Need a tutor? Here’s what to look for, and where to find help

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA). – When do you need to consider a tutor for your child? Teacher input is important, of course, but factors that can contribute to the need for a tutor include:

  • Slipping grades
  • Poor time management
  • Consistent confusion with the curriculum
  • Lack of confidence
  • Decreasing parental supervision
  • Learning disabilities

For many parents, however, hiring a private tutor can be costly. Drawing on local resources, such as area universities, may be a cost-effective option, as it provides not only assistance for your child, but learning opportunities for future teachers, too.

“With my children, I hired a tutor because sometimes Mom doesn’t know squat!,” jokes Professor Joan Kaywell, PhD., Director of the University of South Florida’s College of Education Honors Program, known as the SunCoast Area Teacher Training and Education Research (SCATTER). The program, which is devoted to the professional development of students, helps future teachers earn advanced degrees by, in part, tutoring middle and high school students in Hillsborough County Public Schools.

Says Dr. Kaywell, “What we know is the best instruction for a child is one-on-one.”

She says there are three important factors that can lead to success between a tutor and student.

  • Established rapport between the tutor and student
  • Instruction happens outside of the home. Dr. Kaywell says a library is the idea place, because it provides a quiet environment with limited distractions, allowing the student and tutor to focus on one another.
  • Tutors insist their student reads something, even if it’s not a book or assignment from the teacher. Kaywell’s philosophy is, “The right book at the right time for the right reader.”

For more information on tutoring services through the USF College of Education/SCATTER, call 813-974-2061 or email

Some Pinellas County schools have partnerships that pair National Honor Society students from high schools with elementary students in need of additional help. The school system also encourages tutoring and mentor-ship through its strategic partnerships office.

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Be sure to watch WFLA News Channel 8 from 4:30 to 7 a.m. during the month of August. Every morning, we’ll bring you a special back-to-school story to help you and your family prepare for the school year.

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