too busy (don’t care about your inquiry) or messy (unorganized and unable). With the help of technology, it shouldn’t take more than a day. If you end up spending days on reading reviews, you are over doing things. Additional research should be done after nailing down your choices to 2 – 3 prospects. Arrange free consultations. Ask the right questions.

Tutor with Teaching Certificate Overrated
Many parents think hiring a tutor with teaching certificate is the safest bet. It can’t be more wrong. Chances are the teacher has never taught the grade and subject of which your child would like to receive help on. Teachers have other money making options. You got to ask why he wants to take up your job. For the love of teaching? LOL Instead, insist on a tutor with matching personalities and experience with a traceable track record of helping similar students in the same grade, same subject.

Verify the Business: Residential Address Not Desirable
With the business address and phone number, do a quick search on Yellowpages.ca. Make sure the listed address is the same as the one published on their website. If they don’t match, move on. Some company owners run the whole operations in their basements and list different addresses on the their websites, offer to meet you in your home, providing In-Home services, etc. Don’t fall for the trap!

Nothing Beats Face-to-Face Initial Meeting
Meeting location is critical. Do not sign up over the phone. Insist meeting at the location listed on the website after Yellowpages.ca verification. Some basement operation claim to save you time by coming to you. Don’t fall for it.
Let the tutor lead the meeting. Observe how he handles questions. Experienced tutors would offer you a plan after clearly identifying goals. Ask if the tutor encountered similar situation recently, what was the goal, plan and results. Ask how progress can be tracked. Ask the right questions. Read 5 Essential Questions to Ask Potential Tutor.

Say NO to Written Assessment: 
Fee or no fee, written assessments are unreliable, period. Kids don’t take it seriously leading to false positives. The marks on report card is sufficient.

No Large Deposit, No Long-Term Obligation:
Don’t make large deposit or join programs with large upfront costs. About one-month of initial payment is acceptable. Even if things do work out for whatever reasons (e.g. dropping the course), the relationship can be ended timely. As with most service industry, refund is no an option.

Monthly vs. By Lesson Fee Structure:
When signing monthly payments, even if you go away for two weeks during Spring Break or on vacation during Christmas, you will be automatically charged. You are paying lessons your child doesn’t use. The average cost of those lessons you actually use could end up substantially higher. Learn about cancellation policy.

I hope you find this guide helpful. When it’s time for an interview, you will find 5 Essential Questions to Ask Potential Tutor very handy.

 

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