• 5 Qualities You Should Look for in a Tutor
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  • Any parent would agree that education is one of the best gifts you can give to your children, thus we find them the best schools, while some even consider homeschooling. Some parents take it upon themselves to tutor their kids after school, while others opt to hire a tutor.

    These are two questions you should ask before making a decision:
    1. Do you have the time to tutor your child yourself?
    2. Do you have the time to study his subjects so you can tutor him well?

    Manette Aquino, blogger, freelance writer, and mom to Romnuel, 11, Reighmann, 9, and Reianne, 8, says she hires a tutor for her kids only when they need to prepare for their quarterly exams and quiz bees. During regular days, however, she tutors them herself.

    "The kids acquire additional information and techniques from their tutor," Manette explains. She says it helps, too, that the tutor understands the needs of each child and has mastery of the subjects.

    Mastery of a certain subject is one of the common reasons why some parents hire a tutor for their kids. Anne Ramos, a licensed teacher and owner of The Learning Library Marikina, confirms this. "For example, most schools now have Singapore Math in their curriculum, which parents [are not familiar with,]" she explains. "It would be best for professional teachers to assist students who are having difficulty with the subject matter."

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    Olga Joson Espino, a private tutor to grade school and high school students and mom to Jade, 7, and Jakei, 6, agrees with Ramos. She says that parents hire tutors primarily because they either don't know the subject matter of their kids' lessons or don't have the time to tutor them. 

    Donna Donor, a licensed teacher and work-from-home mom to son Kib, 8, says, "I don't need to hire a tutor because I'm already a teacher by profession, and I just work from home so I have plenty of time to tutor my son," she says.

    Gini Pagkatipunan, and online English teacher for Chinese students, also does not have a tutor for her son Jairus Vaughn, 6. "It's cheaper that way," she says. "Why should I hire a tutor if I can tutor him myself?"

    Business owner Christine Arteta, who tutors her daughter Avienda, 9, says, "I don't find hiring tutors cost-efficient. I believe that children's learning is a family effort," she says. "It is a parent's main responsibility to personally teach her children and help them learn."

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    The pros
    Donor notes the advantages of hiring a tutor:"Parents who work out of the home can be assured that their children will have a mastery of the concepts taught in school, even if they can't find the time to teach their own children.
    "Tutors also generally know how to encourage children to do better and deal with them in a more professional way -- unlike parents, who may act more as parents that 'teachers' to their kids [during study time]."

    Espino adds, "If you hire a tutor, your child gets academic support from someone with expertise. You also decrease the chances of getting stressed from helping your child with his homework or reviewing him for tests."

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    The cons
    "It can be costly, as most tutors are paid by the hour," Donor says. "The average hourly rate is P350."

    "The fees you'll be paying the tutor for one year would actually be enough for a grand family vacation," Espino adds.
    Having a tutor may also have a negative effect on both children and parents. "Study time can serve as 'quality time' for parents and children," Donor says, "but since parents may not have the patience or the time to teach their children, hirirng a tutor could rob them of that precious time and also even the opportunity of knowing their children's needs in school."

    Espino adds that children might become too dependent on their tutor and "feel incompetent without her help [in the long run]."

    If you're convinced that hiring a tutor is best for your child, here are some qualities to look for:

    1. Patient
    "She also knows how to motivate her tutee," Donor says.

    2. Adaptable
    "She must be familiar with different teaching methods and be able to adjust to her student's learning style and personality," Espino says.

    3. Prepares ahead of time
    "She can also prepare a program for her students or a reviewer for exams," Donor says.

    4. Punctual
    A good tutor should always arrive on time, so that her time with her student is maximized.

    5. Knowledgeable
    "She must not only be knowledgeable about the subjects she teaches -- she must also be able to impart this knowledge to the student," Espino says.

    Espino also suggests that parents get feedback from a potential tutor's other studentsor observe her in action. "If it's possible, ask for a trial session and observe her from afar," she suggests. "After the trial session, ask your child if he is comfortable with the tutor. It may, however, take a few sessions before your child and a potential tutor can establish good rapport, but it's important that he is comfortable studying with the tutor."

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    If you wish to tutor your own child yourself, here are a few tips:

    1. Check for homework.
    One of the first things that mom Gini does when Jairus gets home from school is to check if he has homework. "If he does, we allot at least one hour for it," she says. "Usually, I just read and explain the instructions and let him do it by himself. If he needs help, I explain [things] further.

    "If he's going to take an exam in a subject that he needs to focus on such as Filipino, we make sure that we review at least one week before the exam."

    2. Prepare in advance.
    Mom Manette advises parents to prepare study materials and worksheets in advance. Discuss with your child's teachers which subjects your child should focus on," she says.

    3. Set a schedule.
    "Parents can be a good tutor tot heir own children by providing a specific study time with their children," Donor says.

    4. Coordinate with your child's teacher.
    Donor encourages parents to regularly touch base with their child's teachers about his performance in school so that they "will know how to address their child's school concerns at home."

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    5. Instill good study habits.
    - Establish a study routine as early as preschool.

    - Set specific rules or guidelines such as no playing outside or with gadgets until all assignments have been finished.

    - Encourage your child to prepare for the coming school week's lessons. For example, mom Christine encourages her daughter to "prepare by reading the week's lessons in advance every Sunday."

    - Never do your child's homework and projects for him.

    - Provide guidance, explain topics, and answer questions as needed. This applies especially to preschoolers and to primary grade schoolers. "Once they reach middle school, they would be able to do their homeworkon their own," Espino says.

    Whether or not you get a tutor for your child, remember that, as his parent, you are his first and best teacher," says parenting advocate and speaker Mariel Uyquiengco of TheLearningBasket.com. Thus, it's important that you make learning fun as much as possible," Espino says. "Some kids see studying as a chore and only a means to get high grades," she says. "Show your child how wonderfulit is to learn new things. Make it fun by incorporating their lessons in your daily activities."

    Don't forget: "Believe that they can learn and master their lessons. Believe that they are capable of achieving their goals, Espino adds. "If your child feels that he has your support, he will be more confident and will be more open to learning new things. He will also be more diligent and persevering." 

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    This article first appeared in the July 2015 issue of Smart Parenting magazine. Minor edits have been made by the Smartparenting.com.ph editors.

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