Finding the Right Tutor

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During my teaching years, I would encounter the following question at each Parent Night: “Can you recommend a good tutor?”

Any student who is having trouble getting good grades or understanding lessons would benefit from tutoring. Children of newcomers may need extra instruction in reading, speaking and writing English, if English is not their first language.

Tutoring can improve a child’s grades, build his/her self-esteem and establish positive lifelong learning habits. To achieve this level of success, consider following these steps:

Establish Goals

Isolate the areas in which your child is struggling. Don’t just say, “I want him to do better in school.” Be very clear and specific about your expectations. Do you want your child to improve his/her math scores? English speaking skills? Reading comprehension?

Start with the School

Is your child taking advantage of any extra help sessions offered by his/her teacher or peers? In Ontario, many high school students provide 40 hours of tutoring to meet the community service expectation required for their graduation diplomas.

Use Community Resources

Check with your local library and community centers. They may offer free tutoring sessions run by older students and retirees who have volunteered their time.

In Guelph, for instance, Settlement Officer Maryam Khademi runs Score High, a structured after-school program that covers topics such as English, mathematics and science. This program is available to newcomer children and youth, aged seven to eighteen.

Associate Professor Susan Chuang has also organized free tutoring in Guelph. So far, 50 secondary school students (half are newcomers) have taken advantage of the instruction offered by 31 tutors. These tutors include professors, graduate and undergraduate students, retired teachers and other members of the community. The Bookshelf Café provides the space and Toppers Pizza provides pizza.

Khademi and Chuang rely mainly on university students for tutoring. The screening process involves checking transcripts, obtaining police checks and interviewing the candidates. Both organizers hope to recruit more tutors and expand the programs.

Go Online

In Ontario, the Ministry of Education offers Homework Help – a free online math tutoring website for students in grades 7 to 10. Students can log in for 20 hours a week of individual, confidential math tutoring by certified Ontario teachers.

Visit Find a Tutor for information about tutors across Canada. This website provides a directory, connecting students with local tutors specializing in one-on-one academic experience. You could also go to Craigslist and click on the “Lessons” link underneath the “Services” section.

Visit Tutoring Centers

Schedule an interview with the director and bring a list of questions with you. For example: What is the teacher-to-student ratio? How will you assess my child? How flexible are the learning plans? Do I need to buy a package? What is the cost? Visit the centre in late afternoon or early evening and observe the students coming and going at that time. Do they look happy to be there?

Interview the Tutor

Ask about his qualifications and tutoring experience. If the tutor is offering help in a specific subject, certification or a degree in that area would be an advantage. Get the names and contact information of at least two references.

Consider how much you want to spend, and keep in mind that a high hourly rate does not always mean better tutoring. Depending on the subject and qualification of the tutors, hourly rates can range from $20 to over $50.

Take Advantage of the Children’s Art Tax Credit (CATC)

You may be able to claim eligible expenses of up to $500 per year for each child who participates in certain programs. According to Canada Revenue, those programs include ones that “help children develop and use particular intellectual skills.”


Homework Help –
Find a Tutor –
Craigslist –

Contact People

Maryam Khademi
Settlement Officer
Immigrant Services – Guelph Wellington
519-836-2222 ext. 233

Susan Chuang
Associate Professor
University of Guelph
519-824-4120 ext. 58389

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