teach your children well (legally?)
January 18, 2008 11:56 AM   Subscribe

If I were a private tutor for children, what laws would pertain to me? What credentials would I need?

I'm in California, have a Masters in Ed, and a preliminary teaching credential (meaning, i still haven't gotten my full credential because i haven't taught in the classroom long enough, and probably won't).

If I want to become a private tutor, one that supplements school:
-does the California Education Code apply to my work? (I can't seem to find this info on the Cal Ed website, which seems to focus more on homeschooling which takes the place of school.)
-do I need to have an active teaching credential?
-what is the line of being an academic instructor vs. someone that supports a child's social-emotional well being? can i incorporate both? or, does that get into counseling too much? (i'm not talking major issues that need a professional's help, just basic stuff)
posted by cloudgazer to Education (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If you intend to take on students for an hour or so a week and help them understand what they are learning in school, I don't think you need any kind of official credential. If you intend to replace schooling for them (for instance, home school a student), then some states require you to have the same certifications that a public school teacher is required to have. In California, a tutor can be a parent or other person who holds a current California credential for the grade levels of the homeschooled children.

Furthermore, there are usually regulations concerning what education home schooled children must have, and documentation requirements to make sure these regulations have been complied with. Even if you are not required by law to know or deal with these (which I think is the case in California), as a parent I would expect you to both know the law and keep records that made it easy for me to demonstrate that my child was being properly educated.
posted by ubiquity at 12:28 PM on January 18, 2008

I have done tutoring in CA, but as an employee of a larger company, not as an independent contractor. Just like for a credential, my company required that I be livescanned (fingerprinted, background checked, entered into the system by the local sheriff) and provide a TB test. I don't know whether these requirements were statutory or for liability, but the fact that they're the same requirements I faced to be a substitute makes me think there might be some legal basis. I have also known several people who worked independently as tutors, and who didn't have anything official like that, but as far as I know they were not licensed business people, but rather working sort-of-under-the-table (gray-market tutors?)
posted by agentofselection at 12:57 PM on January 18, 2008

INAL and I don't live in CA, but I've tutored a lot in PA and it's always been "under the table".

I have a degree in elementary education and put up a sign at a supermarket to make some extra money. I would get phone calls and talk to the parents. The usual conversation would include my credentials and what I tutored. The parents would tell me "my son needs help with math, he's in 3rd grade". I'm qualified to teach that with my degree and can handle it, so I would accept the job. If they said, "my son needs help with algebra and he's in 9th grade," I would tell them I wasn't qualified.

Never did I act as a counselor or someone who supports the child's well being. I had a lot of success (more than the parents did) because I was someone different who spent one-on-one time with the student. Yes, their self esteem usually improved because their grades improved, but that was the extent of that. I am not a qualified counselor.

You might find some tips for getting started in this post.
posted by NoraCharles at 2:59 PM on January 18, 2008

I've been tutoring for years w/o any credentials. I think it falls under the same rules as babysitting, though. Who's going to check, really? Your biggest worry is going to be making sure the parents are convinced you're doing a good job. A lot of people will want to see immediate results and that's not always going to happen.

And any tutor with his/her salt will tell you that teaching relies more on psychology than knowing the material. I mean, knowing the material is a must, but what's more important is knowing how to motivate someone into being interested in and actually enjoying learning. Teaching someone to welcome and relish in challenge rather than shy away from expending effort.

But for the record, I also taught Saturday school at a non-profit organization. I don't know if it's because the school was particularly lax or what, but no one ever checked my credentials there, either. They were more interested in knowing what I could do and seeing how I could handle the kids. I figure tutoring, which is even less official, will have even looser standards.
posted by reebear at 3:48 PM on January 18, 2008

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