A math tutor is someone who provides help for in mathematical problems.
Even though anyone endowed with maths competence could give maths help, there are certain qualities that distinguish a good educator of maths from an average one, or even a bad one.
Finding a good tutor can also be difficult.
But if you know what you’re looking for, then it can be an experience well worth the time.
So what qualities should you be looking for in a math tutor?
- An enjoyable personality
Nobody learns well from a complainer.
Your child may already have mixed feelings about getting extra help in math, especially if they suffer from math anxiety.
So make sure the time spent doing extra math is enjoyable.
2. Educational Background
An effective math tutor must have the ability to master concepts they are teaching to others.
Having a strong understanding of mathematical concepts will help the tutor and your child.
When teaching elementary and middle school students a high school diploma is the minimal expectation.
Math concepts on the high school and collegiate level may require a tutor with an undergraduate degree, preferably an individual with a major emphasizing mathematics engineering or science.
- Previous Experience
Communication skills are key component needed when helping others learn.
Delivering materials to meet the individual`s needs is another important characteristic of an effective tutor.
Previous teaching or tutoring is a highly recommended quality when searching for an ideal tutor.
Experience at the grade level of your student is also something to look for when selecting an individual.
The education field is always changing therefore good tutors will work for companies that provide on-going professional development or seek continual training themselves.
- An ability to teach
A good math tutor will tailor the instruction to the pace of the student.
If the tutor fails to check for mastery of a concept before progressing, or uses confusing explanations, then the student will get more frustrated and confused.
- Assessment For Strengths And Weaknesses
Spending time on previously mastered material is boring.
On the other hand, skipping foundational skills leaves critical learning gaps unaddressed.
That leads to problems down the road.
- A structured curriculum
A curriculum outlines the progression of skills, gives examples, practice and follow-up.
It also refers the tutor back to previous skills if a learning gap is discovered.
Trying to tutor without a curriculum is like trying to build a house without a blueprint.
You may end up with a structure resembling a house but lacking key features, like space for the bathroom plumbing.
- Individualized Attention
This doesn’t mean that the tutor ignores the textbook material, but that they recognize and take advantage of opportunities that a one-on-one tutoring setting makes possible.
Math tutoring allows the tutor to teach the material in the right way and at the right pace for the student.
A good math tutor will identify their students’ learning styles and adjust their lessons accordingly.
You can read more about How to identify our student learning styles from here.
More and more case studies have proven that students always learn best when instruction is delivered to meet their individual needs.
Also one-to-one interaction is important to ensure that you get the maximum assistance from math tutoring.
- Sense of Empathy
The best maths tutors empathise with their students.
They put themselves in their pupil’s shoes in order to understand the difficulties they are experiencing, and tailor teaching methods to suit the learner’s strengths whilst working on their weaknesses.
A popular method which is used by good math tutors to ease their students into maths with minimal anxiety is to disguise learning as play;
By incorporating mathematical concepts into a game, you can get a student’s mathematical brain in gear without them even noticing!
Playing math games at the start of your lessons is a great way to help your student relax before they start learning about and using maths in a serious context.
- Ability to ask questions
When you imagine a brilliant math tutor, you probably think of someone who’s able to answer any question.
But it’s also vital to get math help with a tutor who asks questions.
They should ask questions to understand which aspects of math are most challenging for the student and which are the easiest.
A good math tutor should also learn why the student is seeking extra help, and ultimately, to provide lessons that will best teach the student the material they need to learn.
Well-informed personalized guidance that contributes to thorough understanding is vital in math learning.
A great math tutor must be able to provide this type of learning experience.
- Practice, practice, practice.
The best way to retain information that is taught is by practise.
Practicing is the best retention method, which results in a 75% retention rate.
One way to accomplish this is by completing homework assignments or in-class problem daily.
On-going practice will help to ensure that the concepts taught are being mastered.
Most tutoring companies often assist parents in preparation for standardized test.
Test like SAT, GRE, GMAT, TOEFL, IELTS, IGSCE, WASSCE or BECE.
Therefore having access to test in the same format as the standardized test can be beneficial.
- Good mentor
A skilled math tutor is also seen as a mentor to her student.
Her student respects her, not only for her knowledge of mathematics, but also for her overall attitude and actions.
Students can tell she respects them as well.
She has control over her sessions.
She lays out clear rules and expectations for students to follow.
When students misbehave, discipline is consistent and fair.
Individuals that tutor need to be compensated for their time and services.
Therefore it is not practical to think that you will receive good math tutoring for free.
In order to receive a good student to tutor reaction, it will more than likely cost a little extra.
To determine if the money invested is worth it, you will have to look at the individual needs of the student and how much they want to succeed in the subject of math.
Also remember that there will be other administrative charges and overhead expenses on the part of the tutor or the tutoring company.
Always discuss tuition rates and prices far ahead of time.
Preferable before your first session.