Guest blogger Rebecca Zook writes on how to find a good tutor when living overseas.
Trying to find a qualified tutor while living abroad can sometimes leave expat parents feeling lost. Whether you’re searching for a precalculus tutor in Beijing or a reading tutor in the UAE, here are some tips on how to find a good tutor while you’re abroad.
Ask your support network. Ask for recommendations from your kid’s teacher, guidance counselor, or school. Ask fellow expat parents for a referral. Try your local embassy or consulate. Send out a tweet, update your facebook status, and post a query on your local expat online message board. Someone you already know might know someone great!
Ask the internet. A lot of independent tutors have websites that include their contact info as well as information about their tutoring experience and philosophy. (Also, lots of tutors also post on craigslist, though markets outside of the US tend to have fewer listings than major US cities.) Look for tutors who put some thought and effort into their website or ad, and keep your eyes peeled for someone who you feel might click with your kid.
Look for individuals. Tutoring works best as a one-on-one mentoring relationship. Look for tutors who promote themselves as individuals, since they’ll have more invested in their work. If you choose to go through an agency, ones that post bios and pictures of their tutors are a better bet than most.
Consider online tutoring. Working with an online tutor from your country of origin can allow you to connect to a much wider selection of potential candidates. If you’re having trouble finding someone locally who is experienced and whose accent your kids can understand, consider working online with a tutor from back home. If you find an online tutor your kid likes, you can continue to work with them through multiple relocations or even after repatriating.
Make contact and ask questions. Once you get a list of potential tutors, call or email them. Ask about the tutor’s experience helping kids with a particular subject, grade level, learning style, or learning disability. You can also inquire about their methods, philosophy, credentials, references, and reasons they became a tutor.
Pay attention to how the interaction feels. Does the potential tutor listen to you carefully? Do they ask you good questions? Do they seem to have a sense of humor? Would you feel comfortable working with them one-on-one? Trust yourself.
Try out the tutor. Try the tutor out for one paid session to make sure they’re a good fit before making a final decision. Make sure your kid takes some recent work so they can go over the parts that are confusing. By the end of the initial meeting, you should have a clear sense of whether or not your kid wants to continue.
Things to look for: Does the tutor pay attention to whether or not the student understands? Do they adjust their approach if the student doesn’t understand? A good tutor will explain things different ways until they find the way that clicks for your kid.
Does your kid feel comfortable with the tutor? The more honest your kid can be about what they don’t understand, the more effective the tutoring will be.
Is the tutor helping? It may take several sessions before you start to see improvement in grades as a result of tutoring, but your kid should feel like they understand things at least a little bit better after the first session.
The bottom line: Trust your own instincts and feelings. Every tutor has their own style, and you want to find someone who works with your kid’s style. The best tutors not only know what they’re talking about and can help your kid understand it, but they’ll also help your kid feel good about the whole process.