If your child is having difficulty with math and isn’t able to get one-on-one help in the classroom, a skilled math tutor may be just the thing to help them achieve math success.
But, there’s a lot to consider when it comes to finding the right tutor. The first is whether to work with a tutor in person or online. If you prefer the flexibility and location-independence of online tutoring, you also want to look for specific qualities in an online math tutor to ensure that you are getting the proper level of math help for your child.
15 Qualities to Look for in Your Online Math Tutor
#1: Math Expertise & Knowledge
When you are looking for an online math tutor for your child, it is, of course, important to find a tutor who is an expert in math! Depending on what grade or skill level your student is, you want to be sure that the tutor you find is knowledgeable in that specific math area.
Your tutor should be able to address your student’s immediate math problems. But, they should also be able to work with your student as they progress through their math curriculum. As an example, a tutor who is comfortable teaching high school math should be very comfortable teaching middle school math as well and will also know what foundational requirements are needed for your child in middle school as they move ahead in their curriculum.. This extended knowledge, based on a curriculum that advances your child’s understanding of math concepts, should be a core quality in your tutor.
#2: Ability & Quality to Assess Your Student’s Needs
One of the benefits of a math tutor is the one-on-one learning provided. You want to find a tutor and program who will take the time to initially assess your student’s math level and personalize a plan to match their goals.
In addition, the math-tutor should have the capability to provide thoughtful insights about why your child may be having gaps in their math knowledge. Are they able to explain topics and concepts that are perhaps related and cause weakness in certain other topics?
The ability to assess and high quality of the assessment provides maximum benefit to your student and ensures that their time – and your money – is not being wasted.
The Thinkster tutoring app does just this. Our program begins with your student taking a skills assessment to gauge their current knowledge and skill level. A personalized diagnostic matrix is then created for your child highlighting areas of strengths and weaknesses.
Then, a Thinkster Academic Advisor meets with you to review the results and discuss a personalized plan that will directly meet your student’s individual needs, matching them with the right tutor.
One-on-one coaching sessions, along with personalized assignment of math worksheets, crafted to meet the needs of your student, that starts at their level and accelerates their learning over time is what you should look for.
#3: Enthusiasm & Passion for Math
Besides finding tutor who just knows math, it is important to find someone who is passionate about the subject.
Passion will ensure that your online math tutor is staying on top of math trends and teaching styles and strategies. It will also ensure that your tutor has the capability to work with your student when frustrations arise. It can make things easier if your tutor is passionate about math and wants others to learn and love math like they do.
Enthusiasm is also important in the online tutoring world because students rely on the tone and body language they see on their screen in order to learn. Someone who is passionate about what they are teaching and is trained in online tutoring techniques will make sure nothing is lost in translation.
A great tutor will know and use multiple strategies to teach the same concept.
This will help your student understand how a math problem can be broken down to smaller definable parts with the use of multiple problem solving strategies. Your student will begin to understand that once they know that different tools and methods can be employed to solve a particular problem, it gives them the confidence that they can solve any problem.
Enthusiastic and passionate math tutors know how to build confidence in your student!
#4: A Good Reputation
When you’ve found an online math tutor to work with, you want to be sure that they have a good reputation both online in general and as a tutor specifically. If they have a website, the tutor may have testimonials about their work. They may also have a Facebook page or other social listing where you can see their reviews.
If you cannot find any testimonials or keys to their reputation, you can ask the tutor for the contact information of the parents of some of their current and/or past students. You definitely want to be thorough with this background check and verification so you don’t end up providing a less-than-stellar experience for your student!
At Thinkster, we do the hard work for you and make sure all of our online math tutors are highly rated, experienced working with children, knowledgeable about core math concepts and our teaching methods, and professional with parents.
We also make sure that they can show improvement in your student’s math performance in the shortest time with results that you can also track weekly and monthly.
This goes alongside having a good reputation, but you want to be sure your tutor is a professional and acts like one.
Your time is important so you want them to start and end on time, with a set plan for the topics and concepts they will cover with your child. A professional math tutor will also use appropriate language with your student and share relevant examples (via video tutorials, worksheets, websites or real life examples) as needed.
How do you know your tutor has the needed professionalism? See if the following things make you feel good about the choice you are making:
- Are they transparent about the results they have generated for other students?
- Do they have ready parent references and testimonials that they have in their website or can give you connections to parents who can vouch for them?
- Do they appear authentic and genuinely interested in working with your student?
- Are they so over-booked that they don’t have the extra few minutes to speak with you if you have additional clarification questions?
Just like passion, patience is an important quality in a tutor as things can get a little stressful sometimes.
If your student finds a particular math concept difficult, has tons of homework or has a big test coming up, that can add an extra level of stress to the math work. Knowing your tutor will be patient with your child can help you, and them, relax and do their best work at their own pace.
Some questions you might want to ask yourself to determine if the tutor is patient include:
- Is the math tutor able to explain a concept in a calm and methodical manner?
- What does the tutor do when a student is unable to understand a concept when explained a few times?
- Does she have sufficient knowledge of different strategies to use to teach the same concept?
- Is she able to use real-life examples and make it easier for your student to understand the concept better?
