5 tips to pick the right tutor for your child

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“Equations written in chalk on a worn-out blackboard” by Roman Mager on Unsplash


You can’t help what you don’t understand!
Every tutoring engagement should start with a comprehensive analysis of each learner. This should consist of both academic and non-academic measures. On the academic front, the tutor should get to know the learner’s strengths and weakness at a detailed level. This isn’t “Mike isn’t good at fractions” but rather “Mike makes errors on fractions because he doesn’t understand the difference between numerators and denominators”.

On the non-academic side the tutor needs to get to know the each child’s attitudes and mindsets. Often, students fall behind because of behavioural issues rather than specific content issues. These need to be addressed before formal academic tutoring is able to help.

Questions to ask: Do you perform initial assessments of your students? If so what do you do and why are you doing it?

Any tutor or tutoring company worth their salt will provide an unbiased view of how each child is going. This will build on the initial assessment I mentioned in the point above. While it may mean giving up money now, good tutors will have honest conversations with parents and their children about the true need for tutoring. Some times students are doing really well and would benefit from undertaking non-academic activities.

Personally I have had to have hard conversations with parents, informing them that tutoring at this point in time is not the appropriate option since their child did not currently have the right attitude to benefit from tutoring.

Questions to ask: What specifically are my child’s strengths and weaknesses? Where should we be focusing our attention?

This one should be obvious — students have different needs, have different strengths and weaknesses and prefer to learn in different ways. It makes sense that the most effective approach for one student will not be the best for another. That’s why a good tutor will adapt and personalise their approach for every student.

While each tutor might start with a common initial approach it is important that tutors don’t just launch into auto-pilot. Be skeptical of people who use one-size-fits-all worksheets.

Question to ask: How will you adapt your instruction for my child?

Learning is a complex process and requires a multi-faceted approach. While focusing purely on academics (like many of the drill style tutoring centres) may produce good results in the short term, ultimately these are temporary. Effective tutors coach the whole student, addressing concerns and motivations in addition to academic needs.

Questions to ask: What is your tutoring philosophy? What academic and non-academic skills are you targeting and how?

It is very easy to become a tutor today. Anyone who has done well in school seems to be getting onto the bandwagon. But just because you did well at a subject doesn’t mean that you are a good tutor/coach. Unfortunately this has made the tutoring industry a modern day snake-oil field.

To combat this all parents should be putting pressure on their tutors to demonstrate how they are effective. Not it is reasonable to expect significant improvement in a matter of weeks. But the foundations should be in place to continuously measure and test how the learner is going.

Questions to ask: How do you prove that your methods are working? What will you do if you find that they aren’t?


Don’t risk your child’s education to one-size-fits-all study factories. Sandbox Learning Australia uses proven educational strategies to build real maths fluency in each child.

Location — WOTSO workspace bondi junction in Sydney
Website — www.sandboxlearning.com.au
Email — info@sandboxlearning.com.au

Written by

EdTech entrepreneur, passionate about improving education impact through tech and research-driving practice. Former consultant and engineer. Harvard MBA.

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