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Ensure Your Child's Success: What to Look for in a High School Math Tutor

Finding the right high school tutor can be a test. Here is our guide on how to look for the most compatible high school tutor for you.
16 minutes
Ensure Your Child's Success: What to Look for in a High School Math Tutor
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Transitioning from middle school to high school can be a stressful time for teens. Between regular assignments and classes, as well as extracurriculars and part-time jobs, high school age students are often trying to get too much done in too little time. Even the strongest students can find themselves occasionally underperforming. 

Thankfully, there are ways that students can maximize their learning efficiencies and improve their grades. Sometimes all it takes is a little support and guidance. The solution to all of your academic woes? Hiring a private high school tutor. 

At a Glance

  • What to Look for in a High School Tutor – individuals will want to pay attention to soft skills, hard skills, and red flags when conducting their high school tutor search
  • The Character Traits to Look for in a High School Tutor – An ideal tutor will be energetic, patient, friendly and professional, able to build up a good rapport, and willing to provide constructive feedback
  • The Skills and Experience to Look for in a High School Tutor – An ideal tutor will be flexible, have strong subject matter knowledge and years of experience, be within your budget, and be a consistent communicator
  • Red Flags to Look Out For When Considering a High School Tutor – Watch out for tutors who under charge you, spend too much time multi-tasking, are consistent cancellers, and merely act as supervisors to your child. If your child’s grades and schoolwork don’t begin improving in a matter of weeks, this is also a warning sign
  • What to Expect When Working with an Online High School Tutor at Learner – With Learner’s stress-free tutor matching process and state-of-the-art virtual classrooms, Learner sets itself apart as one of the best online tutoring services on the market

What to Look for in a High School Math Tutor

First things first: what is a high school tutor? A high school tutor is a private teacher, typically one who teaches a single student in after-school lessons. A high school tutor should specialize in teaching high school courses, including AP English, computer science, and high school math. The primary benefit of private tutoring is the one-on-one attention that a student receives. A tutor will adapt to a student’s way of learning and create customized lesson plans that are catered to a student’s academic strengths and weaknesses. Whether a student is a visual learner or prefers to receive written steps, high school tutors can identify what learning style works best for a student and present the material in this way. One-on-one teaching also allows a student to work at their own pace and removes some of the stressors present in classrooms, including teacher expectations and peer competition. 

Tutoring often changes a student’s attitude towards learning. A lot of the time, students get bogged down by the idea that they need to be “naturally gifted” to succeed in school. Some students might even suffer from the learning disorder dyscalculia, that affects a person’s ability to understand number-based information and math.

More often than not, the real issue isn’t a lack of natural smarts and skills but rather a lack of confidence. The job of the tutor is to put the student’s mind at ease, encourage them to succeed, and lower their defenses. By creating a safe environment, showing the student how to approach an assignment, and allowing them to problem solve on their own, a tutor will gradually help a student feel confident doing schoolwork on their own. A tutor can also help a student curate good study habits and work certain practices into their daily routine. This can help students transition from high school juniors and seniors to college students.

Unsure that your high schooler needs a tutor? There are a few warning signs that might indicate your child may need an extra helping hand. If your child has poor grades and test scores, is having trouble with procrastination, is turning in lazy or incomplete assignments, or has a lack of interest in learning, then it may be better to work with a tutor sooner rather than later. 

The 5 Character Traits to Look for in a High School Math Tutor

When it comes to the high school tutor search, many people pay attention to the same two things: credentials and experience. While these two factors are certainly important criteria to consider, the character traits of a tutor are equally important. 

1. Patience

One of the most important qualities of a tutor is patience. A tutor needs to understand that every student has a different learning style, learning rate, and personality. Some students are going to pick up on new concepts and lessons more easily than others. Throughout the learning process, a good tutor will demonstrate patience to ensure the student has fully absorbed a concept before moving on to something new. A good tutor will never show annoyance, in either their tone of voice or in their body language, if a student struggles to grasp a challenging new concept. It’s paramount for a student to feel as though they are in a safe learning environment and can take their time to fully grasp a concept, otherwise, the desired benefits of tutoring will not be achieved. 

2. Build Rapport with Students

Math anxiety affects students of all learning levels so partnering with someone that has a calming and friendly approach could be essential. Unlike teachers, who have a classroom full of students to attend to, a tutor is presented with the opportunity to build a rapport with their students on a more personal level. The most exceptional tutors will listen and communicate with their tutees to continuously learn the best ways to help them succeed in the classroom. The more tutors learn about their students, the more they will be able to create unique and tailored lessons that cater to the student's academic needs. Additionally, the more comfortable a tutee feels in their learning environment, the more confident and at ease they will feel in solving problems, admitting uncertainty, and asking questions. 

3. Energetic

With everything that high school students already have to juggle, the last thing some of them want is another commitment added to their schedule. That’s why a tutor needs to be passionate, energetic, enthusiastic, and motivational. If a tutor provides little enthusiasm and engagement during sessions, students will not be motivated to learn. If it appears like your tutor is only there to supervise and pick up a little extra cash, think twice before continuing with their tutoring services. 

