Tutoring involves many aspects, but the fundamentals are still about helping your child academically, so a great tutor has to be strong in her subject domain.
It’s not true that only PhD or ex-MOE teachers have strong domain knowledge. A dedicated tutor with a decent education background, who is constantly improving her skills, will accumulate enough knowledge to teach well.
However, if your child is looking for help in specialized programs like GEP, IP or IB, then you should be very specific in looking for tutors who have a track record teaching such syllabus, because the content involved might be quite different.
We all know highly knowledgeable academics who simply don’t teach well. Academic qualification should never be confused with the ability to teach.
How to look for good teaching skills? You can either look for testimonials or reviews from past students in their profiles, or you can request for a trial lesson.
During the trial lesson, get your child to ask about some confusing or challenging concepts, and see if the tutor is able to explain it clearly.
Having subject domain knowledge, and a strong ability to teach – yet a tutor still might not engage your child.
Why? Because the tutor is unable to connect to your child emotionally. She is unable to speak to your child’s heart, only to your child’s mind.
A truly effective tutor engages in small talks, asking lots of questions to get to know your child. She treats your child as an unique human being with emotions, preferences, hopes and dreams, not just as someone to receive her information.
How do you know whether a tutor has empathy? Ask your child after a trial lesson, see whether your child likes the tutor.