3 Keys for Parents to a Healthy Relationship with a Tutor

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One of the great appeals of MyTownTutors is that it fosters a great relationship between parents and tutors, which is something we’re trying to replicate with Coach. And after recently surveying almost 300 tutors on how they’re participating in the online tutoring trend, I was able to ask a few other questions, including what tutors look for from the parents of their students.

Parents are often asked what they look for from tutors, but I thought it would be interesting (and it was) to hear from the other side (the tutor).

When I first reached out to Pranoy and Rowan (both are tutors on Coach), they were both surprised and delighted to hear that I wanted to talk to them about what they’re looking for from parents, as it’s not a topic that’s often spoken about. Normally the tutor has to take whatever comes their way from the parent being that it’s a service industry, so each of them was excited to share their thoughts.

In an effort to increase communication and happiness between tutors and parents, here’s what they said:

#1: Set expectations and goals beforehand

It’s up to the tutor to reasonably set expectations of what they demand from the parent, but the parent might not have realistic expectations.

“The tutor can be working their butt off, but if the student is not taking to it for some reason, that’s not necessarily the tutor’s fault,” Rowan says.

The risk is two-fold: You’ve got certain situations where the parent is scared because they need to make sure that their kid will make progress, but they’re also worried that the kid is not making progress fast enough. This leads to the parent getting really nervous about progress and then the tutor feeding off that nervousness because they feel as if they have to perform.

“They now feel as if their performance has to be higher and everyone gets worked up and the kid suffers,” Rowan adds.

One tactic Rowan suggests is letting the parent know that you require “x” amount of commitment from a student and then if the parent doesn’t think it’s going to work, then you (the tutor) can recommend someone else.

“A lot of this can be settled beforehand by spending ten minutes off the books to discuss what the common goals are, so they can understand each other’s position,” Rowan tells me about having a frank and open conversation with the parents of his students.

#2: Remember that parents and tutors are on the same team

“It’s often an adversarial relationship if you let it get out of control,” Rowan tells me, but it doesn’t have to be. Parents and tutors need to be on the same page because they have a common goal in mind. It’s a relationship that needs to be built on mutual respect.

The relationship between parent and tutor will begin to splinter if the parent doesn’t trust the tutor and starts to side with their kid over them. That’s easier said than done, but that’s why it’s important to remember that you’re on the same team.

#3: Open communication between parent and tutor

Keeping an open dialogue throughout a tutoring engagement is important. One thing that parents can do is to routinely ask the tutor how the student is doing. Rowan sees problems occurring in the relationship between parent and student when the parent feels cut off from discussion.

Pranoy thinks communication is the most important part: “I prefer to have a lot of open communication. I hate to be thrown curve balls. I hate to hear that a student has a test only a day before. The parents need to be on top their kids with what they have to do and then communicate it to me in a timely manner.”

To that end, Pranoy is comfortable with all forms of communication: text, email, and phones, but prefers texting and emailing over calling. Pranoy adds, “I don’t prefer calling, because I can’t always pick up and then the parent gets frustrated.”

Part of great communication is that parents need to understand a tutor’s timing. Tutors are always on the run and they have other students. Pranoy tells me: “We try very hard to be flexible, but our schedule can’t evolve around the parents. Please give us as much advanced notice as possible. Don’t call me last second. Just book time with me on Coach.”

Let’s put these best practices into play!

What it comes down to it, here’s what tutors are looking for from the parents of their students:

  • Parents to help set and have reasonable expectations

  • Mutual respect between parents and tutors

  • Remember that parents and tutors are on the same team

  • Keep an open and active dialogue between tutors and parents

When these best practices are observed, the parent and tutor will have a great relationship and their student will be more successful as a result.

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