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?
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.
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:
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.