Saturday, July 18, 2009

Peer Tutors Versus Professional Tutors

This past week there has been some debate about the effectiveness of peer tutoring versus professional tutoring on some message boards that I belong to. I will weigh in on my opinion on this matter.

When it comes to tutoring, as with many things in this world - you get what you pay for. There is no substitute for a professional, trained, adult tutor who has been screened (both for their knowledge and to be sure they have no criminal record) and is supervised by an administrator.

It often amazes me how willing some people are to open their homes to a stranger, and expose that stranger to their child. When you hire a tutor on your own you often have no way to verify that they know the subject matter they are teaching, that they have experience teaching, and that they do not have a criminal record that could put you and your family in danger.

While a peer tutor may be good at a certain subject, this does not mean that they have the ability to teach this subject to others. Teaching is a skill that is learned over time and requires a great deal of planning, patience and ability. Not everyone can connect with a student and motivate them to want to do well.

I have had parents tell me horror stories about tutors they have hired on their own who did not show up at the agreed upon time, were late, did not know the subject matter as well as they claimed, were not good teachers, and were unprofessional.

One parents recently shared with me a story of how the peer tutor she had hired to work with her daughter had been hitting on her daughter when he was supposed to be teaching her.

Sometimes parents feel that they can get a peer tutor for much less money than a professional tutor. Again, I need to remind parents: "you get what you pay for". If the peer tutor takes more time to teach the subject because they are not skilled in teaching, then you end up paying the same amount as if you had gone to the professional in the first place. You also run the risk of wasting your time and your money on an approach that is not getting results.

There is a reason that I do not attempt to plumb my own pipes, wire my own home, represent myself in legal matters, or perform my own dental work. When I want good results and I want the job done right, I hire a professional.

I suggest when your child needs help in school, or is preparing for a high stakes test, you also look to the professionals.

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