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Finding a Tutor

Finding a Tutor

Published: 02/15/2011 by Jill Hickling

» Education & Learning Support

Have you heard: “I hate this”, “I’m bored”, or “I don’t get it”? Do you have certain subjects you dread teaching that generally end up in tears and yelling? It could be time to give yourself and your child a break and consider a tutor.


According to Wikipedia, a private tutor is “a private instructor who teaches a specific educational subject or skill to an individual student or small group of students. Such attention allows the student to improve knowledge or skills far more rapidly than in a classroom setting.” Tutors can be very useful for building confidence in a student, preventing a student from falling too far behind in a subject and/or making a subject more exciting.


Some children lack the ability in themselves to take risks and make mistakes so they don’t try at all. Tutors can build strategies with your child to learn how to succeed after making a mistake. This is a lifelong skill best learned sooner rather than later.


The signs of falling behind can be easily identified. This is the child who does not pay attention, has difficulty finishing assignments, and generally battles to complete homework.  These are signs that may go beyond getting a tutor. Further investigation into learning ability may even be warranted. Take your concerns to your doctor and ask for a referral to a pediatrician. Early detection is key. Learning can be better structured once concerns are clearly defined. This means more success and less stress on the struggling student.

Some children are very smart and need more challenge. Tutors can explore areas of interest and make suggestions for useful resources. Interestingly, characteristics of this child can be the same as the child who is behind.

There are several things to look for in a good tutor: Experience, references, personality match, encouragement, honesty, affordability, flexibility. 

There are many agencies, private companies and individuals willing to tutor but experience is very important. Tutors should have a basic foundation of knowledge in the subject they are tutoring that extends beyond yours and your student’s. A tutor should demonstrate a desire to be continuously learning both about teaching pedagogy and the subject material that they are covering. As a note, there are people who don’t have post-secondary education but make amazing tutors. Keep an eye out for these people!

References are always recommended.  This allows you to talk with other parents. You should see some form of improvement after each session. Sometimes the improvement can be as simple as increased excitement about the subject.
You, your child and the tutor have a personal connection. If there is a personality conflict improvement will be difficult. Having to deal with a conflict of personality may leave your student more frustrated and unhappy then before. 

A good tutor will be one who leaves your student feeling like they are making progress. The focus should be on learning the concepts and the confidence that goes along with that knowledge, not just getting work done.

A tutor needs to speak openly and honestly about your students’ abilities and improvement. They should also have testing to support their findings as well as observations from their sessions. A clear relationship must be built between home and tutor.

Private services and learning centers will more often charge more than an individual tutor. A little research will ensure that you feeling confident in the price you are paying. Sessions in Calgary range from $20 - $75 per hour.

Classroom teaching is created to reach the masses while tutoring can be tailored to suit your child’s learning style. A good tutor will find out how best your student learns and will teach based on those findings.

As a parent, you are your child’s best teacher. You know if they are struggling, have low confidence or are bored. You know how they learn best. If you think a tutor is a good option don’t hesitate to seek one out. We are there to help.