The multiple choices when your student needs tutoring

TutorDoes your child need a tutor? This is a question many parents wonder about, and statistics show that more than ever are answering, “yes.”

Supplemental education is now a $5 billion industry in the U.S., according to the education research firm Eduventure.

“Finding a good match is always the key to great tutoring,” says Catherine Hudson, a learning specialist and head of the Learning Department at Key School in Annapolis. “Students need someone who understands their perspective and the content.”

From private tutors to learning centers, many options are available when it comes to getting extra help for your child. Here is a breakdown of the pros and cons of different options.

Private Tutoring

Pros: A private tutor can get to know a student’s strengths and weaknesses personally and develop a student-mentor relationship that can last for years through school. Private tutoring is also the most convenient option for parents who want someone to come to their home or a designated location. Private tutors may also be more accessible to students through online or telephone contact.

“One-on-one is the best way to go to make the most progress when you have specific issues, and private tutoring can make the biggest difference in a student’s progress,” Hudson says.

Cons: Usually the most costly option, private tutors can charge an average of $75-150 per hour depending on the subject matter. Parents must also conduct their own background checks and seek references for the tutor.

Learning Centers

Pros: Most national learning centers like Mathnasium or Sylvan Learning have multiple locations, so it’s easy to find a center nearby. Learning centers conduct extensive background checks and require specific credentials for their tutors.

“Learning centers are great for avoiding summer loss or generalized work,” Hudson says. “These centers are fantastic for maintaining progress, and we tell parents to consider them for supplemental learning.”

Cons: Most learning centers operate as a franchise, which can be a drawback for students needing a more personal experience. Learning centers can also be inconvenient for busy parents scheduling around after-school activities, and parents might have to transport kids to the location.

“Learning centers may not be a good match for kids struggling with learning disabilities and very particular issues,” Hudson says.

School Programs

Pros: Getting help right at school is a big plus when it comes to cost and convenience. An in-school peer tutor who has successfully completed the course is likely familiar with the instructor and class expectations. Schools like Key School and St. Mary’s in Annapolis offer in-house resources such as math and writing labs and free after-school tutoring from high school honors students. Most public schools have study programs like Howard County Public Schools Academic Access and Achievement Program.

“The program provides support beyond the school day and includes after- and before-school programs and summer programs, which allow students to develop understanding of skills and concepts taught throughout the school day,” says Zeleana Morris, coordinator of Howard's Academic Access and Achievement Program.

Cons: Parents don’t have any input over the free tutoring that is offered by a school and tutors tend to rotate. The school sets the tutoring hours, so students must work their schedule around tutoring times.

By Katie Riley