Questions about Tutoring: What Makes a Good Tutor?

By Dr. Rick Bavaria

Elementary School

Every student needs a little extra help from time to time. This help can come in the form of a study buddy, helpful older sibling, resourceful teacher or professional one-on-one tutor.


We know that tutoring works, but what makes a good tutor? Here are attributes that you should look for to find the best fit for your child. A good tutor . . .


1.  . . . is trained. Tutors who receive continuous training are more effective than tutors who don’t. Big surprise. If you’re looking for a tutor, ask about the training he or she has received. Did you know that all Sylvan tutors are trained and certified in Sylvan instructional techniques?

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2.  . . . works with your child’s classroom teacher if you want. Tutoring is most impactful when it’s coordinated with classroom instruction.

3.  . . . assesses. Before tutoring begins, kids should have an assessment so the tutor knows the pupil’s strengths and needs. There’s no sense wasting time on material they have already mastered or putting off getting to what’s needed.

4.  . . . has a good track record. Before hiring a tutor, check out his or her credentials, experiences, ideas about learning and fondness for kids. Lots of people know math, for example, but not everyone can teach it. It’s also helpful to get recommendations from other parents.

5.  . . . makes learning fun and simple. When your child is having difficulty, the last thing you need is to complicate life any more than it already is. Tutoring should be easily implemented and “feel right.” Trust your instinct. Learning isn’t always fun but there’s nothing wrong with making it fun as often as possible. If a creative tutor can inject some humor and delight into difficult lessons, go for it.

6.  . . . is timely. The worst mistake you can make is to wait before getting help. As soon as you suspect your child is having difficulty, get help. I speak from experience – I’ve seen it happen time and again.

7.  . . . uses some technology. Most kids are motivated by and attracted to technology.  The technology should be interesting, interactive, simple and easy to use.  It shouldn’t replace plenty of face-time with the tutor, though.

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8.  . . . provides value. Think of tutoring as one of the most important investments you will make, with a payoff in priceless confidence.


It’s hard for children to ask for help. They often do so in indirect ways – sulking, arguing about school and homework, losing interest or bringing home low grades. Show them that everyone, adults included, need a little help now and then. That’s why we have mentors, role models, coaches and heroes. It’s brave to ask for help.


Please contact your local Sylvan if you have any questions about our tutors or programs! With our personalized learning plans, taught by our expert tutors, we deliver real results.