Table of Contents
How to Use The Parent’s Guide to Tutoring Success
Respond to Tutor
How to Use the Parent’s Guide to Tutoring Success
The purpose of this parent’s guide to tutoring success is to lead you to and through a successful tutoring engagement.
This guide is organized by operation within the tutoring process. The tutoring process begins with making the decision to find a tutor and ends with your final lesson. As you progress through the process, refer back to the appropriate section within this document.
We will be in regular contact with you throughout your tutoring engagement to remind you of the insights available within this resource.
The Knowledge Roundtable’s mission is to make knowledge accessible to everyone. This document helps us fulfill this mission by providing parents like you with the best known methods for finding the right tutor and shepherding them and your student to success.
This guide is a living document; it is continuously being improved thanks to feedback from parents like you.
Is the way you have approached things better than what’s outlined in this document? Good! Help set the new standard by contributing. To contribute, start by adding a comment below. We will contact you to discuss and/or simply add your contribution to the document.
Before beginning your tutor search, talk to your student to clearly define his or her needs. Be able to answer the following questions.
- Are you seeking a tutor because the student is struggling or because they want to go above and beyond?
- What subject does the student need tutoring in? Drill down as much as possible; it’s easier to find a good match when you know they’re looking for help on Law of Cosines as opposed to just trigonometry or math.
- If they are struggling, why? If they want to excel, why? Dig as deep as possible and try to identify the root cause.
- Confirm that tutoring will, in fact, satisfy the student’s needs at the root cause level. If the root cause is not academic, evaluate alternatives such as counseling.
Once you define the student’s needs, use them to set expectations on the following. Do this in collaboration with the student, unless you have not achieved buy-in yet.
- Duration of tutoring engagement and frequency of lessons
- Budget, including per hour and overall
- Student’s time commitment outside of lessons
- Goals and milestones such as grade improvements, score increases, or confidence boost
All the tutoring hours in the world won’t matter if the student isn’t onboard with it. Follow these steps to achieve buy-in from your student.
- Correct the misconception that only struggling students have tutors. “A” students have tutors, too.
- Connect the benefits of tutoring to something that matters to them. If their interests aren’t academic or professional, use the fact that success in one realm can lead to confidence in all.
- If they have special interests like sports or music, promise to find a tutor that shares those interests.
- If they insist on getting by without a tutor, compromise by having them agree to the goals and milestones you laid out in Set Expectations. If you have enough leverage, get them to agree to working with a tutor if they don’t meet those milestones.
The Knowledge Roundtable’s tutor directory currently has about 500 tutors across the Northeast. Our recruiting methods strike a balance between inclusive and selective, giving you choices, but only good ones. We coach our tutors in best practices to help ensure that the quality of your lessons meets both your expectations and ours.
Our tutor directory might have dozens of tutors near you. To help filter these results and see only the best candidates for your needs, follow the steps below.
- Subject – Select the most specific subject possible. Don’t select Math if you know you need Calculus. Note that elementary level subjects are placed in the Special Education category. We will be phasing out the dropdown list soon, to be replaced with a search box.
- Zipcode – Enter the 5-digit Zipcode of the student’s location. (Secret: you can actually type your town name or even address instead!)
- Distance – Enter the maximum distance of tutors from your zipcode, in miles, for which you want to see results. Most tutors will travel up to 10, 15, or 20 miles. We will be phasing out this field soon, to be replaced with tutors’ pre-selected travel radius.
- Rate – Enter the minimum and maximum price per hour you are willing to pay for your lessons. Each tutor is free to set his or her own rate. Note that many tutors undervalue themselves, and a few overvalue themselves.
- Age – Enter the minimum and maximum age you are willing to work with. Minimum age for acceptance into the directory is 18. We have no maximum.
- Gender – Select Male or Female to see only Male or Female tutors.
Your search results contain a snapshot of the qualifications of each tutor matching your search parameters. A sample result is shown below. To see more details about a particular tutor, click “View Tutor.”
First and foremost when evaluating a tutor’s profile are credentials. Ask yourself the following questions to judge the level of qualification of a tutor.
- Does the tutor have a sufficiently advanced degree for your student’s needs?
- Does the tutor describe their previous tutoring experience (or related experience) in sufficient detail? If so, is that experience relevant to your student’s needs?
Be sure to read a tutor’s testimonials and reference reviews, if available. These can give you insights into whether the tutor produces positive results.
We will soon be adding more profile features that make it easier for you to evaluate whether a tutor’s personality might make them a good match for your student. Until those features are available, use the tutor’s bio and their reviews as your guide.
