August 2009

Should you hire a private tutor for your child?

More and more parents are choosing this option. But it isn’t free …

According to the Canadian Council on Learning, one out of every three parents in Canada is now paying up to $70 an hour to provide a private tutor for his or her child. Until very recently, helping a child with his or her homework was considered strictly as the parents’ responsibility. But nowadays, with adults facing the growing demands of professional life, it has become … yet another item to add to the family budget.

More homework than before?

Besides the fact that parents are busier than ever, homework does seem to require much more from children these days. According to a survey conducted in Ontario last year, no less than 75% of parents feel that their children have more, even much more, homework than they themselves had at their age.

So, if you feel a little overwhelmed when you see your son unpacking his school bag, don’t be. You’re not alone. And, like many others, you may decide to resort to outside help. 

An actively growing market

It’s not surprising that the tutoring market in Canada is growing by leaps and bounds. The number of businesses providing this service is up 200% to 500% compared to the 1990s – which is more than the growth of the student population itself! 

And, in many cases, we’re not simply talking about a retired teacher who comes and sits at the kitchen table until the parents come home. We’re talking about comprehensive services provided by businesses – sometimes franchises of large international companies – that provide bus transportation and even a healthy snack.

There are other solutions as well, virtual solutions, that is, that provide online tutoring services, often from as far as … Bangalore, in India.

A new budgetary item

This being said, at $40 to $70 an hour – which is the average price range for these services – tutoring can quickly add up to several thousands of dollars over a school year. Thing is, is it really worth it? Here are some useful questions you might ask yourself.

  • How’s your relationship as a couple? As strange as this question may seem, one of the key benefits of hiring a tutor is that it reduces stress between the spouses. Is your relationship worth the price?
  • How are your finances? The services of a tutor can be very expensive. If hiring one means cutting into the vacation budget or a week’s break as a family, perhaps another solution might be better.
  • Can you consider keeping this service long term? A tutor is not only for students who are having problems. Most children who have a tutor are getting As and Bs! Once you’ve started using one, it’s hard to stop … Can you ensure your child will have this service until he or
    she is ready for college?
  • Can one of the parents continue to assume to cost if the other is no longer around? If not, perhaps you should revise your financial security strategy to include this item.

Above all: shop around and ask questions. Like any other service, tutoring is a market that includes both quality and mediocrity. Ask for references. And make sure the services being offered are in line with your child’s educational path.

Once you find the right tutor, don’t hesitate to evaluate his or her services periodically and
to ask for progress reports. After all, it’s your money!

More importantly, it’s your child’s future.