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Which Private Tutor Should I Choose for My Child?

From Imogen, published on 24/05/2017 We Love Prof - UK > Academia > Maths > How To Choose the Right Maths Tutor

Competition among maths tutors in the private tuition market is on the up.

This is beneficial for those looking for a tutor, who will have a lot to choose from to learn maths, but how can you be sure you’re making the right choice?

For example, would you be happy getting help from an undergraduate studying for a maths degree?

Growing numbers of engineers, university students and others who are passionate about a certain subject are offering tutoring services.

Having a good understanding of the applications of maths is incredibly important, however, teaching methods vary among tutors. You need to be able to find out the pros and cons of each tutor to find one that suits your needs.

Would you prefer the help of a certified teacher whose approach may be similar to that of the math curriculum? OR would you feel more comfortable with a more liberal approach?

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Choosing a Tutor Based on Teaching Experience

Maybe you’ve noticed you’ve child start to struggle this year, or perhaps they’ve been getting unusually low grades on their maths tests.

Whether you’re a parent of a child who is experiencing difficulties with primary maths, a GCSE student worried about exams or an A level maths student who needs help keeping up, a private tutor could be just what you need.

After all, maths is such an important subject in anyone’s academic career and neglecting it is not recommended.

Being able to teach on a one to one basis takes different skills Teaching experience in the classroom may not be enough if you’re looking for tailored support ¦ source: Pixabay

Maths equations and trigonometry are just the beginning, but maths is so much more than that – it’s a way to make sense of the world we live in.

For A level students, maths is even more important since it could determine your career path.

The wide range of jobs that involve math is just what makes taking maths A level so attractive. And even if you don’t choose to go down a mathematical route, it still looks great on your CV.

In short, pay attention to maths in school!

Math tutoring can help immensely if you’re starting to fall behind in class and need an extra bit of encouragement.

Although one on one tutoring costs money, you get what you’re paying for: effective teaching.

So before you make such a commitment, make sure you choose the right one!

To be certain of whether or not you’re making the right decision, we recommend you ask the maths teacher about their experience of home tutoring – make sure you do this before your first lesson. Even if they are a certified teacher, giving supplemental instruction on a one to one basis is completely different from teaching a class of 30. Questioning them adds an extra level of precaution so that you don’t hand over your money to someone you believe to be inexperienced.

If you decide to go through a tutoring company such as Superprof, you’ll see that a lot of tutors have a document detailing their previous experience to give you peace of mind.

Tutoring websites also give students to opportunity to leave feedback on their tutors, so you can see what other people think before making a decision on which on is right for your needs.

This has proved to be an effective way for parents and students to find the ideal tutor for them.

Self-Taught Maths Tutors

Should you trust the self-taught tutors?

The answer is up to you.

When you’re searching for someone to coach you in mathematics, you’ll find may tutors advertising various levels, from KS1 maths to year 7 maths and even A level further maths. It’s not just the level that will vary either, some tutors advertise specific disciplines of the subject including:

  • Algebra
  • Geometry
  • Trigonometry
  • Tractions
  • Calculus
  • Probability

Depending on what you need help with, you may be limited to only a handful of tutors to choose from – but this is positive! It means that you will be tutored according to your needs.

However, this isn’t the only thing you need to consider.

There are plenty of people ready to share their knowledge to help you Why not turn to a physicist for maths help? ¦ source: Pixabay

It’s highly possibly you’ll come across a number of self-taught tutors.

But this is part of the magic of home tutoring; you will be able to escape the strict framework of the maths national curriculum and receive personalised tuition that works.

What we are trying to say is don’t be focussed on only looking for university lecturers, researchers or certified teachers. The world of private tuition has a rich community of self-taught tutors who have a wealth of knowledge to be shared as maths tutors, chemistry tutors, physics and maths tutors, tutors in engineering – the list is endless!

This could also include undergrad students who study maths and looking to become a tutor to top up their pocket money, or lecturers wanting to share what they’re passionate about on a one on one basis.

But can they be trusted in the run up to an important exam?

Whether it’s an entrance exam, GCSE maths revision, or A level maths test preparation, it’s up to you to decide if their teaching fulfils your needs.

