Finding a Math Tutor: Private or Tutoring Business?
Finding a private tutor to help you with your high school or college math class can be challenging. Similarly, when your child is struggling in math, it can be difficult to find the right person to help.
Learn about the difference between hiring a private tutor directly and working with a tutoring company. Understand whether you or your student needs a teacher with an education background or teaching certificate. Know what questions to ask a prospective to tutor to decide if they are a good fit for you and your student.
Does the Tutor Need a Teaching Certificate?
The exact credentials of math tutors vary widely. Some math teachers choose to tutor in their free time so they are carrying a teaching degree and years of experience teaching math. Other tutors don't have direct experience as a teacher but do have specialties in education that will be beneficial to your child. Still, other tutors earned math or related degrees in college and enjoy tutoring students in similar subjects.
In general, a teaching degree or education specialist will be more important if the student is elementary age or has particular difficulty learning new material. A learning or behavioral disorder is better handled by a professional.
A local Google search or perusal around newspaper ads will turn up a lot of companies that set you up with a private math tutor. Are they the best choice for improving your math grades?
Pros: Easy to Find, Verified Tutor Credentials, Easy Payment
Tutoring companies are all over. Most you will find are nation-wide with chains in your area. These locations are well-established and a lot of their information can be found online. Hiring a tutoring company has the added benefit of giving you confidence that the tutor you will work with has passed a background check and has some level of tutoring qualifications.
A tutoring business may be the best choice for someone who needs a tutor with a specific specialty.
Cons: Expensive, Usually Lower Quality
Tutor businesses can be very convenient because their services make it easy to find tutors and understand the process, but understand this comes at a cost. These companies have to make money by taking their cut so the tutor will receive less than you are paying. This means a lower quality tutor for the price than if you hired them directly. Depending on your circumstance this can be an acceptable trade-off for convenience.
The quality is hit or miss. This is because tutoring companies don't pay the tutors very well so a skilled tutor can usually find their own business and make more themselves.
Private Math Tutors
On the other hand, you can hire a private math tutor directly. This involves finding a math tutor, determining a schedule and location that works for both the student and the tutor and paying them directly.
Pros: Direct Payment, More Flexible Methods and Schedule
The advantage of hiring an individual directly to tutor math is every cent you pay goes straight to them, so the quality of instruction you get will match their rate.
Also, many math tutors are willing to travel to your home or school for the tutoring sessions and can work around your schedule. This is a huge cost and time saver if you use a tutor often.
A private math tutor can use the methods best for your student and isn't tied to fulfilling any other obligations.
Cons: Difficult to Find, Background not Verified
The cons of hiring a tutor directly are the same of hiring anyone not through a company: you have to find them yourself and review their credentials.
Mitigate the lack of certainty in their background by verifying their credentials and abilities on your own.
Where to Find Private Tutors
A local math tutor can be difficult to find on your own and definitely does require more work but can save you money in the long run and can get you great results. Here are some possible sources:
Try asking your neighbors, parents of other students or a school academic counselor for suggestions of private tutors in your area.
Check Local Boards
Both online and physical community boards are likely to have postings advertising someone's math tutoring services. Your local community center and the library is a good place to start. Also, check out online boards like Craigslist or Nextdoor.
If you find someone through a posting ask about their background, cost, and availability. Setting the first meeting at a public library works well for both parties.
Evaluate a Math Tutor
Once you have a prospective math tutor for your student, take some time to ask them questions that will help you decide if they are the right person to help you or your child with math.
Here are some areas to cover:
- What is your experience with tutoring?
- Will you be available to help more frequently around big tests?
- What can you do to accommodate my child's learning style?
Decide what is most important to you and the student. Finding a tutor that is a good match will make math so much more manageable.
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