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4 steps to finding the right tutor

Whether your child may have difficulty grasping mathematical formulas, be simply disinterested in the subject matter, or lost in a haze of grammatical errors, intervention is needed to avoid a poor showing on the report card. 

As a parent, engaging a tutor may solve these problems but as each tutor is unique and may have many various skill-sets and abilities, it is important to know what you want, then thoroughly investigate the skill, experience, commitment and personality of the tutor.

Know your goals

Ask yourself or your child's teacher:

1. What level of help do we need? Does my child need homework help, intensive revision for the exams or something in between?

2. What areas do we want to see the tutor improve: better scores in one subject (e.g. math, science); improved general skills (English oral or creative writing); study skills; motivation?

3. What do I know about my child's learning style? Does he learn best by reading, listening, moving, touching? Does he do better with men or women? Does he need lots of nurturing or a firm hand? What motivates and interests him?

4. How much time and money can you devote to tutoring? Don't skimp, but be honest with yourself before you start

Know your tutor

Check credentials carefully. Ask questions to see how well their skills match your child's needs:

1. What is your educational background? If the tutor will work on chemistry especially at the A levels, she should must have at least majored in chemistry at the degree level.

2. What type of teaching experience do you have? Look for a tutor who has worked with students similar in age and ability to your child.

3. Try also to learn more about their teaching style and personality.  Ask them how they usually conduct their lessons.  Different tutors have varying methods of teaching.  Some tutors thoroughly believe in a reward system which works very well with younger children while other tutors tend to be more serious and disciplined.  Assess which type of teaching style would suit your child before you make the decision to engage the tutor.
Familiarity with MOE syllabus
Ensure that the tutor is familiar with the syllabus as well, especially since the MOE syllabus has been modified along the years and some tutors may not be familiar with it. In this circumstance, engaging a current MOE school teacher would be ideal.  For instance there is a difference between Higher Chinese, standard Chinese and Chinese ‘B’.  If your child requires a Higher Chinese tutor, ask him/her if they are familiar with the examination format as well as the content required for the subject.

Schedule and rates
And of course, once you are fairly satisfied with the tutor you have met, check if your schedules match.  While most tutors are rather flexible with their time, especially at the start of the year when they are about to take on new students, engaging a tutor around mid-year would mean that you would have to work with whatever time slots the tutor has left.  If budget is an issue, you can gather a couple of your child’s friends (of the same age) and organize small, private group tuition.  The rates charged per kid for home group tuition are often lower than one-on-one sessions.  However, do note that like most group teaching, it means lesser attention time for your kid individually.

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