See Evaluating Profiles for help selecting tutor candidates. Contact at least 3 tutors to increase your chances of connecting with a good match. Avoid becoming too attached to the first tutor you decide is a good candidate by keeping an open mind. Sometimes a tutor whose profile doesn’t seem perfect can be the perfect match.
- Subject – Select the most specific subject possible. Don’t select Math if you know you need Calculus. Note that elementary level subjects are placed in the Special Education category.
- Zipcode – Enter the 5-digit Zipcode of the student’s location.
- Email address – Enter your email address (not the student’s).
- Phone – Enter your phone number (not the student’s).
- Grade level – Select the student’s grade level.
- Start date – Select how quickly you would like lessons to begin.
- Meeting place – Select the place you wish to meet for lessons. Meeting at your home is strongly recommended both for safety reasons and so you can meet the tutor. If this is not an option, meeting at a public library is second best. Parents should make every effort to attend the first session. Meeting at the tutor’s location is rarely appropriate and we will advise against it on most occasions.
- Frequency – Select how frequently you would like lessons to occur. We strongly encourage keeping a consistent weekly schedule as it produces the best results. Select short term if the engagement is expected to last less than a month.
- Top goal – Select the number one goal you wish to accomplish through your lessons. This field is meant to help tutors understand your expectations.
- Availability – Select all time blocks for which your student is available for lessons. Be flexible; try to select at least 10 slots. The more open you are the better your chances of quickly scheduling the first session.
Structure your message as follows to avoid redundancy and to expedite the process.
- Open with a description of your student’s current situation. You don’t need to repeat information provided elsewhere; use this opportunity to go into more depth on important points.
- Follow with a description of the goals you hope to achieve.
- Continue with a description of what you are looking for in a tutor. Is content knowledge all that matters? Do you prefer a certified educator? Previous tutoring experience? What about interests in sports or other topics?
- End with a call to action asking the tutor to contact you as soon as possible.
After you submit your first inquiry, you will be asked to configure settings on the following items.
- Job board – Uncheck this box to exclude your inquiry from our job board. If you uncheck this box, you will not receive applications from tutors with whom you do not initiate contact. Please note that we strip your inquiry of any private information before posting to our job board. Also note that jobs on our board will appear on Indeed.com.
- Inquiry reminders – Uncheck this box to turn off email reminders of unanswered tutor messages. If checked, you will receive email reminders 24 hours and 48 hours after a tutor messages you.
- Text – Uncheck this box to disable text message receipt of tutor messages.
- Address book – To ensure that tutors’ emails land in your inbox and not your spam folder, add firstname.lastname@example.org to your address book. For instructions on how to do so, click here.
We do not send marketing emails (newsletters, promotions, etc.).
Tutors can respond to your messages via email or text message. You will receive these messages according to your Communication Settings. If a tutor you contact does not respond right away, they receive email reminders at 24 and 48 hours. After 72 hours without response, we inform you of their disinterest and automatically close the inquiry. They have the option of reopening their inquiry at any time.
Ask yourself the following questions about a tutors response to determine whether to move forward with them.
- Was the tutor prompt? You want to know that you can rely on your tutor to respond expeditiously to future correspondence.
- Does the tutor seem genuinely interested in working with your student? Thoughtfulness of response and enthusiasm are the primary indicators here.
- Does the tutor still appear qualified and professional based on the content and style of the response?
- Do the logistics seem to work out thus far? Consider travel preferences/meeting place and availability.
For applications from tutors with whom you did not initiate contact, ask yourself the following questions to determine whether to move forward.
- Does the tutor appear qualified and professional based on the content and style of the response?
- Does the tutor seem genuinely interested in working with your student? Thoughtfulness of response and enthusiasm are the primary indicators here.
- Do the logistics seem to work out thus far? Consider location, rate, travel preferences/meeting place, and availability.
Review the tutor’s profile before responding. Note that by responding, you are sharing your contact information with the tutor.
Respond to messages from tutors at your earliest convenience. The sooner you respond, the sooner you can get your student’s lessons started.
Automated reminders are sent to you via email 24 hours and 48 hours after the initial email, unless you opt out of these reminders. If 72 hours pass without response, the inquiry is closed automatically and the tutor is informed. You may still respond after this period by reopening the inquiry from your Inquiry Dashboard.
When you want to move forward with a tutor who confirmed their interest in working you, structure your response as follows for best results.
- Open by stating that you are interested in moving forward to the next step, a call or meeting.
