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Types of Tutoring: What's Best For Your Child? (page 2)

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Updated on Aug 6, 2013

Free “drop-in” tutoring

Tutorpedia, a San Francisco Bay Area service that works with local school districts, is a service for low-income middle school students. Inquire at your neighborhood library or child’s school to learn about after-school options, as more kids are eligible for government-sponsored programs as a result of NCLB. Libraries usually have tutors available for drop-in hours on weekdays between 3:00 and 6:00 p.m. This option works for students who need a quiet location to concentrate, as well as parents who don’t mind browsing a library while waiting for a session to end.

A nonprofit like 826 National, with writing centers on both coasts, Chicago, and Ann Arbor, also offers free afternoon and weekend tutoring. Generally, these drop-in options are fitting for students who need occasional help with homework or a particular essay, and don’t require long-term tutoring assistance.

Paid sessions at established organizations

National programs like Sylvan Learning schedule one-hour sessions around your child’s schedule.  These organizations conduct an initial assessment test to determine your child’s skill level and learning style – a step that’s skipped if you hire an independent tutor on your own through a website such as Craigslist. Kaplan, another established tutoring service, offers sessions in both centers and at home – particularly for SAT and test preparation – as well as small group tutoring (up to five students) for those who thrive when learning with classmates.  This is a fitting option for a student who may benefit from a supportive network that boosts confidence and improves communication and social skills, as well as a parent who seeks a more structured program or detailed progress assessments.

Intensive specialized sessions

With highly specific sessions focused on symbol imagery and reading comprehension, and for students with disabilities or unique learning styles, programs such as Lindamood Bell require more time and effort from you and your child. In lieu of school, most participants enroll in a daily program of four one-hour sessions for several months, which may be appropriate for your child if her reading or skill levels prevent her from contributing at school.

Online tutoring

If your child finds it difficult to work one-on-one with a tutor in your home or other location – or prefers to work independently – online chats may be effective, especially if she is comfortable communicating via computer. (It’s also a surefire bet for an older teen, who may be reluctant to visit a tutoring center, or for you, who may not be able to drive to a tutoring location 15 minutes away.)

If your teen needs help with an algebra problem, but it’s 10:00 at night, she can reach a live tutor 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with such services as TutorVista and Tutor.com. TutorVista offers unlimited tutoring per month for $99.99, so if your child anticipates a difficult month of biology homework, for instance, this option may be suitable.

At Tutor.com, the tutee pays by the minute – 60 minutes for $35, for example – so it’s a quick way to seek help on a specific assignment without having to drive to a tutoring center. Online tutoring doesn't replace face-to-face tutoring, in the same way phones and email do not replace face-to-face contact, says George Cigale, CEO of Tutor.com. But for students doing their homework at night, he says, it may be the only way to get help when they need it. Online tutoring allows them to get quick help in productive 20-25 minute chunks, he says.

Read more about the services and programs on this list, and you and your child will have a head start in your search for the right tutor.

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