Because tutoring costs can add up fast, parents may want assurance that the tutoring will help their child. Many educators note that the individualized attention offered by tutors can indeed help students to better understand subject areas and improve grades. Selecting the appropriate tutoring service or individual tutor can be the key to success.
Before searching for a professional tutor, parents should ask if their children qualify for free tutoring services under the Federal No Child Left Behind law. The information should be available from your child’s school or school district, or your state’s Department of Education.
If you need to hire a tutor, here are some ways to help defray tutoring costs:
Tighten your belt: Tutoring is not inexpensive. Fees can range from $20 to $200 an hour, with some elite services charging even more. It’s a good idea to review your discretionary spending and cut back on various items, such as cable TV packages, dinners out, and drinks from the local coffee shop. Reining in unnecessary spending can help curtail the cost of tutoring.
Check out any promotional offers: If you choose to hire a tutoring company, check to see if they offer any financial incentives for customers. Some of the larger companies offer enticements, such as coupons for new students, as well as payment plans.
Know what you are buying: Always ask about the tutor’s qualifications when interviewing individual tutors or learning centers. You need to know about the tutor’s certifications, degrees and years of experience. Find out if a tutor teaches many different subject areas or is an expert in a particular field such as math or reading. Get clear answers about contracts, payments and other logistical issues. In other words, know what you’re buying.
Don’t pay for what you don’t need: If you hire a tutoring company, don’t blindly shell out money for all services that the company offers. For example, the company may want to perform assessment tests to determine your child’s achievement level. However, that information may already be available to you directly from your child’s school. Just ask the guidance office of your child’s school for your child’s achievement test scores, and then give a copy to the tutoring company.
Consider a group discount: See if you can put together a small group of students with academic needs similar to your child’s. Select a tutor who has the appropriate experience and then negotiate a group discount. Split the discounted cost with the other parents. It’s best not to make the group too large, given that each student will need individual attention.
Hire a college student: Hiring a college or graduate student tends to cost much less than hiring a tutoring service. Check with schools in your area about hiring a tutor. Carefully review the student’s references, grades, transcript and resume (nix candidates whose resumes have typos). After you agree on a starting fee, set up a tryout period to see if your child improves. If all goes well, offer to hire the tutor for additional sessions. Ask the tutor for a discount for tutoring on a long-term basis.
Enlist volunteers: Organizations that advocate for youngsters may well have adult volunteers who provide free tutoring. Check with local chapters of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, YMCA and United Way, as well as with local churches and religious groups. If they do not offer free tutoring, they may be able to help you locate free or discounted tutoring services in your area.
Use the library: Ask your local librarian to help you find online sites that may have information about prospective tutors whom you may wish to interview. Also ask the library for information about online tutoring services and about sites that assist students with homework. Some libraries may offer free tutoring services at the library, or free space where your child can work with his or her paid tutor.