6 ways to find the best maths tutor (and why it’s worth it)
20 Sep 2022
20 Sep 2022
It’s a fact: Australian students have embraced private tutoring to help them secure places at top-performing schools and universities, both at home and overseas.
According to the Australian Tutoring Association, at Sydney’s top high schools, 50% of the student body will have had some kind of private tutoring. Compare this to an average of only 14% of students nationwide, and it’s clear that tutoring plays a huge part in the school experience of top performing learners, particularly for technically tough subjects like mathematics.
It isn’t just the academic side of schooling either. A maths tutor helps a student understand course material and prepare for exams, but they are also able to teach lifelong learning skills that have benefits at university and beyond.
Having the right maths tutor has plenty of advantages, but it takes time to find the right maths tutor. There are as many options for tutors as there are students in need of tutoring, and what’s appropriate for one learner may not be for others. The wrong tutor may even do more harm than good!
But there are some common factors in top-performing maths tutors. Whether you’re looking for a long-term relationship to help a student blaze a successful path in school, or just a quick booster shot to help them turn a B into an A, these are the things to watch out for to discover an excellent maths tutor:
Ask to see what their technology platform looks like – that’ll give you a good sense of whether it’s really a core focus of their business.Miles Campbell, Director – Accel iQ
“The most important thing to consider,” says Mohan Dhall, Academic Leader at Accel iQ, “is the relevant experience of the tutor to the needs of your student.”
“Does the tutoring service have a track record of success in their level of education and subject matter?”
The best place to find this information is in testimonials. A qualified tutor or tutoring service should have these in spades, so make sure to ask about your student’s particular needs and how they’ve been fulfilled in the past. How does the service operate? How is the tuition structured? How do the tutors lead sessions and communicate with parents?
“It’s important to make sure that a maths tutor has more than a university degree,” Dhall continues. “They should have teaching experience and many hours of real classroom training.”
The sign of a great teacher is the ability to explain something simply. Any maths tutor should be knowledgeable on their subject, but they should also be able to communicate that knowledge in a digestible way to their students.
The better they are at communicating on the level of their students – and change their communication style if it isn’t working – the more engaging the tutor will be.
Any good tutor must be able to unpack the ‘why’ of the learning, especially in a technical subject such as mathematics, as well as explain the theory clearly.
When you engage a mathematics tutor, it should be with a particular goal in mind. A good exam score, an excellent ATAR, a better understanding of the material – perhaps all of the above – but there should always be a goal in mind.
A tutor’s lesson plans and teaching materials should reflect that goal. They should be easy to follow (for both parents and students) and there should be a clear path to your intended end result.
Speak to the tutor and ask to see their materials and an example lesson plan to ensure their materials complement your child’s academic goals. It pays to check that they are teaching to the newly revamped HSC syllabus as well.
From the humble whiteboard to the most cutting edge online tutoring software, technology is vital to the success of tutoring – especially in an increasingly online-centric world.
“Ask how much online tutoring [the tutoring service] has completed,” says Miles Campbell, Accel iQ Director.
“Many companies have recently been forced to move online because of COVID-19, but they have very little experience in making online instruction effective.”
“Ask to see what their technology platform looks like – that’ll give you a good sense for whether it’s really a core focus of their business.”
Any tutoring service, whether online or otherwise, should provide a learning environment which allows for collaboration. Live discussions, polls and quizzes have been proven to help students learn content in different ways. Collaborative learning with other students is a sure-fire way to help the content stick.
Every student has different needs and different ways that they learn best. For some, a physical tutoring environment, where they can work alongside other students, is ideal. For others, an online environment is more practical and/or more effective.
Regardless of the student’s preference, any tutor you engage must have the credentials, materials and technological savvy to make the most of their chosen environment. Check the credentials of the tutor to see if they have specialised education in a particular teaching style. Check over their past experience and track record in the relevant tutoring arena.
It’s simple: tutors with experience in a particular tutoring environment get better results for the students in said tutoring environment. Don’t settle for a generalist!
Tutors aren’t just supplementary to traditional schooling. They’re teachers, certainly, but they’re also mentors and inspirational figures for many of their students.
The best maths tutors are able to assist students with more than just how to navigate a particular subset of mathematics, or how to score their best in an exam. Top-performing maths tutors help their students work their way towards their academic goals, whether that’s university entrance or acceptance to a specialist programme.
Keep an eye out for tuition services which have teachers and tutors with holiday programs like robotics, programming, or even career planning and skills development.
It’s a fact: the best maths tutors aren’t just maths tutors!