4. Friendly and Professional

An ideal tutor is an expert who walks the line between friendly and professional. While you certainly want a tutor who makes an effort to bond with their students, you also want someone who is going to maintain a professional persona. Any personal information related to a student should remain private. A tutor should also refrain from sharing too many personal details about their own life. 

5. Provides Constructive Feedback

For a student to succeed in the classroom, they need to receive constructive feedback. While sugarcoating the truth may protect their feelings, it’s not going to progress a student’s learning. A good tutor will provide clear and direct feedback, point to examples, and also help students find solutions to their problems. 

Learner Reviews

Here are some of our Learner tutors who received feedback on their superb character traits and tutoring soft skills!

“Wonderful experience! Bejoy is really helping my teen. He knows how to connect and make learning simpler and more fun.” Mark A.

“Gerard is a great tutor, he is very easy to understand and helps break down problems step by step. He goes at a pace which is easy to learn from.” Stephanie K.

“I do two sessions per week with learner.com tutor Olivia, and this has definitely helped my daughter continue to develop her math skills and continue to find math an engaging subject. The organization, and my tutor specifically, has been flexible, reliable, and very professional.” Jordan B.

Lifelong Skills Start with The Right Tutor Take the Quiz to Connect

The 5 Skills and Experience to Look for in a High School Math Tutor

A tutor’s credentials, educational background, and years of experience are all very important factors to consider during your high school tutor search. There are a lot of benefits of a high school tutor, when you find the right one but if your tutor is not qualified to teach a student high school-level material, then they won’t be worth your time and money. 

1. Subject Matter Knowledge

Not only should your tutor have a strong educational background, preferably at least a bachelor’s degree, but they should also have particular knowledge in the subject matter they are teaching. Ideally, your tutor will be an expert in teaching specific academic content, whether they are a math tutor, college test prep tutor, or college admissions tutor. You are not hiring a tutor to simply supervise a student while they complete their homework. A tutor should be able to teach everything from basic concepts to theories and applications. A tutor should also be able to take classroom materials and cater assignments and test preparation to a student’s strengths and preferred learning style. The last thing you want is for a tutor to be less familiar with the subject matter than the student is. 

2. Experience

Have you heard the saying practice makes perfect? Well, it applies to tutoring too! A tutor may have an impressive background, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are good at teaching students complex concepts. Before moving forward with the hiring process, make sure to inquire about a tutor’s experience. While you should ask them how long they have been tutoring, you should also ask about how frequently they tutor and how long they have maintained certain tutoring relationships. A tutor may say they have 5 years of work experience, but really they might have only tutored one student for five consecutive summer holidays. 

3. Flexibility

A good tutor is never going to have a one-size fits all approach. A tutor needs to be familiar enough with a specific subject matter to adapt their teaching to every type of student. Throughout their tutoring sessions, an expert will have to consistently adjust a student’s objectives, learning style, and goals as they progress. 

4. Communication

Whether your tutor works for a tutoring service or is an independent tutor, your educational expert must be a consistent and honest communicator. Tutoring is not just about the teaching itself, but it’s also about the observations and discoveries that tutors are making along the way. 

It is crucial to a student’s academic development for their parents to constantly be in the loop about their progress and the areas that still need improvement. A student’s parents may also be able to offer insight into their child’s personality, which could potentially advance a tutor’s ability to reach a child.

5. Budget

To make tutoring beneficial for you and your family, you need to find a tutor that is financially suitable for you. Sit down and calculate how much you can afford to spend on tutoring every month. 

Then think about how frequently and how long you plan on needing a tutor. Is this a short-term or long-term commitment? Asking yourself these questions will help you nail down a tutoring budget. 

The 5 Red Flags to Look Out for When Considering a High School Math Tutor

While there are traits you want your tutor to possess, there are also certain traits that you want to be wary of in certain tutors. Here are some warning signs that you may be working with a bad tutor. 

1. Merely a Supervisor

If you are doling out the big bucks for a tutor, you shouldn’t be hiring someone who is simply watching your child complete their homework — anyone could do that. Make sure to check in with your tutor and ask what a typical tutoring session looks like. Make sure that they can rationalize every lesson plan they create. If your tutor is not able to curate dynamic, engaging, and educational lesson plans, this may be a sign that they are not familiar enough with the subject matter. 

2. Unreliable

Whether they are constantly canceling or not responding to your emails, the last thing you want is a flaky tutor. Many tutors work part-time meaning that they are either juggling other jobs or other commitments, such as school, which can sometimes lead to unreliable tutors. Before hiring a tutor, discuss your expectations and outline what you need from the tutor to make the relationship worthwhile for you and your high schooler. If a tutor is unable to meet those expectations, then you might want to consider looking for another candidate. 

3. Multi-tasker

Is your tutor constantly on their cell phone in the middle of their lessons? If so, they might either be trying to get ahead on other tasks or simply lazy and texting their friends. You are paying for every minute of your tutor's time during this allocated time, meaning that your tutor should be giving your high schooler their full, undivided attention. If a tutor is unable to give a justified reason for multitasking during lessons, this may be a warning sign of a bad tutor. 

