As the owner of a tutoring company and a long-time tutor myself, I obviously have a bias in answering this question. However, I do believe the answer depends on the unique situation of the student and the family. One-on-one tutoring does have numerous advantages and has been shown to improve students’ academic performance, but other options can and should be explored first before investing in private tutoring services.
Online Lessons: Sites such as KhanAcademy.org offer a huge library of lessons and drills that students can use to review concepts or go through step-by-step instructions for different types of problems. I believe sites like this are a huge help to students who are already well organized, understand the subject and just need a review of an idea.
After School Programs: Many schools and libraries offer (usually free) tutoring services for students. This is typically done in a group setting where a teacher “floats” around answering questions as students work through homework problems. I believe these are a good resource when students have the time to attend (they are usually right after school ends) and only need a little guidance in their studies.
When to Hire a Tutor
If your student is struggling in school, having a dedicated one-on-one tutor can help for several reasons.
- Tutors can help organize and plan: If your student struggles to remember assignments and test dates or doesn’t know how to create a study schedule, a tutor can be helpful.
- Tutors can answer specific questions and provide multiple ways of teaching: The online lessons don’t give you an opportunity to ask the specific questions your student may have about a subject. Tutors can provide answers and employ multiple ways to teach your student if they do not understand what has been taught to them during the “lecture-style” teaching in school.
- Tutors can provide accountability and motivation: Some students need someone in their corner who will hold them accountable for completing their homework or studying for a test. A good tutor can also tap into different motivation strategies to help your student discover the benefits of what they are learning.
- Tutors are not their parent or teacher: Sometimes students need someone who is not their parent or teacher to work with them. Tutors can offer a more objective perspective and align with the student as they brainstorm various ways to increase motivation and complete assignments.
- Tutors are subject experts: A lot of the time, tutors may actually understand subjects at a deeper level than high school or middle school teachers. Tutors at Universal Achievement have studied that specific subject in college, work in that particular field of study, and/or apply that knowledge on a daily basis.