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Math Tutoring 101: How do I know if my child needs a tutor, and how can they help?

A handy guide to figuring out if your child needs a math tutor, the core competencies to look for, how to compare tutors, and more.

If you’re looking for a math tutor for your child, it can be tricky to know where to start, and you'll likely have plenty of questions about how tutoring can help your child and how to find a math tutor. So, to help, we've put together this handy guide to math tutoring–let's get started! 

How do I know if my child needs a math tutor? 

There are many reasons why you might decide to get a math tutor to help your child, including:

  • They may need help with a specific area of math, such as fractions, calculus, or algebra.

  • Testing or feedback from their teacher may indicate that they aren’t achieving as well as their peers in math. 

  • They may not feel confident with math.

  • They may have advanced math skills for their age and want to be challenged and stretched.

  • You homeschool and want some support with teaching math. 

Regardless of why you think your child would benefit from a math tutor, discussing math tutoring with your child before arranging for a tutor is important. Because for tutoring to be effective, your child must be engaged and committed to working with their math tutor. 

While kids generally see the positives of working with a math tutor and jump at the chance of having some additional support, it can be helpful to discuss the benefits of working with a tutor and how it’s a great opportunity for them. 

How can a math tutor help?

Here are six ways a math tutor can help kids of any age:

1. Explaining tricky concepts

An expert math tutor can help explain math concepts in a way that is easy to understand and provide extra practice and support. Tutors are experts in breaking down topics or concepts into smaller, more manageable parts and addressing any misconceptions or gaps in knowledge your kid may have. 

2. Accelerate progress in math

Many research studies have shown that math tutoring accelerates children's math progress and increases their scores on standardized tests. For example, the UK Education Endowment Foundation analyzed international evidence on math tutoring. They found that children who have a math tutor make the equivalent of 5 months of additional progress compared to their peers who don’t.

3. Teaching ‘new math’ methods and skills

When you look at your kid's math work, it may seem like math is totally new and has entirely changed from what you learned as a child. While math hasn’t really changed, kids are now taught in a way that helps build a conceptual understanding of why math works. 

A math teacher will be up to date in the latest pedagogy and ways to teach math and will be able to explain math in a similar way to how your child is experiencing it at school or through their homeschool curriculum. A math tutor will also know which models, images, and representations will help demystify math for your child so they can develop a deep understanding of math. 

Increasing confidence

Regardless of their ability, some kids don’t feel very confident with math, but the great news is that math tutoring has been proven by research to increase confidence in math.  

A 1-1 math tutor can increase your kid's confidence and self-esteem by offering individualized attention and instruction based on your child's unique needs. Tutoring is also a great way for your kids to practice their math skills and boost their confidence without the pressure of a classroom or group of students. 

Stretching and challenging

If your child has a high level of math skills and understanding for their age, they can sometimes feel demotivated and 'bored' by the 'usual' math for their age group. An online math tutor can help by providing challenging activities that help develop your child’s knowledge and skills and keep them engaged and excited by math. 

Providing homeschool support

A math tutor can be an invaluable asset if you homeschool your kids. Not only can they help explain any math topics that you don't feel confident teaching, but they can also reassure you that your child's skills are developing in line with other kids their age and give your child an extra opportunity to practice what they have been taught during your math homeschooling sessions. 

How much do math tutors charge? 

The cost of a math tutor depends on many factors, including the tutor's experience, qualifications, and whether you have an in-person or online math tutor. 

The cost of an in-person math tutor also depends on your location and time of year, and you can typically expect to pay between $40-$90 an hour. 

Choosing an online math tutor also lets you access highly qualified tutors no matter where you’re located in the country. As there’s no travel time involved for the tutor, online tutoring tends to be cheaper than in-person tutoring. 

Private 1-1 online math tutoring from Outschool typically costs between $20-$35 per session, with sessions ranging from 45 minutes to 1.5 hours. Making online tutoring an affordable way to find a high-quality math tutor for your child.

How do I find a math tutor? 

There are many different ways to find a math tutor, including:

Asking in your local area 

Word of mouth is a great way to find a math tutor. You could ask for recommendations for tutors from other families you know in your area or from your kid's school. If you homeschool, why not ask your local homeschool coop or area homeschooling groups to see which tutors parents have used?

Using an in-person tutoring agency

You could look out for adverts in your local area for tutoring agencies that will match your child with a math tutor. However, it's worthwhile remembering that the price you pay through a tutoring agency will include a hefty fee for the agency.

Searching online

You could start your hunt for a math tutor by searching for 'math tutor' + your area online. Remember, though, that anyone can create a website and claim to be a tutor, so make sure you vet your math tutor using our tips in the next section before arranging tutoring.

Explore the hundreds of experienced math tutors on Outschool 

Whether you’re looking for tutoring for 2nd-grade addition, 6th-grade geometry, or to help with SAT prep, Outschool has the perfect math tutor to work with your child. Plus, by using Outschool, you can be reassured that your online math tutor has been vetted.

In addition to running background checks and verifying educators’ identities, Outschool screens educators’ content to ensure that they provide high-quality learning experiences as well as inclusive environments for all learners. 

Once an educator begins teaching on the platform, Outschool continues to encourage them to manage classroom experiences and report any safety issues to Outschool’s Trust & Safety team. Learn more about how we work to create a protected environment.

