Tutoring is a wise decision to consider if your child is struggling at school, but not all math tutors are equal. Some will be better than others in explaining math concepts that your child may have a hard time understanding. There are qualities that a math tutor must have in order to be truly effective in teaching math.
In asking “What should I look for in a math tutor?”, consider the following characteristics:
Training and Past Experience
First, a good math tutor should be able to deliver the material in a way that your child will be able to grasp it easily. A tutor will only be able to do this if he or she is able to communicate in an effective manner. Look for tutors who have previous teaching or tutoring experiences, and choose the one who has plenty of tutoring experiences in your child’s grade level.
There are other things to consider here. One of the first things you should ask potential math tutors is if they have any experience in home tutoring. Keep in mind that a certified teacher may not be as effective in teaching a 1-on-1 session if they are used to teaching whole classes at a time. Ask for any credentials they can give you as proof before starting an agreement.
The math tutor should be able to convey the concepts of math clearly to their students. In short, the tutor must have a strong grasp of math concepts and is prepared to go beyond definitions in order for your child to understand the subject matter.
At the very least, the math tutor should have a high school diploma when they are assigned to teach elementary or middle school children. Teaching math at the high school and collegiate level will more or less require an undergraduate degree. It’s not unusual for individuals who have a major in science or mathematical engineering to offer math tutoring on the side.
There are some math tutors who advertise themselves as self-taught. Should you go for it?
You’ll find out in the course of your search that there are math tutors who specialize in teaching math at different levels. You’ll also find that there are some who advertise a specialty, including:
So if your child is struggling in trigonometry, you can be sure that your child will have a tutor who can specifically meet your child’s needs in trigonometry. Moreover, you will have a chance to come across personalized tuition from private tutors who aren’t strictly enmeshed in the national curriculum’s framework. This can be a refreshing change which can serve to re-invigorate your child’s interest in math studies.
Soft skills are just as important as a tutor’s math experience and educational background.
Have the math tutor explain to you a mathematical concept or solve a math problem. At the end, you should have understood the concept or gained insight as to how you can solve similar math problems yourself. The tutor should be able to go beyond the “how to” and explain the math problem or concept in greater detail.
Is the math tutor in a rush, or do you feel like he or she is working in the same pace as you are? Do a test run with your child. Confusing explanations should be avoided. Likewise, the tutor should always check for mastery before moving on to the next task.
Patience is also a must-have. Math can be incredibly difficult to understand and learn. It’s not unusual for a child to need to be taught more than once in order to understand math concepts and numbers. The tutor should not be frustrated by this; more importantly, he or she should be able to see where the difficulty is and act appropriately. The best tutor will be one who can explain one math concept in multiple ways until your child gets it.
Home or Location and Schedule?
Are you more comfortable in a 1-on-1 home session or are you fine with a location-based math tutoring service? Consider important factors such as convenience, traveling expenses and time constraints. Today, it’s not unusual for math tutors to teach math by phone or by virtual classes. Try and see what method will work best for your child.
Ask the math tutor if he or she will be teaching math to a class. If so, how many are in the class? Learning is best applied in small groups and in a 1-to-1 environment. If a math tutor has too many students, then it may be wiser to opt for a smaller group class with a different tutor.
Math tutors will need to be paid for their time and services, and the payment scheme may work in different ways. For example, a one-on-one private home tutoring for math can be a bit more expensive as compared to a location and schedule-based group setting.
Think about the costs of hiring a private math tutor for your child. Is the expense worth it? Will your child be fine if they were to attend a 10 or 20-group environment? If major exams are coming up and your child is having difficulty in important chapters, then it may be better to hire a math tutor who will teach your child math in your home. Otherwise, you may still get the results you need if you enroll your child on a math tutor course.
Here are some good questions to ask the math tutor:
- How much do you charge per hour/day/session?
- How long have you been teaching math?
- What are your qualifications? Do you have any references?
- What is your math specialization?
- Do you do home tutoring services?
- Have you had similar experiences teaching math to a same-grade student?
- How can you help with my child’s grades?
One last thing to remember is that the tutor may seem to be a good fit in the beginning, but may show signs of conflict with your child later on. In these cases, don’t be afraid to switch it up and find another math tutor. The key thing to note here is that the tutor must be able to work well with your child. More importantly, he or she should be able to make a positive impact on your child’s math grade and test scores.