- Answer any questions the tutor posed.
- If the tutor proposed a call or meeting time, accept it or counter with a time that works better for you. If the tutor did not propose a time, propose one, using the tutor’s indicated availability as a guide.
- Indicate your preferred contact method.
- Close by thanking the tutor for their interest and stating that you look forward to working together.
When you are unsure about whether to move forward with a tutor who confirmed their interest in working you, structure your response as follows for best results.
- Open by stating that you might be interested in moving forward to the next step, a call or meeting, but have some questions before doing so.
- First answer any questions the tutor posed.
- Then ask your questions.
- Indicate your preferred contact method.
- Close by thanking the tutor for their interest and stating that you look forward to hearing back.
When a tutor with whom you did not initiate contact applies to work with you, and you are or might be interested in moving forward, structure your message as outlined in Confirm Interest.
If you are not interested in moving forward with a tutor, please politely inform them. Be sure to click the “Decline” link rather than the “Confirm” link. Structure your message as follows for best results.
- Open by thanking the tutor for their interest. Continue to inform them that you do not wish to move forward.
- Explain briefly (in 1-2 sentences) why you do not wish to move forward.
- If you believe this tutor may be a viable option in the future, state that you will get back in touch if things change. You may reopen the declined inquiry at any time from your Inquiry Dashboard.
You may reopen a declined inquiry at any time. Click “Reopen” from your Inquiry Dashboard. Structure your message as follows for best results.
- Open by reminding the tutor that you had been in touch previously.
- Explain briefly (1-2 sentences) what has changed and why you are now interested in working with this tutor.
- Update the tutor on your student’s present situation, if significantly different than described previously.
- Propose a time for a call or meeting.
- Indicate your preferred contact method.
- End with a call to action asking the tutor to contact you with a time that works for them. Qualify with “If you are interested.”
After responding to a tutor, you will receive their actual contact information for use with subsequent correspondence.
To help judge whether a particular tutor might be a match for your student, perform a phone screen prior to scheduling an initial meeting. During the call, bring the tutor’s profile up on our site for your reference.
During this call, ask the following questions to verify credentials and gauge goodness of fit.
- Tell me about your tutoring experience. Do you have any success stories?
- My child’s situation is [such and such]. How would you approach helping him or her?
Give the tutor an opportunity to ask you questions.
If you plan to move forward, make sure the tutor knows the following information by the end of the call.
- Any difficulties your student is facing and what their goals are
- IEP, learning disabilities, or preferred learning styles
- Details about the school, textbook, unit, concepts, classroom style, etc.
- Some of the student’s interests (for rapport building)
- Whether your student needs homework help or something more
Be sure to clear up any logistics before ending the call. If the call goes well, arrange a meeting place and time.
To help evaluate the tutor’s credentials and goodness of fit, ask yourself the following questions.
- Is the tutor’s story consistent with their profile?
- Do they appear to genuinely care about understanding your student’s needs?
- Do they have good ideas about how to help?
Before meeting with your tutor in-person, please ask us to run a background check on that tutor for you, if they do not already have one on file. This service is free of charge for any tutor whom you have an in-person meeting scheduled, but must be explicitly requested.
Meeting at your home is strongly recommended both for safety reasons and so you can meet the tutor. If this is not an option, meeting at a public library is second best. Parents should make every effort to attend the first session. Meeting at the tutor’s location is rarely appropriate and we will advise against it on most occasions.
A parent should be present for all sessions with minors. Please use common sense.
Payments will be made on the website instead of directly to the tutor. If the tutor asks you to pay them directly, please inform us.
You may purchase hours before your first lesson, but it is not required. You will receive an invoice after each lesson.
Double check that you are on the same page with your tutor about the rate being charged. Ask your tutor to be explicit about what time will and will not be charged for, as well as what materials are and are not covered. A complete list of what is and is not chargeable is listed below. The tutor has discretion over whether they in fact charge for time and items which are chargeable (charging is not obligatory); however, they are barred from explicitly charging for any time or items listed as non-chargeable.
A common point of conflict is whether the initial meeting will be billed. This is up to the tutor. It is their responsibility to explicitly tell you whether they will be charging for it. If they fail to receive your consent to charge for a “meet and greet” style meeting in which they do not provide a lesson for your student, but attempt to charge anyway, you will not be obligated to pay for it; however, if in the first meeting the tutor does provide a lesson, and it is not merely an interview, then you will be obligated to pay. Make sure you and the tutor are 100% clear on these points before the first meeting is committed to.
