Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Parenting Pointers: Looking for a Tutor

Deciding that your child needs a tutor can be a stressful time for parents, especially if the budget is tight or your child is self-conscious about requiring extra help. However, with the right tutor your child can become motivated to learn and succeed.

WyzAnt is an online tutor-matching network attracting thousands of subject experts to work with all-aged students on everything from grammar school math and English as a second language to yoga and cooking. I had a chance to interview Becca Helms, Customer Support Specialist from WyzAnt to discuss the five things you should look for when looking for a tutor.
What five things should parents look for when shopping for a tutor?

This primary consideration should always be the individual student’s needs, and parents will naturally have their own criteria for choosing a tutor, considering factors such as the tutor’s education, cost of tutoring, background checks and more. Here are five other important factors to consider when choosing a tutor:

1.     Confidence: It’s important to find a tutor who can confidently handle the level of subject expertise required. To find the right tutor, you can provide examples of the work so the tutor can assess his or her comfort with the material and gain an understanding of what methods and materials will work best.  

2.     Flexibility: It’s necessary to engage a tutor who can accommodate your scheduling needs, including preferred days, lesson times and desired frequency. Make sure your tutor’s schedule is compatible with yours on an ongoing basis so you can develop a comfortable routine.

3.     Meeting space. When choosing a tutor, it helps to be specific about where you would prefer to meet. Are you looking for an in-home tutor? Would you prefer to meet in a library or other public location? It’s important for all parties to feel safe and comfortable in the learning environment.

4.     Feedback: WyzAnt allows users to post reviews, positive and negative, about the tutors listed on our site. This feedback is available for new students and parents to review and factor into their decision. Before choosing a tutor, make sure you have access to review information, and ask to see résumés and/or references.

5.     Communication: Communication is critically important in the student-tutor-parent relationship. Sometime it may make sense to include the student’s teacher in the communication as well. Look for tutors who respond in a timely fashion, and make sure you and your tutor maintain effective and clear communication throughout the entire tutoring relationship. This ensures that everyone is on the same page.

Why is it so important to have the right match?

Finding the right student-tutor match facilitates the learning process in many ways. It is important to find a tutor who is able to communicate with the student in the student’s preferred learning style – this provides a foundation for learning a subject that may already be confusing to the student.

In addition, being comfortable with a tutor will allow the student to feel relaxed and ready to learn. Students are more likely to ask questions and express confusion when working with a tutor they are comfortable with – an opportunity that may not come up in the classroom or with a teacher. A great student-tutor match can help to facilitate communication between the student, parent and tutor so that everyone understands how the student is progressing through the material.

While all of these factors are important, finding the right tutor match can also come down to scheduling or location. If you or your family has a busy schedule, finding a flexible tutor can maximize the time that the student and tutor can spend together.

How did WyzAnt get started?

After graduating from college, co-founder Drew Geant became a math tutor. However, he struggled to find ways to promote his services online, and he realized there was no easy way for tutors to connect with local students.

He turned to his friend and fellow Princeton grad, Mike Weishuhn, to come up with a solution. The two used their big ideas and Mike's web development skills to co-found and build WyzAnt.com.

What are some available tutors on the site that people may not expect?
Most parents come to the site to find tutors for classroom subjects like math, science, English and history. But WyzAnt offers tutoring in a variety of other subjects, including test prep: WyzAnt offers one-on-one tutoring for numerous tests, including the SAT, ACT, LSAT, SSAT, STAAR, CBEST, Praxis, MCAT, TOEFL, GRE, ISEE, Regents, TEAS, NCLEX and many others.

WyzAnt also offers tutors approved in a lengthy list of languages including, Spanish, French, German, Russian, Italian, Bulgarian, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, ESL, Farsi, Latin, Hebrew, Hindi and many more. We also offer tutoring for Braille and sign language.

Some students get language tutoring for classroom purposes, while others have special interests or business needs for language tutoring. We’ve seen families request group tutoring to prepare for an exciting vacation. One gentleman was a wine vender, so he wanted to learn Italian for business trips. Another gentleman contacted us because his daughter was marrying a young man from France. He wanted a tutor to help him learn to communicate with his future son-in-law’s family and give his wedding speech in French to surprise his daughter on her big day!

There are also tutors who focus on the fine arts and sports/recreation. Fine arts subjects include dance, painting, photography, theater, film, cosmetology, music composition, guitar, violin, piano, sight singing, trumpet, French horn, oboe and music history. Sports and recreation subjects include basketball, soccer, football, golf, yoga and martial arts. WyzAnt even offers tutoring for chess and poker!

Tutors on WyzAnt also offer professional development training. Tutors have helped adults improve or gain skills such as public speaking, general computer, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft PowerPoint, computer programming and more.

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