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How to find the right private tutor for your child

What makes a great private tutor? The right qualifications are just the start.

find a private tutor for your child

If your child's school has suggested working with a private tutor, or if your family has come to the decision that a private tutor would be helpful for your child, your first question is probably, "How exactly do we find one?"

The good news is that as the tutoring industry continues to grow, so do your options. The past decade has seen a significant rise in the number of private instructors—each with their own area of expertise, teaching techniques and learning philosophies.

The tough part? With so many dedicated and available instructors, sifting through the many qualified candidates to choose the right one can be a challenge. As a parent, your priority is to identify someone who best suits your child's needs, learning style and personality.

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Here are some key things to consider if you're on the hunt for a tutor.

Review their qualifications

Tutors come with a wide variety of degrees, certifications and credentials. While all should have a solid background in basic courses such as English, mathematics, history, science and world languages, the key is to find someone who specializes in the subjects you'd like your child to focus on.

While parents tend to value tutors with advanced specialization degrees, holding a degree or being an expert in an area does not necessarily indicate a good tutor. Equally important—if not more—is your potential candidate's teaching methodology and background.

Keep an eye out for candidates with education-related certifications, such as degrees in teaching or certificate programs in tutoring. Look for certification from respected certifying tutor training groups, such as the American Tutoring Association, the Association for Tutoring Professionals or the National Tutoring Association.

Look at their overall experience

Just because an instructor has a PhD in a specific subject doesn't mean they will be able to teach it in a way that a child will understand. It is only through years of experience in private teaching that they develop the ability to explain concepts without coming off as intimidating or confusing.

When choosing a tutor, you should seek out candidates who are not only knowledgeable in their field but who have experience with one-to-one teaching. You'll also want a tutor who has worked with students in your child's age group. If your child has a learning disability, it's recommended to hire someone with experience in working with students with that disability.

Consider approachability

In some cases, a student's struggle with a certain subject stems from anxiety that's created by an unsupportive classroom environment or unapproachable teacher.

Connect your child with a private instructor they feel comfortable being around. An approachable tutor can reduce negative associations with school or a specific subject while rekindling an interest in learning. Your child's private education coach should be able to explain difficult material without being discouraging, motivating them to want to do their best.

Prioritize someone who is patient

Patience should be a trait every teacher possesses—since everyone learns differently and at their own pace. Understanding this allows for a better tutor/student relationship. If the student feels that their instructor is easily irritated, they'll hold back.

Find a tutor with passion

Just as children can pick up on a tutor's boredom or disinterest, genuine passion and enthusiasm for a topic can be contagious. An instructor who genuinely enjoys teaching knows how to present any topic in a way that boosts student engagement. Their passion for learning should shine through in the positive energy they bring to sessions and in their interactive and creative lessons.

Seek encouragement

Words and actions can lift students up or break them down, which is why a motivational, encouraging tutor makes all the difference. Tutors don't just help their students progress in a subject, they foster creativity, develop potential, and help children visualize and work toward their goals.

Look for a growth mindset

A good instructor is eager to instill a growth mindset in their students. Meaning, you want a tutor who helps students believe that their abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work. Tutors have the important responsibility to nurture the critical, curious, and courageous minds of their students, and a growth mindset creates a love of learning.

Consider convenience

Even with the best tutor, your child will not be able to make the most of their sessions if lessons conflict with your family's schedule. Your student is unlikely to be in a state of mind that is conducive to learning immediately after a long day of school and soccer practice, or if they must wake up early in the morning to attend sessions before a regular, full school day. Nor will it facilitate progress if you constantly must cancel sessions due to scheduling issues.

To make life easier for you and your child, seek out a tutor who can visit your home or meet locally to avoid having to make a lengthy, round-trip drive for each session. Tutoring sessions can be held in your home with an adult present, or at a library or other mutually agreeable public location. If weekdays are jam-packed for you and your family, look for an instructor who can meet on weekends rather than add unnecessary stress to your week.

The right teacher can make a powerful, lasting impact—not only on a student's performance at school, but on their work-study habits, social and behavioral skills and ability to manage their learning. Finding the best tutor for your child's needs may take some digging and time, but it's worthwhile to find an important ally in your child's journey of lifelong learning.

After 4 kids, this is still the best baby gear item I’ve ever purchased

I wouldn't be swooning over the BABYBJÖRN bouncer after eight years and four kids if it didn't work.

I have four kids 8 and under, so you might expect that my house is teeming with baby gear and kid toys.

But it turns out that for me, the more kids I have, the more I simplify our stuff. At this point, I'm down to the absolute essentials, the gear that I can't live without and the toys my kids actually play with. And so when a mama-to-be asks me what things are worth registering for, there are only a few must-haves on my list.

The BABYBJÖRN bouncer seat is on the top of my list—totally worth it and an absolute must-have for any new mama.

In fact, since I first splurged on my first BABYBJÖRN bouncer eight years ago (it definitely felt like a splurge at the time, but the five star reviews were really compelling), the bouncer seat has become the most-used product in our house for baby's first year.

We've actually invested in a second one so that we didn't have to keep moving ours from the bedroom to the living room when we change locations.

BABYBJÖRN bouncer bliss

baby bjorn bouncer

The utility of the seat might seem counterintuitive—it has no mechanical parts, so your baby is instead gently bounced by her own movements. In a world where many baby products are touted for their ability to mechanically rock baby to sleep, I get that many moms might not find the "no-motion" bouncer that compelling. But it turns out that the seat is quite reactive to baby's little kicks, and it has helped my kids to learn how to self-soothe.

$200

Lightweight + compact:

The BABYBJÖRN bouncer is super lightweight, and it also folds flat in a second. Because of those features, we've frequently stored it under the couch, in a suitcase or in the back of the car. It folds completely flat, which I love.

Entertainment zone:

Is the toy bar worth it? The toy bar is totally worth it. Not only is the toy bar adorable, but it's one of the first toys that my babies actually play with once they discover the world beyond my boobs. The toys spin and are close to eye level so they have frequently kept my baby entertained while I cook or take a quick shower.

Great style:

This is not a small detail to me–the BABYBJÖRN bouncer is seriously stylish. I am done with baby gear and toys that make my house look like a theme park. The elegant European design honestly just looks good in my living room and I appreciate that parents can enjoy it as much as baby.

It's adjustable:

With three height settings that let you prop baby up to be entertained, or lay back to rest, we get years of use. And the bouncer can actually be adjusted for bigger kids and used from newborn to toddler age. It's that good.

It just works:

I wouldn't be swooning over the BABYBJÖRN bouncer after eight years and four kids if it didn't work. But I have used the seat as a safe space to put baby while I've worked (I once rocked my baby in it with my foot while I reported on a breaking news story for the Washington Post), and as a cozy spot for my second child to lay while his big brother played nearby. It's held up for almost a decade with almost-constant use.

So for me, looking back on what I thought was a splurge eight years ago, was actually one of the best investments in baby gear I ever made.

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.


And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

SONTAKEY  I Am Enough Bracelet

May this Oath Bracelet be your reminder that you are perfect just the way you are. That you are enough for your children, you are enough for your friends & family, you are enough for everything that you do. You are enough, mama <3

$35

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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