There are many ways parents can find a physics and maths tutor. With the number of agencies providing tutoring services in the country growing, some people find tutors through personal ads while a greater number rely on recommendations. Tutorfair is one of the first websites that allow people to book a tutor online, and since the site funds charity work it addresses different educational disadvantages. I strongly suggest that you look there first.
Before settling for a physics and maths tutor, it’s advisable that you meet several first. Since tutors are people just like you and me, each has their own style of tutoring. It is, therefore, vital that you first take the time to consider each to see who will best fit the student’s potential. It can be quite tempting to make a decision based on your liking for a person, or on the fact that the tutor seems to have a unique tutoring style that you liked as a child. However, it’s not you that will be working with them. It’s, therefore, important that you listen to your child and see who they’d like to work with and who they think they could learn best from. If your kid likes a tutor, then half of the problem is solved as they’ll often work harder to impress their mentor.
If your kid does not like any of the tutors available, then this could make finding one a bit harder, and the problem might not be about the tutors but more about the student – he or she probably has a problem with tutoring. I have heard parents say to their children ‘okay, you are going to have to work with a tutor, so find one who you hate least’. This isn’t to say that you should not trust your own instincts, just remember that it is your child that will be working with the tutor.
During the decision-making process, there are some very important questions that I believe are worth asking the new potential tutor. If asked early in the selection process, these questions could save you a lot of time later. Here are some:
– What kind of learner are you? As a student, were you more kinesthetic, auditory, visual, or did you learn best by rote?
– If a student does not feel like studying that day, how would you handle the situation?
– Ever had any difficult students, and if you did, how did you deal with them?
While this might sound like an interview, in part it is. I’d advise you not to give potential tutors a hard time during your initial meet up, but make sure that you voice your concerns or questions. Part of the tutor’s work is to act as a link between the kid and the parents academically. However, I’d be wary of a tutor who can’t explain their working method and ethics. Nowadays, I use my gut feelings a lot. Nevertheless, I still have some things that I like to do first. if the tutor cannot explain some things during the initial meet up, then I would be very concerned about their aptitude to explain challenging things to a student who’s really stuck.
Something else to consider is how qualified the tutor is. Most tutoring agencies have stipulations that their tutors should possess specific qualifications at least a level above those they are teaching. For instance, a GCSE History tutor should have an A-level on the subject, with some even stipulating that they should hold degrees in the area. This does make a lot of sense, however, it is still worth noting that just because one holds a PhD or a degree in a subject, that does not necessarily mean that they can teach it.
Some of the best tutors I have ever met were once people who struggled at school themselves. Most maths teachers back in my school days never really had a problem with maths. However, it’s clear to me now that this made it harder for them to empathise with students who were not ‘getting it’. I only got to really understand maths later on in time, which is something, in some ways, that led me to be more patient with struggling students, since I went through the same struggle.
Apart from being great teachers, the most successful tutors are the ones who are halfway between a best friend and a teacher. Such tutors inspire students to want to learn, and kids often like them a lot they’ll work even harder, sometimes just to impress them. This is amongst the most powerful tools that a tutor has and therefore their success will mostly depend on the chemistry between the tutor and his or her students. I am not saying that all students will love and connect with every tutor they get, but if they really aren’t getting it on, this could be really bad news for both the student and tutor.
The tutor could risk negative reviews from the student’s parents (and this does count in the playgrounds outside of school) while the students could risk wasting a lot of valuable time. It is, therefore, vital that you see how a tutor you are considering interacts with your kid, and although I recommend giving them time alone to work together, do not be afraid to ask your child about how he or she felt after the lesson.
They do not have to be super excited about their tutor, but it is a good idea to check and see if they feel like they learned something and that they do not feel lacking in confidence and completely overwhelmed.
Once you’ve settled for a tutor, the next thing to consider is how you are going to get the most out of the tutor. To find out more about my thoughts on this subject matter, see my next blog post coming soon “Parents: How To Get The Most Out Of Your Kid’s Tutor”