When I was growing up, tutors and academic classes were uncommon. Things are dramatically different now.
Tutoring is among the fastest growing industries in the world today, and according to the research firm Global Industry Analysis, it is expected to reach $196 billion by 2020.
Private tutors aren’t the only growing academic assistance industry; enrichment classes and programs that offer math, reading, and science coaching are also growing. This article takes a look at the options parents have for academic assistance, and the factors they may want to consider when choosing one over another.
The Differences Between Tutoring and Enrichment Classes
Tutoring generally refers to teaching that takes place at an individual or small group level. It can include private tutors whom parents hire, or tutoring franchises, such as Sylvan and Huntington, where parents sign a contract with the company and are matched with a tutor.
On the other hand, enrichment classes, such as Kumon and Eye Level, have their own defined curriculum and material. They use diagnostic tests to determine the starting level of the student, then recommend a set of courses that fits the child’s tutoring needs. The amount of teaching time varies by franchise, and students may have limited one-on-one time with instructors since classes are taught in a group setting.
Which One Works Better?
It depends. Here are some factors to consider when choosing one type of academic coaching over the other:
Think about why your child needs coaching
Parents typically put their kids into academic coaching for one of the following reasons:
- The child is struggling in school.
- Parents want to give their kids a competitive edge and believe that the school curriculum may not be challenging enough.
If it is the former, and a child needs help to keep up with the class, a private tutor might work best, since she can effectively diagnose and focus on the area of concern. Given the set curriculum in enrichment classes, there isn’t much flexibility to tailor the teaching and material to an individual student.
Consider the age of the child
Having spoken to parents of elementary, middle, and high school kids, I have heard that enrichment coaching usually works best in the early years. As kids move into high school, they need to focus on preparing for standardized tests. They prefer to move into classes that are tailored towards the SAT and other exams, rather than enrichment classes which tend to have a broader focus.
Take your child’s personality into account
If your child is easily distracted and needs individualized attention, enrichment classes may not be for her. Enrichment centers can get quite crowded at peak time, and it is up to each child to stay focused to finish her work.
However, some kids learn better with a group, and find the one-on-one interaction too overwhelming. I saw that firsthand with my son, when his interest in chess decreased after we switched him to one-on-one coaching. He missed interacting and playing the game with other kids. The same can happen for math or reading if a child thrives in a group setting.
Research the quality of the teachers
Tutoring agencies and private tutors often have teaching experience. In fact, some of them work at schools, in addition to tutoring. The instructors in many of the enrichment classes tend to be younger, many of them in high school or college.
Look at what makes sense for your budget
Since tutors tend to come with more experience, they are also a far more expensive option. A lesson with a qualified private tutor can cost as much as $60 an hour or more, and high-end SAT tutors can charge well over $100 an hour. Enrichment classes are much cheaper and typically cost in the range of $100 to $150 per month for one subject.
Discover which option works best for your family’s schedule
For busy parents who do not have the time to sit daily with their kids and supervise their work, enrichment classes can be difficult. Most of them have homework that kids need to do on a regular basis. Some classes even require parents to check the homework. For parents who are looking to outsource some of their child’s academic learning, a tutor would work better.
If you think that an enrichment class might be a better fit for your family, check out our article: After-School Math Enrichment Programs.
If you are interested in finding a tutor, check out Noodle’s tutoring search engine to find someone near you. Click here.
Market Research Report Collections. (n.d.). Retrieved November 21, 2014, from Global Industry Analysis.
Behind America's Tutor Boom. (n.d.). Retrieved November 21, 2014, from MarketWatch.