Moving away from the strict framework of the national curriculum can be refreshing and teach the student that maths is fun!

Remember, it’s always good to look at things from two different angles.

Private Tutor vs. Certified Teacher: Pros and Cons

When you make the decision to start looking for academic tutoring, you have a choice between people who do tutoring jobs in their spare time and those with teaching qualifications.

Perhaps one of your friends is a maths teacher and you want to ask them to help your child go through some AQA maths A level past papers or GCSE OCR maths past papers in preparation for their exams.

Maybe you’re looking for a full-time private tutor with all kinds of teaching certificates.

Or maybe you’d prefer someone who is in the education system themselves and can offer their help in maths.

What are the pros and cons of each approach?

The Flexible Schedule of a Home Tutor

The way maths lessons are delivered in schools means that you child may be steered in any direction before they’ve got to grips with the previous topic. With around 30 pupils to look after, it’s impossible for the teacher to cater for the needs of every individual.

This rigid way of teaching maths for kids has maybe put your child off education altogether.

Benefit from the experience of sixth formers or undergrads A different perspective could be just what you need to inspire a love of maths ¦ source: Visualhunt

To reinvigorate their passion for maths and give them the motivation to succeed, why not find a one to one tutor?

A level and undergrad students are particularly useful since they are familiar with the school system and can, therefore, help pupils understand what exactly exam boards are looking for.

The one-size-fits-all approach to schooling inevitably leaves some pupils feeling pessimistic. This is where the tutor steps in to show them their strengths and build their self-esteem.

One advantage of recruiting a full-time professional or self-taught private tutor is the freedom in their teaching methods.

This includes the freedom to approach a subject differently than the education system according to the pupil’s individual learning style.

Such approached include using different media including tablets and smartphone to play interactive maths games, for instance, or visiting maths websites on a laptop.

Students also feel more at ease with private tutors, who are not feared the way school teachers are. This is because they come down to the tutee’s level and work their way up the learning ladder together with them.

However, there is a risk of too much freedom with such methods which could lead to straying too far from the objective.

The Conventionality of a Certified Teacher

Some parents worry about the children reaching the specific school standards and therefore choose to contact tutors with experience teaching national curriculum maths.

After all, why not take this approach? There are plenty of well-trained certified teachers offering private tuition, so it would be a shame not to take advantage of their knowledge and experience with maths papers.

This is the best way to keep in line with the school syllabus.

The idea behind this is staying within the pupil’s comfort zone with a familiar approach to learning.

There are many advantages to this method including focussing on maths worksheets tailored to specific exam boards. For example, a teacher who has experience teaching AQA maths GCSE or A level Edexcel maths in school will be able to work through AQA GCSE maths past papers or Edexcel maths A level past papers with the student.

Working on difficult math problems during sessions can get students used to the general format of the exams and put them at ease when it comes to a big maths mock test or exam day.

However, the disadvantage is that it could bore the student, who already spends around 30 hours a week with the same framework.

Some students may begin to feel overwhelmed as the lines between home and school are blurred, making maths a sensitive subject and discouraging them even more.

What Questions Should You Ask Your Potential Maths Tutor?

When looking for extra help, you’ll whittle down your findings to the best tutors you find.

Whether they focus on maths homework help, academic support, home tutoring, or online tutoring, you need to organise a mini-interview in which you will ask them more about their work as a math tutor to see if they’re right for you.

Have a mini telephone or face to face interview with each tutor to get a feel for their teaching Visualise your perfect tutor and use their qualities in your questions! ¦ source: Pixabay

In case you need some inspiration, here are some examples of the questions you could ask:

  • How long have you been a private tutor?
  • Can you provide any references?
  • What qualifications do you have?
  • What are your hourly rates?
  • Are there any area of maths you specialise in? (E.g. algebra, calculus, mechanics, etc.)
  • Do you teach any other subjects? (Maths and physics tutor, for example)
  • Do you come to the student’s house do deliver your lessons?
  • Have you ever taught a student in a similar situation to our child/me?
  • Can you help boost the student’s grades?

These conversations will be invaluable when if comes to making a final decision on which tutor is best for you.

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