Are you looking for a great math tutor but don’t know what to look for in a tutor? When you interview a tutor, you want to make sure they are up to the task. A good idea is to ask them questions about their tutoring experience, methods of tutoring, how they gauge their students’ progress, and more. When you pick a good dentist, you want a good one – not one who would numb the wrong tooth. Deciding which math tutor to hire is just as important. Here are 4 considerations to make when hiring a math tutor:
- The Socratic method.
- Building a rapport with the student.
- Going beyond math.
A good tutor cares deeply about their students and roots for them as they do better and better. A great tutor will never give up on a student and support them during their most difficult moments. If your child takes a step back from getting A’s. The tutor should encourage the student, letting them know that taking a small step back after taking large steps forward is perfectly normal, and encourage the student to continue their efforts so that they can get back on track to achieving their academic goals.
Math covers a lot of ground. High school math accelerates in difficulty from Algebra I to Honors Precalculus to advanced calculus and in college – even farther. A good tutor might have to look at a few formulas here and there, but they should have command over the subject. That’s not to say that a precalculus tutor should be able to solve every problem in the book without any need for reflection. But if you or your child find that the tutor is constantly looking up and reading material, wasting valuable time during which they should be engaged in explanations and guiding the student, you should consider looking for a more prepared tutor.
Great math tutors don’t lecture endlessly. If you want a lecture, listen to your schoolteacher. If you want to think critically and reason through word problems on your own, then you should look for a math tutor who guides you through the math problems, rather than spoon-feed you.
A good tutor makes a student feel comfortable. When a tutor is so brilliant that they don’t understand a student’s mind block, the student might find it hard to bond with the tutor. Don’t look for a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering to tutor your 8th grader. A great tutor makes the student feel at ease, not inadequate. Instead, look for a personable and supportive tutor who has challenged themselves in their studies, and is equipped to challenge your child in math.
An ideal math tutor has taken courses in science, economics, finance, engineering, or in other fields with applications in math, so that they can help a student understand why math is important in their daily lives. A pure mathematician might not themselves understand applications, and they might not interest a student. Look for a tutor who adds application problems and makes math interesting and even exciting. Students who begin to enjoy math will do better because they will be more motivated.
Dan Eiblum is the president of TutorPro (www.thetutorpro.org), an in-home tutoring agency serving Greater Washington D.C.