All Outschool tutoring sessions are also backed by a Happiness Guarantee, and it’s easy to contact your tutor. You can always message the educator directly or reach out to Outschool support.

5 questions to consider when looking for a math tutor

Even when you've found some potential math tutors, knowing which tutor to choose for your child can be tricky. To help you narrow down your choice, we've put together a checklist of 5 things to ask so you can find the perfect math tutor for your kid. 

Does the math tutor have appropriate knowledge and/or qualifications? 

It goes without saying that math tutors should have an appropriate level of knowledge and skills in math and teaching. Lots of tutors are likely to have formal qualifications in math and education, but some tutors make up for a lack of formal qualifications with the first-hand experience they’ve gained through years of successful tutoring. 

Even if a tutor has a formal qualification, you should make sure that they also have knowledge of both math and teaching approaches (pedagogy) to tutor the area and age of math your child needs. 

For example, a new math graduate may be perfect for helping with high school calculus, but they might not have the right pedagogical knowledge to help a first grader develop their number sense.

What experience does the math tutor have? 

While a great math tutor needs to have a good grasp of the subject and pedagogy, they also should have plenty of experience working with kids and helping them overcome barriers and become confident mathematicians. 

So, when looking for a math tutor, be sure to look at the experience they have in supporting similar-aged kids. 

Finding a tutor who meets all your requirements can be daunting. But you don’t have to start from scratch. All of Outschool’s teachers are screened for their teaching experience, subject matter expertise, class content, and motivation for tutoring. Try Outschool's search feature to quickly find the best tutor for your kid's needs.

What curriculum do they use? 

There is a wide range of math curriculums, schemes of work, and teaching styles, so it's vital that you ensure that your math tutor can support the same curriculum that your kids are using in school or that you’re using for homeschooling.

What reviews or references do they have?

A math tutor should be able to provide testimonials or reviews from previous families they’ve worked with. For example, all online math classes and math tutors on Outschool have honest reviews and ratings from families. As Sara wrote on Trustpilot:

“Every teacher has been fantastic. My daughter is reading so much and is doing so well in math. It’s crazy how much she’s learned since she started.”

Seeing real-life reviews makes it easy to find the tutor with the unique knowledge and experience your child needs.

When are math tutors available? 

Of course, you need to make sure that the tutor is available at a time that fits with your family's busy schedule, which may be challenging if you’re relying on an in-person math tutor. 

Using an online tutoring platform like Outschool is appealing for many families because there’s no travel, and you have a wider selection to choose from. You’re not limited to what’s available in your local area, making it easier to find the right instructor and a time that’s convenient for you both.

Whoever you choose, remember to keep your kids safe by ensuring your math tutor has been fully background checked and that nothing in their history makes them unsuitable to work with kids. 

What to discuss with your child’s math tutor 

Once you've found the perfect math tutor, you should have a conversation or exchange messages with them before your child's first session. 

For example, if you’re using Outschool’s online tutoring, you can message teachers any time, even before you sign up for their services. That way, you can get all your questions answered and ensure they understand your kid’s needs before you start the tutoring process.

Before your child starts their tutoring sessions, you should aim to:

Discuss what the goal of the tutoring is 

This will enable them to ensure the sessions are tailored to the exact needs of your kid. For example, are you looking for general math support? Or is there a specific area you really want them to focus on? It can also help to agree with your tutor on when and how you’ll review these goals and how they’ll give feedback to you. 

Give the tutor a brief ‘low down’ on your child 

It can be helpful for the tutor to get a quick 'low down' on your child, including how your child has scored in any math tests and any feedback from their teacher. Plus, remember to let your tutor know a bit about your child and their likes, dislikes, etc., as this can help them build rapport and incorporate your child's interests in their tutoring sessions. 

Explore how you can support the aims of the tutoring in between sessions 

It can be helpful to explore with the tutor if there’s anything you can do to help your child between math sessions. For example, it may be that playing some fun math games or helping them practice new skills could really help develop your kid's math skills and confidence.

How do you know if math tutoring is working?

Ultimately observing progress toward the goal of your child's math tutoring is the best way to know it’s working. If you’re able to see that your child has improved in their understanding of math or in their confidence, then their tutoring will be working.

It can also be helpful to talk with your child's tutor directly and ask them for feedback on how your child has been progressing. You should also regularly check in with your child to see how they feel about their tutoring and if they feel it’s helpful. 

Remember, though, that every child learns at their own pace, and it may take time to notice a difference in your child's performance and understanding. Your child is also likely to make progress in small steps, but over time you should be able to observe a measurable improvement.

Alternatives to hiring a math tutor

Hiring a math tutor is a wonderful way to help improve your child's confidence and understanding of math, but did you know there are other ways to help with this too? 

As well as online math tutoring, Outschool offers a wide range of online math classes, including whole curriculum classes and classes that focus on specific areas of math

By joining a fun online math class, your kid will get to learn alongside a small group of others who are their age and benefit from the expertise of Outschool's experienced math teachers. 

Find the perfect class or tutor for your child now. 

Tim HandleyTim is an experienced educator and author who has written over 70 textbooks, workbooks and guides to help support teaching and learning. When he's not writing, he loves spending time at the coast or getting lost in a good book.

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