Should I Hire a Private Tutor for My Child?

This article originally appeared in The Good Web Guide.

Have you heard about the private tutoring ‘arms race’? Is ‘everyone’ now employing a private tutor for their child? And does it worry you that as a parent you’re not doing enough for your child’s education?

Every parent naturally wants to do the best for their child, but scare stories about the private tuition ‘epidemic’ cause unnecessary anxiety among parents. Not every child needs a private tutor. And parents who employ a tutor should enter the process with open eyes.

No Longer for the Privileged Few

First of all, tuition is primarily an effective medium of instruction, and not a subject for dinner-party angst. Its benefits are no longer only for the privileged few, as demonstrated by the government decision to employ thousands of one-to-one tutors in schools. A study by Edge Hill University revealed that over 2,500 low achieving six-and-seven-year-olds in England achieved four times the normal rate of progress in maths after only a 20-hour educational intervention.

Research also shows that one-to-one tuition achieves its effects in an unexpected way. Evidence collated by the University of Pittsburgh refutes the traditional assumption that employing an expensive tutor is necessary. That’s because, rather than the tutor’s instructional methods being paramount, it is the constructive contributions of students themselves which are responsible for their progress. This is important for parents because it suggests that a novice tutor (or parent, sibling or friend) with a good grasp of the subject can also achieve excellent results.

Hiring a Tutor

For a parent interested in hiring a tutor, several other factors need to be taken into account. Most obviously, what is the best way to find a tutor safely? Word of mouth is perhaps the easiest solution, since you can listen to the recommendations of those whom you trust. Using a tuition agency will also work for some. Although there is an advantage in the personal matching service offered by an agency, in harsh economic times this may come at too high a price for many.

Finally, an online service such as can be a good option. Parents contact tutors for free, and so costs are low. As a result, it is then up to the parent to follow up a tutor’s references themselves. Tutors on this site not only write extensively about their background, but submit at least one article on their expertise, thus helping parents decide who to hire.