What to Look for in a Tutor or After-School Program

After school tutoring; girl with tutor
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Whether your child is struggling with a specific subject, like reading or math, or is having trouble keeping up with assignments in general, a tutor or an after-school tutoring program might be just what she needs. And these days, many kids are getting a lot of homework at younger and younger ages and parents who are juggling work, home, shuttling kids to after-school activities, and more, having someone help your child with homework and schoolwork can be invaluable. Here are some tips on what to consider when looking for a tutor.

What to Consider When Looking for a Tutor

Find someone fun. Just as you would when looking for a babysitter for your school-age child, you may want to look for a tutor with energy and enthusiasm. A love of learning and books and numbers can be infectious, and someone who makes it all entertaining can help your child learn to love learning, too.

Look for someone who will teach your child skills to develop good habits and work on his own. Ideally, your child's tutor will be someone who gives your child the ability to eventually work well independently.

A tutor shouldn't be someone your child relies on too much for help or is there for years for your child.

Ask your tutor how he handles stress in kids. Studies show that kids today are getting lots of homework, and both kids and parents are feeling the stress. Try to find a tutor who is open to including some stress-relieving techniques for kids, or is willing to just run around in the backyard with a soccer ball or do stretches with your child for a few minutes during breaks from studying.

Find job postings for older area students who have tutoring experience. Local high school students or college students, especially those who are studying to become teachers, are perfect candidates.

Look on local community websites, on a local parenting website, or on your school's website for tutors. Many tutors list their services online on sites for parents.

Ask other moms. Talk to other moms at the gym, the playground, or at school; chances are, someone has either used or has heard about a good after-school tutor.

Ask your child's teacher. Your child's teacher or someone else at the school may know of a good tutor or tutoring program.

Consider sharing tutors. There may be another student in your child's class who could use a little extra help with schoolwork. Plus, working with another child may give your child incentive to keep up, and put less pressure on her since she has another student who's in the same boat. And the best part: Sharing tutors will be less expensive than having a private tutor just for your child.

If a private tutor is not an option, you may also be able to find after-school tutoring programs that are either free or inexpensive.

Don't forget yourself! A tutor can help, but you are an important resource, too. You may have limited family time to spend with your child (by the time you get home from work and you eat dinner together as a family and go through your evening routines--make sure homework is done, school bags are packed for the next day, teeth are brushed, baths are done, and so on--there's very little time to sit and review schoolwork with your child); but you can try to look over what your child is doing with his tutor, and try to use free time on the weekends to incorporate fun into learning by playing math games, reading fun books and helping your child pick out books he likes to encourage reading and more.

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