What Qualities Make a Good Tutor?

Kids can connect with an online tutor if they are engaged in the work.

 FatCamera / E+ / Getty Images

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Whether you’re looking for a geometry tutor for your high school student who could use a little more support, or you’re looking for a general tutor for your elementary school student who is falling behind, hiring someone to tutor your kids can be good for everyone.

First, it may reduce your responsibility to try and teach your child how to do their work. Trying to take over as the homework monitor/teacher can be stressful. Hiring a tutor may reduce the arguing and the frustration everyone feels.

A good tutor will know how to help your child connect the dots—so the material will make sense. They’ll help your child gain confidence in their skills and help them become more independent.

But not all tutors are created equal. It’s important to find a well-qualified tutor who has the right characteristics and experience for the job.


You might think a tutor has a college degree or some type of certification that shows they’re qualified to teach kids. After all, many of them are being asked to teach tough concepts in a way that works for your child.

But a quick online search for tutors might lead you to ask, “Can anyone be a tutor?” Clearly, there are a wide variety of people marketing themselves as tutors.

You might discover tutors range from high school students who want a little part-time income to retired experts with doctorate degrees who are just looking for something to do.

There’s no tutor licensing board or regulating system for tutoring. So, essentially, anyone who claims they’re a tutor can do so.

Of course, there’s nothing saying a high school student can’t do a good job. And there’s no guarantee that someone with a fancy degree can teach. But, it’s important to consider someone’s education, experience, and qualifications before hiring them.

A tutor needs to have a good understanding of the material if they’re going to teach it to someone else. And they also need skills that allow them to teach the material in an easy-to-understand way.

Personality, Characteristics, and Approach

Of course, the best qualifications in the world won’t matter if the tutor doesn’t have the right personality or characteristics to do the job. Here are some things you may want to look for when selecting a tutor for your child:

  • Relatability: If your child isn’t likely to get along with their tutor, they may dread sessions. And that will likely make tutoring ineffective.
  • Flexibility: A one-size-fits-all approach isn’t likely to work. It’s important to find a tutor who knows how to work well with your child—and one who can make adjustments when certain approaches aren’t effective.
  • Enthusiasm: You want to find someone who is passionate about learning and teaching. This can help your child stay engaged in their work.
  • Reliability: It’s essential that you and your child trust the tutor. You want to work with someone who keeps their word. Someone who shows up on time sends you the information they promise and follows through on things they say they’re going to do is essential.
  • Empathy: An empathetic tutor can ensure your child feels heard and understood. A good tutor will recognize how factors like test anxiety, insecurity, and stress impact performance. Showing a clear understanding of your child’s emotions will be an asset to the process.

Questions to Ask

Before hiring a tutor, it’s important to ask questions. Asking the right questions will help you gain the information you need to make the tutoring experience positive. Here are some questions to consider:

  • What kind of experience do you have? Ask about the tutor’s qualifications and experience working in a specific subject area. Also, inquire about what types of age groups the tutor has worked with to ensure it’s going to be a good fit for your child.
  • Can we talk to the families of any of your students or former students? Most reputable tutors will be happy to connect you with some of their other clients. And while they may post glowing reviews on their website from happy parents and kids, it’s important to talk to other families directly if you can. Ask about their experiences to learn more about the tutor, the process, and the results they’ve seen.
  • How often will sessions take place? Shorter, more frequent sessions are likely to be more helpful than one full-day a month of tutoring. The tutor should have some clear suggestions about how often to meet—but of course, it’s ultimately up to you to decide.
  • What online platform do you use? The online platform the tutor uses can make a huge difference in your child’s learning experience. Will they simply be video chatting and your child only sees the tutor’s face? Or, is there a white board where the tutor can show your child how to work through concepts? Is there an interactive component to tutoring, such as slides or games? Learn as much as you can about what the sessions will look like.
  • Will my child receive support in between sessions? If you or your child has a question between tutoring sessions, is there a way to reach the tutor? Some tutors are available by phone or email. Others can’t be reached outside of the scheduled appointment times.
  • Do you assign homework? Will the tutor just be helping your child with their school work? Or will they be assigning other work that will help your child gain a better understanding of the material?
  • What approach do you use? Tutors have lots of different strategies for teaching and motivating kids. Ask about the tutor’s style and the strategies you can expect them to employ.
  • How will we know if tutoring is effective? Will you see better grades at school if tutoring works? Or, should you expect to see other changes, like less time needed to complete homework? It’s important to know how you’ll determine if progress is being made.
  • What kind of results can we expect to see? It’s also important to get a realistic picture of what type of results you might expect from tutoring. Will your child become an honor student or are you hoping they pass the class?

How to Find a Good Tutor

While it may be tempting to pay the older kid down the street to tutor your child, it may not be a good idea.You’re better off finding a well-qualified tutor who will use your time and money wisely.

Research online tutoring companies. Reputable companies can match you to a tutor who meets your needs. This can save you many hours of research and can increase the likelihood that your child’s experience will be successful.

By Amy Morin, LCSW
Amy Morin, LCSW, is the Editor-in-Chief of Verywell Mind. She's also a psychotherapist, an international bestselling author of books on mental strength and host of The Verywell Mind Podcast. She delivered one of the most popular TEDx talks of all time.