4. Lack of Improvement

A tutor is not a band aid solution to every academic problem. If you hire a tutor a few days before a big test, they may not be able to help a student achieve an A+ score. That said, after a few weeks, parents and students should both be able to see substantial progress. If your child is still feeling stumped or not showing any interest in learning, this may be a warning sign that it’s time to look for another expert. Before doing so, make sure to chat with the tutor and ask what they think the issue might be. 

5. Undercharging You

When conducting your tutoring search, be wary of unusually low tutoring rates. If your tutor is charging significantly less than all of the other rates you have seen out there, then they may be pretending to be someone they are not. Before hopping on what seems like a good deal, do a little digging. Some tutors may even be open to background checks. 

Questions to Ask in a Potential High School Math Tutor 

Before you move forward with hiring a high school tutor, ask if you can do a quick phone call to chat over a few questions. Write down a list of everything you want to know about your tutor before they begin working with your child. This question checklist is a good place to start. 

  • Where did you go to college and what is your most recent degree or certification?
  • How long have you been tutoring?
  • How often do you tutor?
  • How many tutees do you usually have at any given time?
  • What’s your expertise in the subject area my child needs help with?
  • Have you worked with any students who are struggling with the same issues as my child? If so, what were some of the ways you overcame these issues?
  • What does a typical lesson look like with you?
  • What strategies are most effective when you first start working with a student?
  • Can you tell me about your teaching philosophy?
  • What are some obstacles you have faced with tutees in the past that have kept them from achieving their goals?
  • What is your preferred mode of communication and how frequently do you communicate?
  • How do you measure progress?
  • Do you have any references I can speak to?
  • Do you feel comfortable with me conducting a background check?
  • Are you an in-person or online tutor?
  • How long is each tutoring session?
  • How much do you charge per hour or session?
  • What is your cancellation policy?
  • Are you planning on taking any time off over the next six months?

What to Expect When Working with a High School Math Tutor at Learner

Founded by passionate educators, Learner is one of the best online tutoring services on the market. Getting started with Learner is straightforward. First, interested parties must fill out a short 3-minute quiz on Learner’s website. After receiving basic information about your background and interests, Learner will match you with the most compatible tutor in their network. Learner has a very rigorous vetting process and only a select number of tutors are accepted into their network. 

Each one of Learner’s tutoring sessions takes place in a state-of-the-art virtual classroom. Learner’s virtual classrooms all have video and audio features, as well as interactive whiteboards to help mimic the feeling of being in a regular classroom. Each session is also recorded, which allows students to go back and rewatch lessons leading up to an exam or end-of-the-year assignment.

Ready to schedule that free session? Take the next step and with our matching quiz!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the youngest age to tutor?

Tutees can be any age, from kindergarten students to graduate level students. Sometimes adults who are looking to pick up a new language or a new skill will also partake in tutoring lessons.

How can a teenager become a tutor?

Teenagers who are interested in tutoring should reach out to tutoring services in their town, as well as teachers at their own high school. Some high schools have their own tutoring program which consists of peer tutors. Teenagers can also apply to become tutors for online tutoring services. 

How do I become a tutor teacher?

There are many paths to becoming a tutor. While some individuals choose to work for a virtual tutoring service, others will volunteer to teach at a local library. Consider why you want to become a tutor and what is the most convenient way for you to offer your services. Are you looking to make some extra money or are you looking to give back to the community?

How do I find a tutor?

If you are looking for an in-person tutor you can check out high schools and colleges in your hometown or local tutoring centers. Individuals can also opt for virtual tutoring services. Services like Learner will match you with a compatible tutor. 

What is high school tutoring?

High school tutoring is one-on-one teaching that is specifically catered to high school students. Some high school students may need help with Algebra II, and thus will hire a high school math tutor who specializes in teaching high school level math subjects. 

What qualifications are needed to be a tutor?

Every tutoring service has different qualifications. Some may require you to have at least a bachelor’s degree, while others may require that you already have several years of tutoring or teaching experience. 

What do students look for in a tutor?

Students look at subject matter knowledge, teaching skills, and years of experience when selecting a tutor, but they also look at a tutor’s character traits and personality. Students want to work with a tutor who is energetic, patient, friendly, and able to keep up a good rapport. 

What do parents look for in a tutor?

Parents are searching for a tutor who is pushing their children to do their best academically. An ideal tutor will be someone who provides constructive feedback, communicates often and is honest and reliable. 

What makes a trustworthy tutor?

A trustworthy and reliable tutor will be someone who sticks to their tutoring appointments, keeps up consistent communication, and is honest about a student’s progress.

Get started with a custom-matched tutor for your child.

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About the author:

Mike developed his passion for education as a math instructor at Penn State University. He expanded his educational experience launching and running an Executive Education business - training over 100,000 students per year. As the CEO of Learner, Mike focuses on accelerating learning and unleashing the potential of students. 

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