- Is the tutor willing to have you observe how they teach other students before you make a decision?
As you can quickly see, a math tutor who is patient is also very confident about the subject, is able to understand nuances of teaching students with different learning styles, and has the belief that she can make your student successfully learn math.
Look out for these markers as you evaluate how patient your math tutor will be. They make a huge difference to how quickly your student will show performance improvement in math!
#7: Positivity & Encouragement
You know that look your child gets when they’re struggling with their homework.
It’s not a good one, and we all know how hard it is to learn when we’re feeling bad about it ourselves.
This is why you want your tutor to be genuinely positive and encouraging to your student throughout all of their online tutoring sessions together, especially if your student is struggling with a certain topic. Encouragement from an objective, third-party source can be just the boost your student needs to work hard and master a math skill, giving them confidence outside of the classroom, too.
Online tutoring provides an additional expectation of direct, and sometimes immediate, accessibility to your tutor, whether it’s time for a tutoring session or not. We’re used to providing immediate feedback through our devices and social media, and this can spill over into other online communications as well.
While you may not be able to expect 24/7 responsiveness from your online math tutor, you want to look for one who is reliably available to you on a regular basis. As the parent, you want to receive updates on your student’s progress in a timely fashion, which is why we created a Parent App. It allows you to check in on your student’s progress, connect with your student’s tutor and set up push notifications so that you never miss an update.
Plus, with the Thinkster online math tutoring program, your student will receive daily grading and feedback from their dedicated coach, whether or not you reach out first.
#9: Ability to Teach
There are plenty of people who know a specific topic really well. But, this doesn’t mean they can necessarily teach it to other people, especially children who are struggling.
One way you can find out how your future tutor will teach your child is by giving them a math problem that your child is struggling with and see how the tutor teaches this concept to your child.
Pick a simple enough problem that the tutor can spend no more than 10 minutes to teach this concept. Better yet, have a single tutoring session as a trial and let the tutor know that you want to see how this engagement works for your student. Do not hesitate to be direct, but respectful in your communications with your tutor.
Just being nice to a tutor will not help your student and you will end up wasting critical time. Open a conversation with a tutor and say that you want to try out a tutoring session. If it does not work out for you or your student, there are no hard feelings afterwards, as you were clear about wanting a trial.
It is very beneficial to find a tutor with teaching experience or who can show examples of how they teach math concepts.
At Thinkster, our online math tutors are trained math educators with strong knowledge of the math curriculum and the Singapore Math Method, which is a foundational basis of our program. We also provide a one-week free trial so that you can get first-hand experience with the program as well as with your assigned tutor.
This is an important quality of a great math tutor.
When your student either gets frustrated or cannot seem to grasp a specific concept, it will require patient persistence from their tutor to encourage them to finish their session.
As a parent, you need to know the tutor will not give up on your student no matter what!
#11: Knowledge of Technology
Hopefully, no one would become an online tutor without having knowledge of technology and online programs, but it is always good to be sure. When it’s time for your tutoring sessions, you don’t want to have any delays or technical difficulties.
Plus, you want your student to get the full benefit of online tutoring, so a tutor with knowledge of additional online resources can provide an added benefit.
One-on-one time is important when mastering new topics, so it is important that your tutor is prepared for each of your sessions. Additionally, your tutor should remember from session to session the progress your student is making, and should have prepared appropriate lessons and worksheets for each session.
Small touches, like asking your child how that big test went or what questions they had from their least math worksheets, will go a long way when it comes to building trust with your child.
Our Thinkster Math program provides a dedicated tutor for each student. This teacher is assigned to your child for the entire academic year. This allows the tutor to keep track of your student’s progress and make the needed adjustments to the math assignments that they need to solve daily as well as pick up the best strategies to help your student accelerate their math learning.
Being reliable goes hand in hand with being prepared.
When it comes to your child’s education, you want to find a reliable online math tutor who does what they say, and does this in a timely manner. If they say they’re going to find extra math worksheets, they need to provide the downloadable link for you and your child. If they promise to help with extra test preparation, you should be able to trust that this is going to happen.
This helps you and your student build trust in their tutor, which is an important to accelerate learning in the shortest time.
If your student is really struggling with math, it’s important to have a tutor who is not afraid to try something new or different to help them over their learning plateau. This is part of the reason why we believe that the Singapore Math Method our online math tutors use is so helpful, because traditional teaching methods tend to value repetition, instead of focusing on true mastery.
There are resources for online tutors to better their skills as a teacher and help the students they are serving. Your tutor should have knowledge of and access to a library of resources that will benefit your student.
#15: Wants Your Child to Succeed As Much As You Do
Last, and certainly not least, look for an online math tutor who wants your child to succeed as much as you do.
This quality is a combination of all the others. You’ll be able to tell pretty quickly if this is true by how the tutor responds to teach difficult math problems, how she talks to your child and how open she is with you about their progress.
If your math tutor is aligned with your needs, she’ll give 100% to the tutoring sessions with your child and do all it takes to help your child master their math skills.
Finding, interviewing, and vetting your own tutor can be difficult, and it can be a waste of time if they don’t work out. At Thinkster, we do all the hard work for you and match your child with a dedicated tutor whose style and expertise fits your math needs.