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Ask Dr. Shore...

About Choosing a Tutor


Q.
Dear Dr. Shore,
My daughter's 3rd-grade teacher has suggested that I look into getting a tutor for her because she has been struggling with reading. I've never hired a tutor before. What factors should I consider in getting a tutor for her?

A.
Although tutoring often can be helpful to a child struggling in school, you first should consider whether the school itself can provide the necessary assistance to your daughter. Thats best done at a meeting with the teacher, at which you try to understand the source of your child's reading difficulty and identify school resources or changes that might be helpful. Those might take the form of a change in classroom instruction (changing her reading group, for example) or extra help through a remedial program.

Learn More

For suggestions on how to help struggling readers within the classroom, see the articles written by Cathy Puett Miller, Education Worlds very own Reading Coach.

You also might want to inquire whether the problem is severe enough that she should be considered for testing by the school's evaluation team to determine if she has a learning disability.

After discussing in-school alternatives, you might decide that the best course is to pursue a tutor. Finding a tutor will require that you do some homework of your own. Your school district or community might provide tutoring programs. In addition, local colleges or universities, especially those with education departments, might have learning or reading clinics that offer testing and remediation.

If you decide that a private tutor is the best way to go, you should go about hiring one in the same way you would hire any other employee -- interview the tutor and obtain references. The following are specific questions you may want to ask:

  • What is your teaching experience? Has the tutor taught the subject your daughter needs assistance with? For how long? Has he or she taught children your daughter's age?
  • Are you a certified teacher? It is of course preferable that the tutor be certified to teach in your daughter's area of weakness.
  • What is your approach to tutoring? Does the tutor use a separate curriculum and new materials or will she use the same curriculum and materials that your daughter uses in class? Will the tutor help with homework?
  • Will you keep in contact with the teacher? Ideally, the tutor should be willing to talk directly with the teacher and, if necessary, maintain ongoing contact to ensure that the teacher and tutor are working in concert.
  • What is the cost of the tutoring? One-on-one tutoring can be expensive. Check whether there are any additional charges beyond the per-hour fee (for testing or materials, for example). If finances are an issue, you might ask if the tutor offers small-group tutoring to lower the cost.

Keep in mind that the best measure of the effectiveness of tutoring is your daughter's school performance, so keep in contact with her teacher to find out how shes progressing in reading and whether the tutoring seems to be helping.

About Ken Shore

Dr. Kenneth Shore is a psychologist who has worked in various public schools for more than 25 years. He has authored six books and produced a book and video series on bullying for schools and parent organizations called The ABCs of Bullying Prevention. Click to read a complete bio. For information on how to obtain his books and videos, go to his Web site.

 

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