With school starting, now is a great time to consider what tutoring needs your child might have during the year ahead, whether it’s catching up in a subject area or preparing for a standardized test.

“Your child’s academic needs are paramount, but many different options can meet those needs,” says Stephanie Garland, Better Business Bureau (BBB) Springfield Regional Director. “Consumers should think about many factors before hiring a tutor.”

Consider the frequency of the tutoring, the type of tutor, the subject matter, the cost and more. One resource is BBB Business Profiles. These Profiles include BBB customer reviews, complaints, BBB rating from A+ to F, the business’ BBB Accreditation status and more.

BBB received about 120 complaints last year about tutoring services. Common complaints involve paying for sessions that tutors didn’t attend, quality of lessons, and difficulty obtaining a refund.

One woman told BBB in June 2019 that she booked tutoring for her daughter through a St. Louis-area tutoring service, but ultimately canceled her appointment in favor of a different service. She said the first tutoring service charged her card anyway and did not provide her with a copy of its refund policy. She said the business did not respond to her calls and emails requesting a refund.

The following BBB tips can help you in selecting the best tutoring service for your child:

• Know your options. Tutoring services can include in-home one-on-one sessions, small group lessons, online instruction, and tutoring centers. Services may be available through tutoring companies, individual freelance tutors, or even your child’s school.

• Ask for referrals. Friends, family, teachers, other school employees and other families at your child’s school can all offer insight into the tutoring available in your area.

• Understand your child’s needs. Does your child need homework help? Long-term lessons? Test prep? Make sure the tutor is knowledgeable in the specific area your child needs help in and has experience working with students your child’s age.

• Ask about educational qualifications and past experience.

• Check references. You should ask the individual tutor or tutoring service for references, and contact them. It’s best to speak to at least three references. Ask about their experience with the tutor and what sort of results they saw. Is the tutor dependable? Friendly? Knowledgeable?

• Discuss the details. Make sure to cover availability, cost, frequency of tutoring sessions, and the overall length of time you’ll need the tutor.

• Include your child in the hiring process. Make sure your child is comfortable with the tutor you hire, and check in frequently while your child is being tutored. Keep tabs on the tutor’s effectiveness and how your child’s needs are being met.

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