- Initial meeting
- Agreed upon lesson duration
- Extra lesson time in excess of 15 minutes (a scheduled 1-hour lesson that runs 1 hour 20 minutes should be billed at 1 hour 20 minutes, not 1 hour; a 1-hour 10-minute run time must be billed at 1 hour, though)
- Unused lesson time less than 15 minutes (a scheduled 1-hour lesson that runs 40 minutes should be billed at 40 minutes, not 1 hour; a 50-minute run time can be billed at 1 hour, though)
- Remote/extra help, only if compensation explicitly consented to by parent
- Phone screen
- Travel time
- Post-session small talk
- Extra lesson time less than 15 minutes
- Unused lesson time in excess of 15 minutes
- Email conversations
- Time spent submitting lessons
- Remote/extra help, if compensation not explicitly consented to by parent
- Books purchased and given to student
- Parking fees
- Public transportation fees
- Books purchased but not given to student (e.g. instructor copies)
- Supplies as listed under Supplies
The tutor must discuss any difference between scheduled lesson duration and billed duration prior to submitting their lesson details.
Have your student bring the following items to each lesson.
- 2 writing utensils
- Current and past homework assignments, quizzes, and tests
- Calculator (for math tutoring)
- Smartphone, tablet, or laptop, if available (to look up information)
It is strongly recommended that you keep a consistent weekly schedule for lessons. Because of this, we recommend 1) only committing to a time for the first meeting that you can do every week and 2) explicitly stating that you are available at that time every week.
If you need to schedule your initial lesson via email, always propose an exact day and time in addition to describing your overall availability. This can reduce the number of back-and-forths and shorten lead times.
Use a scheduling tool for yourself and/or your student. Whether it’s a paper planner or a digital calendar like Google Calendar, it will help keep track of meeting times and reduce the likelihood of unexpected cancellations.
If the student only needs homework help, make sure they collect all their previous homework assignments, tests, and quizzes. The tutor will need these materials to make an initial assessment.
If the student is preparing for a standardized test, gather the results of previous attempts, including question booklets if possible.
If the student is looking to go beyond the classroom, including with standardized tests, take stock of what materials you already have. If additional materials are needed, have a clear understanding about who is responsible for purchasing them and when. Ideally, the tutor will recommend materials based on their experience, and you will purchase them prior to a first meeting or immediately after (if the decision is dependent on the initial assessment).
Ask the tutor what their cancellation policy is. By agreeing to a first meeting time, you agree to their stated policy. If they do not communicate a policy, you will not be obligated to pay any cancellation fees.
Review Lesson Preparation. Verify that you have gathered all the necessary materials.
Your pre-meeting conversations will have covered things like difficulties and goals, but check in about these things again before the lesson begins to 1) verify that you are on the same page and 2) convey any updates.
If you hit all the main points during your pre-meeting conversations, the tutor should be able to sit down and get started with the lesson within 5 minutes.
Ensure that the student’s workspace meets the following criteria.
- Quiet and free from distraction
- Cleared of unrelated items
- Within earshot of you at all times
A dining room table is usually ideal, or a study room.
Depending on your student’s age, you may opt to sit with the tutor for the first few minutes of the first session. This is less necessary for high school aged students and above. Sitting in on the entire first session is generally not necessary. It is best to sit nearby, giving the tutor enough space to do what they do best.
The student should be prepared to actively participate in goal setting and agenda creation. If you feel that they may need some direction, be present and engaged yourself during this process.
Once goals are set and an agenda is created, the student should comply with the tutor’s instructions as they work together to execute the agenda.
At the end of the first session, talk with your tutor about their initial assessment. Work with them and your student to set expectations and goals for your tutoring sessions. Expectations should not be set at instantaneous miracles, but rather at continuous, incremental improvement in the direction of high-level goals.
Strive for a strength-based approach to goal setting. Don’t get bogged down in what your student is not capable of, but rather focus on what they do well and what they can realistically do to achieve their goals.
However, be aware that ignoring weaknesses and problems may not produce optimal results. It is always better to face the brutal facts and search for root causes, while of course treading lightly on your student’s self-esteem.
Lastly, ask your tutor whether they have assigned any homework to the student. Stay in the know about these assignments so that you can remind your student to complete them later in the week.
Before your tutor leaves, have a discussion about plans for the future. The expectations laid out thus far will enable you and the tutor to make an informed decision about the frequency of lessons and the overall duration. Keep in mind that consistency is ideal; one hour per week should be a minimum.
Schedule the next session right then and there.
If you have doubts about goodness of fit, see Dissatisfaction.
