Selecting a Tutoring Center

A good tutor is hard to find

Live in the suburbs? You probably see half a dozen tutoring places dotted among the shopping centers in your area. And yet, why is it so hard to find a good tutor? Sometimes the answer is the delivery method itself. Are you familiar with these common tutoring models?


The Drill & Kill

These centers value repetition as a learning strategy. Worksheets + Worksheets = More Worksheets. We know that students learn in a variety of ways, and repetition & memorization are valid earning methods. Most students however, do not learn best this way. Children who are auditory processors, visual or kinetic learners need more. That is the reason that teachers today have so many different types of activities and lessons planned for their classes. Students’ learning strategies are diverse, and a good tutor should be able to adapt to that.

The Worst Case Scenario

If a learning center offers you a discount of $200 or $300 on an assessment before even signing up for a package, that’s a good indicator that you’re walking into a money pit. The best data on your child already exists –report cards, notes from their teachers and work samples. Sending your child into a center to take a placement test is a recipe for disappointment. These centers are money makers and the reports they print out show the WORST, and often exaggerated, case for your child. You might have walked in needing help with math and walked out thinking your child is several grade levels behind in reading. Just keep in mind, these places make money off your fears.

The Membership

The flexibility of a membership style learning center is attractive to busy families. Come and go as you need, as much as you need. The draw back here is that your child likely will not work with the same tutor every time, and likely will not get the full attention of the tutor. When kids are set up sitting around a big table with a tutor walking around and assisting as needed, no child is getting a full hour’s worth of instruction.

The Unicorn

Nothing beats one to one attention with someone who can build a rapport with your child. When selecting an individual tutor (or a service that matches students with individual tutors), consider location and credentials. Will the sessions be in your house? A center? The tutor’s home? Starbucks? Will your child be able to focus and work hard in that setting? Lots of people are good at math or writing, but not everyone can teach it. What kind of training has your tutor had? Are there testimonials available supporting the tutor’s skill set?

How to Shop Around

Consider these questions when selecting an individual tutor or a learning center for your child:

  • What are the credentials of the tutor(s)?
  • Will your child see the same tutor at every appointment?
  • Will the tutor be working with more than one child at a time?
  • How will your tutor know where to start?
  • Will my child work on the material needed for school or a separate curriculum provided by the tutor?
  • What happens when your child “has nothing to work on” the day of tutoring?
  • The four C’s: Cost, Credentials, Class Schedule & Commitment

No one knows your kids the way you do. Picture your child sitting in a tutoring session. What does it look like? Who else is walking around the room? Whatever you decide, your child should walk out of tutoring EVERY time feeling better than when he or she walked in. If that is not happening, it’s time to move on.