More and more private tutoring  is fast becoming and option for parents wanting to help their children, to improve their grades, catch up with classes,  and develop good study habits. However, parents should consider that there are a number of important things to consider before hiring a private tutor, whether you seek an online or private tutor.

Consider primarily of requesting references from past students and their parents when considering a tutor's candidacy.  A tutor's past teaching experience in the particular subject is essential,  along with their qualifications, personality and motivation.

It takes time to find a tutor that may suit your child, so consider taking the proper amount of time to find one.  Through a preliminary interview you can get to know your Tutor, ask questions and is essential in order to ensure that you choose someone trustworthy with your child,  within a safe environment and conducive to learning. Taking the necessary steps to find a good tutor ensures that the lessons are  worth the time and money you put in.

Eliminate risks and hazards at home!
Always ensure that your work space is neat, tidy and well organised! Photo via Visualhunt

As a parent or caregiver, it's always important to be mindful and cautious when seeking someone who will work closely with your child, be it a tutor, a babysitter or a mentor. So here's some of our advice on how to best select a private tutor.

What qualities should I look for in a private tutor?

Before beginning your search for a private tutor, it's a good idea to make a list of important qualities you would consider in selecting someone to work with your child.

Obviously, academic credentials are essential to know if they have the right knowledge and skill set to be able to teach your child. Past teaching experience is an important quality as it provides evidence that they are able to transmit and teach their subject of expertise.

You may wish to ask your prospective candidate if they have any teaching accreditations or qualifications, and don't be afraid to ask to see them! It's standard practice to ask to see certificates, diplomas or qualifications for job applications, and this is particularly important if you are seeking to hire someone with a specific academic criteria in mind.

In Canada, you may also ask for a Criminal Record Check before hiring a private tutor which can be obtained from your local police station. Some employers may also ask for a CRC, and you may be required to give your fingerprints. Although it's not a legal requirement in Canada for a tutor to have a background check, it's a matter of personal preference. If you would feel more reassured having one, then you may choose to do so.

It may also be a good idea to search for a tutor who has solid experience of working with young children or vulnerable people. Whether you've found a private tutor through word of mouth, your local ads or through social media, then you may wish to ask for references from their former students to get a better idea of what kind of person they are.

You may wish to get letters of reference or contact details of current or former students, if you wish to get in touch with them and ask any specific questions about your tutor. Don't be afraid to follow up all your reference letters with a quick phone call

You can find tutors in all Canadian cities on Superprof;

  • Toronto tutors
  • Vancouver tutors
  • Halifax tutors
  • Edmonton tutors
  • All types of tutoring throughout Canada

 Conducting a preliminary interview with your tutor

You may also wish to interview your tutor before deciding to hire them on a long-term basis to work with your child. The interview can go as you like, it doesn't have to take long but it could give you an idea of their personal motivations, their personality and how they communicate. Meeting someone face to face is always quite different from discussing over the phone, so a face to face interview can be another step to reassure you.

Get to know your tutor before starting lessons!
You may wish to do your interview in person, by phone or via Skype. Source: Photo via Visual hunt

Although a phone interview may be more convenient, it's always best to interview your tutor in person, especially if they will be working with your child in person on a regular basis. If you are hiring someone to give online tutoring classes, then you may wish to do a Skype interview to get to know your tutor a bit more. When conducting the interview, it's important to consider  the cost of home tutoring at this point as well.

It's a good idea to prepare a list of questions in advance to ask during your interview. You can ask questions about your tutor's professional experience, their education and qualifications and also more general questions which will help you to get to know them better and to understand their motivations.

Always ask open and proactive questions in effort to provoke a thoughtful response. Be aware of how they respond to your questions, their tone of voice and their body language during the interview. You should have have the impression that they are approachable, friendly and serious about tutoring during the interview.

During your interview, you should also discuss where and when the tutoring sessions will take place. You should discuss the most convenient location for both you and your tutor, whether it be at your home, a local library, or the student's home. Bear in mind that there may be extra transportation fees if you ask your tutor to come to your house for lessons. As a parent for younger children in particular, you may prefer to be present during the lessons to check in on your student's progress.

If you hold the lessons at your home, always select a suitable place to hold the lessons, such as study table or dining table with a table and chairs and proper lighting. Make sure that you determine the material that you'll need for lessons ( textbooks, notebooks, pencils, etc.)

After you conduct your first interview, it's a good idea to trust your own instincts about a person. If you don't get a good vibe from someone, or you feel that their experience on paper doesn't match up to the person you've just met then move on to find another one.

What questions should I ask my tutor?

  • What experience do you have that would be relevant ?
  • Could you provide a list of readings and textbooks that could help my child?
  • How do you evaluate and measure progress?
  • What rate do you charge? Do you charge extra for transportation?
  • When are you available? What does your schedule look like?
  • How many hours a week would you recommend?
  • Where would you like to hold the lessons?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • Do you have any previous teaching experience?
  • Do you provide lessons online?
  • Do you set homework and tests?
  • How well do you know your subject?
  • Do you develop a study plan?
  • What are your career goals and objectives?

How can I keep my child safe during private lessons?

Once you've hired a private tutor, it's important to always have your child's safety in mind during the lessons. There are of course a number of risks involved when hiring a tutor. This is why it may be a good idea to get a background check, consider other health and safety risks involved and to ask the tutor whether they have private insurance.

As a parent or caregiver, you want to may conduct a few checks before your lessons to ensure that your child feels safe.

Also make sure that the space in which you are holding your lessons is safe. If the lessons are in your own home, set up a tidy desk in a well-lit room. If your child is going to the tutor's make sure to have a look at work area and be sure to check for any possible health and safety hazards.

You may also wish to ask your tutor whether they have personal insurance, a criminal record or background check for an added peace of mind.

If you can't be there to supervise during the lesson, then make sure you are always available by telephone. Ask your student to leave their mobile phone with them with sound during the lesson.

Always be the one to drop off your child to lessons or designate someone you trust to drop your child off to their lesson. If they are old enough to travel on their own to their lessons, ask them to send you a message to let you know they've arrived.

Be sure to notify your tutor if your child has any medical conditions or allergies. If your child has an allergy make sure that they travel with an epipen or with medications they may need in case of emergencies.

If your child is taking online lessons with a tutor, then some of these concerns may not be as relevant. However, it's still important to keep an eye open to ensure that the lessons are running smoothly and safely, particularly for younger children.

For more information, check out our article on the pros and cons of private tutoring.

Internet safety is crucial with online tutoring
Always keep an eye on your kids during online lessons. Photo via

To keep your child safe during online tutoring lessons, set up your computer in the living room or an open space in your house where you'll be able to supervise. Also ask your child to see the files shared and documents that they've worked on during the lesson to make sure that everything is going well.

Don't forget, that meeting your tutor via video call and in person before the lessons begin is a great way to get to know them before committing to lessons in the long term.

Don't hesitate to check out other online resources as well as contacting your local and regional police website for more tips about child safety.

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Yvette is a freelance Canadian writer living in Paris. She spends her time between Toronto and Paris and likes to travel and learn. She's the proud mom of two strong minded women and enjoys her free time giving back to her communities.