If there are aspects of the first session you are not pleased with, but believe they can be fixed easily, it is best to give your tutor feedback right away.
If, however, you are dissatisfied and don’t see any other recourse than to discontinue sessions, it is recommended that you politely inform the tutor that you do not wish to hold future sessions. It will be very tempting to either say nothing or feign satisfaction and schedule another lesson, only to cancel later by email. Please help your tutor grow by giving them feedback upfront.
Please inform us if your lesson is unsatisfactory. We will gladly waive your bill on the first session and help you find another tutor.
It is the tutor’s choice whether to charge for this initial lesson. See Billing for details.
Remember that you submit payment through our website, not directly to the tutor. See Invoices and Billing for more information.
As soon as possible after the first session, sit down with your student to discuss it. Ask the following questions to evaluate goodness of fit.
- Did you feel comfortable with the tutor?
- Were they helpful?
- Would you like to continue having sessions with them?
If your student’s responses cause you to doubt goodness of fit, let us know as soon as possible. We will be happy to inform your tutor if you do not feel comfortable doing so. We will also help you connect with another, more suitable tutor.
As soon as possible after each lesson, your tutor will submit their lesson details through our website. You will receive an invoice via email from us when they do. This email will contain a link which you can follow to pay your balance.
After receiving the invoice, you have 5 days to review the lesson details before billing is initiated. You may dispute any lesson within its 5-day review period.
For more details on payment policies, click here.
Included with each invoice is a written update from your tutor. Take the time to read each update to stay in tune with your student’s progress.
If you feel comfortable doing so, write a testimonial for your tutor on our site. We offer a 5% discount on all future payments when you do.
You can also rate each lesson on a 5-star scale. All it takes is the click of a button, and doing so really helps other parents as they go through the same hiring process you just went through.
A tutor may assign homework to your student. Stay in the know about these assignments so that you can remind your student to complete them prior to the next session.
Your tutor may be willing to offer remote access to themselves for help outside of sessions (i.e. emailing with questions about homework). If your student is interested in receiving this help, please ask your tutor whether they are willing. Since the tutor is allowed but not obligated to charge for this time, have a clear understanding of expectations for compensation before any extra help is asked for or received.
If the tutor requires compensation for time spent providing outside help, they must explicitly state this and receive consent from you prior to providing and charging for such help.
If they opt to provide extra help without compensation, please ask your student to be respectful of their generosity by not taking advantage of it.
Follow the format outlined in Initial Meeting.
Given that your student’s initial goals and expectations will be set during the first session, it is not necessary to verbally check-in with the tutor after every lesson. Instead, ask for an in-depth update once per month. For shorter-duration, higher-intensity study plans, check-in at least every 5 hours of tutoring.
During these check-ins, have the student present and ask the tutor about progress made towards the agreed upon initial goals.
Update your student’s goals during each check-in. Reevaluate the frequency of lessons to ensure it still aligns with these goals.
When a student is not making satisfactory progress toward the agreed upon goals, several courses of action are available. The tutor check-ins will enable you to choose the correct course.
Whatever the tutor and/or the student are doing isn’t working. Work with them to form a hypothesis about why they think the current situation is not producing results. Discuss this hypothesis together and decide how to test it. Help them also figure out what needs to happen in order for the situation to change favorably.
If the student is making some progress but hasn’t quite gotten traction yet, increasing the frequency of lessons or the duration of each lesson is a possible solution. Increased resources are often only needed in the short-term until traction is achieved.
With no hope for positive change, termination is the right thing to do. Exhaust all other options before terminating your student’s engagement with the tutor, including adapting and doubling down.
After you make your first payment, all subsequent charges are debited automatically after each lesson’s 5-day review period. You will continue to receive invoices for each lesson at the beginning of its 5-day review period.
At the end of the final session, ask the tutor for an assessment as per a normal Parent-Tutor Check-in. During this check-in, take the time to reflect on the student’s progress from start to finish.
If the initial goals were not met, have a candid conversation about whether this is the right time to terminate sessions. Would a few more sessions help reach the agreed upon goals?
If the initial goals were met, celebrate this fact. It is an achievement for everyone.
If you feel comfortable doing so, write a testimonial for your tutor on our site, if you haven’t already. It’s best to write one earlier in order to take advantage of the 5% discount we offer, but even if you don’t write one until the end of your sessions, your tutor still really appreciate it.
Your tutor will submit your final lesson details as usual. You will be billed automatically as usual. If you have unused hours left over, please contact us about receiving a refund.