Remember the days when all a child needed to succeed in school were a pencil and a notebook? With curriculums and exams getting more and more complex, your child may need the help of a tutor in order to keep up. A qualified tutor can mean the difference between just passing and making the honor roll.
But while as parents we want to give our kids every advantage, can our budgets handle that extra expense? It may be easier than you think.
Homework helper: If your child only needs some basic help with homework, you may not have to hire a tutor at all. If you already have a go-to babysitter or after-school sitter, that person may be well-qualified to lend a hand. (And it will save you the expense of hiring two separate people.) Make sure you ask if your sitter is interested before unloading these new responsibilities.
What to pay: Babysitters in Rhode Island, for example, typically make about $11 per hour (that rate varies depending on your neighborhood and how many kids you have). If you're asking your sitter to help with homework, you should add on a few dollars an hour.
High school or college student: No sitter? Head to the local high school or college. A student a few years older than your child may be able to help with light homework and tutoring. You can even look for someone who excels in or is majoring in the area your child is having problems with.
What to pay: Similar to a homework helper, expect to pay a student about $10 to $15 per hour.
Private tutor: If your child is struggling in school and needs some extra help, a professional tutor may be the way to go. You can hire a certified or trained person to come to your home and work with your son or daughter. If your child is having a problem in a specific subject, look for someone who specializes in that area.
What to pay: Rates for private tutors vary widely depending on qualifications, but expect to pay about $25 to $50 per hour. Ask your child's teacher or school for recommendations. If you want to save money on tutor costs, ask your child's friends' parents about getting together for a mini group tutoring session. Keep it small, so the kids still get individualized attention.
Tutoring center: Rather than hiring an independent tutor, you can also work with a tutoring or learning center. These companies often offer curriculums and learning materials that can help your child learn in a more structured way.
What to pay: Every center structures its pay scale or tuition differently. Look for rates of about $50 per session. Many companies also offer financial aid or financing programs to help with costs.
Test prep tutor: When it's time for the dreaded SATs, high school admissions tests or one of those other evil standardized exams that educators dream up, a tutor can be a huge help. These tests aren't only about knowing the information; they're about knowing how to take these tests. Unfair, but true. A tutor can help walk your student through the specific tricks for surviving these tests.
What to pay: These more specialized tutors can often charge a premium a bit above the typical tutor rates. Again, look into doing a small group session with other students taking the same test.
Katie Bugbee is the senior managing editor and resident parenting expert of Care.com. A busy working mother of two, she's an expert on many parenting dilemmas, from appeasing picky eaters to finding the perfect babysitter.