Private Tutor vs. Tutoring Center

Stumped on finding an affordable local tutor?

Hiring a tutor for your child is not a decision most parents take lightly. Often, the family has tried having a parent help with homework, encouraging the child to stay after school to meet with the teacher, and extra practice in workbooks or on websites like Khan Academy. Sometimes, in spite of all these efforts, the child needs extra support to master the skills he is missing and meet his goals at school. There are many ways to find a tutor, and in this post I will outline some pros and cons of finding a private tutor and attending a commercial tutoring center. And I’ll try to answer the question, “how much does tutoring cost?” and give you some tips on finding affordable tutors near you.

Getting Connected

Unless you live in a very rural area, tutoring centers like Sylvan and Kumon are heavily advertised and widely available. You might drive by them in your errands or see their advertisements in your local paper or on Facebook. A tutor is just a click or call away. These big companies have a staff of people ready to talk with you about your request and match you to an available tutor. Other companies, often local franchises, use the same basic model as the big companies, so there are almost always lots of tutoring companies to choose from.

On the other hand, finding the right private tutor can take a little more effort. Local teachers often tutor students in their school community. Other parents hire high school or college students to tutor their children. For some students, this is enough. For students with greater needs, like kids with dyslexia or dysgraphia, or students who need help with executive functioning skills, it is important to find an expert who can offer your child the best strategies for learning. To find a tutor that is a good match for your child, you may need to email, call and interview more than one person to find the best fit. It is easy to use an internet search to find tutors in your subject in your area. Online tutoring is another awesome way to work with the best tutor you can find without having to worry about travel or geographical limitations. Meeting with a tutor through video conferencing opens up your search to the best available tutor in the world, not just the best tutor in your town.

Scheduling

Tutoring centers are flexible and convenient. They are often open all afternoon and evening and they usually have many tutors they can assign you to. You will be able to set up a tutoring schedule that can fit in with your busy life and your child’s schedule of sports and activities.

Independent tutors are individual human beings, so they may or may not be able to meet your exact scheduling needs. But while they may not have unlimited hours to offer you, independent tutors are often willing to be flexible to best meet your needs. Offering flexible arrangements like every other week tutoring, or changing your time slot if needed are benefits that you can get with an independent tutor. Instead of working with an employee of a tutoring company, who may have fixed work hours, you can choose an independent tutor who sets his own hours.

Curriculum

In my experience, curriculum varies widely for all kinds of tutoring. Some use off the shelf workbooks, while other large tutoring companies have developed their own proprietary curriculum. Something that may or may not be a good fit for your child’s needs. Before you commit to a tutoring center, be sure you know what type of curriculum they use, and also what kind of assessments they offer to make sure your child is learning what they came in to learn.

The same is true for individual tutors. While they often have more flexibility than tutors at a tutoring center, they may not have as many resources available as a tutor from a larger company. On the other hand, independent tutors can often work more flexibly, using the student’s homework or interests to work on skills.

The Personal Touch

Finding a tutor at a tutoring center can be a bit of a gamble. Maybe an attentive staff member will notice important details and assign the perfect match. Or maybe your child will meet with the next tutor who has an opening. While tutoring centers want you to stay with them, and for your child to be successful, they don’t all make it easy to find a tutor who is a good fit.

Private tutors see fewer students at a time than a large tutoring center, so they tend to know their students, and their parents, better than the staff of a large tutoring center would. One of my favorite things about the job is the connections I get to build with students and families over many years.

Cost

I saved this for last, because the cost of tutoring varies widely depending on what services you are looking for and where you live. Tutoring centers often offer group tutoring, which can keep costs lower. They may offer pricing deals if you buy a block of tutoring hours, enroll more than one child, or commit to a long-term contract. When you buy tutoring from a tutoring center, keep in mind that your fee pays for the physical surroundings as well as the support staff and administrative staff running the center. The tutor who works directly with your child probably will not be highly paid. As a result, these jobs don’t attract the most highly-qualified and experienced tutors.

The cost for private tutoring varies, too. You can hire a high school or college student for not much more than you might pay a babysitter. Hiring a professional tutor, someone with an education degree and teaching experience, or someone with a specialty like learning disabilities tutoring or test preparation tutoring costs more. And a cheap tutor isn’t always a good deal. An experienced professional tutor can assess your child and pinpoint the problem your child is having. She may be able to correct the problem in just a couple of well-planned lessons. An inexpensive, inexperienced tutor might put in many hours with your child without dramatic results.

The Final Decision

There is no one “best” or “right” kind of tutoring. Students and families can find almost any tutoring solution to meet their needs, from meeting with a local college student at the library after school to having a private tutor come to your home, to taking your child to a small group class at a large tutoring center. As you shop for a tutoring solution for your child, think about your child’s personality and academic needs. Consider your family’s schedule and other family members’ needs.

The bottom line is, tutoring can be a significant investment of money and time. Like with any big purchase, ask many questions and try out some options to see what works best. The right tutor for your family gives you the answers you are looking for. They were able to clearly explain what they will do with your child in lessons and why. They also ask you questions about your child as a learner, and as a person. In the end, that connection between a tutor and a student is one of the things that makes tutoring different from classroom learning.

Unless you live in a very rural area, tutoring centers like Sylvan and Kumon are heavily advertised and widely available. You might drive by them on your errands or see their ads on Facebook. A tutor is just a click or call away. These big companies have a staff of people ready to talk with you about your request and match you to an available tutor.

Finding the right private tutor can take a little more effort. Local teachers often tutor students in their school community. Other parents hire high school or college students to tutor their children. For some students, this is enough. For students with greater needs, like those who need tutoring for dyslexia or dysgraphia, or students who need help with executive function, it is important to find an expert who can offer your child the best strategies for learning. To find a tutor that is a good match for your child, you may need to email, call and interview more than one person to find the best fit. It is easy to use an internet search to find tutors in your subject in your area.

Online tutoring is another awesome way to work with the best tutor you can find without having to worry about travel or geographical limitations. Meeting with a tutor through video conferencing opens up your search to the best available tutor in the world, not just the best tutor in your town.

If you are looking for a tutor to support your child’s writing or reading, please contact us today for a no-cost demo lesson. See how online tutoring can help your child!

4 thoughts on “Private Tutor vs. Tutoring Center”

  1. I’m glad you said that independent tutors are more flexible than large tutoring companies are. My daughter has what one might say is a very unique way of learning, so I need someone who can explain it to her in a way she understands. I’ll have to look at getting a private tutor for her so that she can finally pass math.

  2. I like how you said that independent tutors practically have no limits on what they can teach. I like this because it means I can work with them to make a set schedule for my kids. That way my kids will learn ahead of everyone else.

    1. Hi Franklin, I think that’s very true. You can set up a plan that is what your student needs without having to think about the whole class.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *