1. Do you require me to sign a contract? Don't worry if a tutor asks you to sign a paper that confirms the hourly rate, documents how often he/she will get paid, and outlines the cancellation policy. This contract will benefit both you and the tutor. After all, this is a business relationship, and it is good for both parties to have in writing the details about payment and cancellations. However, if a tutor wants you to sign a contract that commits you to paying for a specified number of sessions in advance, then you should beware. What if your son tells you after the second session that the tutor is not being helpful, and he hates her? You don't want to have to keep taking him to her just because you signed a contract that says they will have 10 sessions together. And you don't want to lose all the money you spent and get no help at all. Then you are stuck. Just read the contract carefully, and if there are parts of it you don't agree with, discuss them with the tutor and see if you can modify the contract. If you can't, don't sign the contract and look for another tutor.
2. Can we meet with you? Most tutors will agree to meet with the parents and student (at no charge) before they begin tutoring. This meeting should allow you the opportunity to check out the home of the tutor and inspect the area where the tutoring will take place to make sure it is suitable. If you are scheduling tutoring at a location other than the tutor's home, this meeting will serve as a job interview. Make sure the student is able to attend this meeting. How the student relates to the tutor is much more important than whether or not the parents like the tutor. If the tutor only talks to the parents and ignores the student, you may want to seriously consider whether or not the tutor will be able to communicate educational information to your child. If the tutor seems more interested in your child than you, take it as a good sign, a sign that the tutor genuinely likes kids. Of course you will want to make sure the tutor communicates with you and finds out your expectations for tutoring. If the tutor cannot meet with you because of scheduling conflicts, the tutor may be too busy to take on additional clients and may not have the time to give your child the attention he/she deserves.
3. Do you offer any guarantees? There are no guarantees in life. You may want the tutor to promise you that the student's grades will improve or that the student will study more or that student will start to have a better attitude about doing homework. While all these things might result from your student working with a tutor, the tutor can't promise that they will happen. Remember if your child is behind in school, it will take awhile to catch up. Don't expect an instant fix to the problem. If you know your student is two grade levels behind, don't expect him/her to catch in one six weeks. So how will you know if the money you are spending for a tutor is worth it? If your student doesn't mind going to tutoring, and the tutor can show you what they are working on regularly, then you can trust that they are making progress. Of course the ultimate goal of tutoring is for the student to become an independent learner, so you should make sure the tutor is encouraging the student to take responsibility for his/her studies and not simply helping the student complete his/her homework.
4. When do you get paid? The way tutors get paid will vary with each one. Tutors can get paid for each individual session, weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. Some tutors will want their money in advance while others are content to get paid after services have been rendered. Some tutors will be flexible about when they get paid and others will not. Just remember that the tutor also has bills to pay, and so if they have a certain way they want to be paid, try to accommodate them. If they have a lot of clients and each one pays in a different way, it will be hard for them to keep track of who has paid and who has not. Make sure you work out an agreement about payment in advance of beginning tutoring so that everyone will know what to expect.
5. Will you invoice me? Many tutors will not have the capability to take credit cards, but if they do, you will have a record of your payment when you receive your credit card statement each month. If you pay by check, keeping a record is easy. You either have it on a duplicate check or on your monthly statement. However, if you pay cash, make sure the tutor gives you a written receipt with the date you made the payment and what the payment covers (the dates and lengths of the tutoring sessions). Many tutors will provide you with a typed invoice for tutoring. If so, keep them in a file folder and make a notation on them about how you paid. If you pay with check, write the check number, amount, and date paid on the invoice. If you pay with cash, simply make a notation of the amount paid in cash and the date you paid it. If you want, you can even have the tutor initial the information for verification. This kind of record keeping ensures that there is never any discrepancy between you and the tutor regarding payment.