It seems as though most extra-curricular activities involve a teacher figure for your child. How can you be sure the teacher is not just wasting your money, though? To avoid the awkwardness of having a teacher that just isn’t working out, ask this list of questions to a potential art, music, drama, or other teacher before you start taking private lessons:
- What is your background in studying this form? You want a teacher who has studied his or her area of expertise for at least five years. Generally, the longer, the better! Ask where the teacher has studied at and under who. If you can also find out the style/genre they studied, you will also be able to know what things they will emphasize to your child.
- What has determined your favorite and worst teachers (that you have taken lessons from), and why? The good things will be the things she repeats, and the worst things will hopefully be the things she won’t repeat in teaching your child!
- Do you charge me even if I can’t make a lesson? It’s not uncommon for a teacher to charge if you cancel unless it’s an emergency. Think of it as payment for holding your spot in their teaching queue. While this isn’t a bad thing, it is important to know so that you aren’t caught owing money unexpectedly.
- What exactly is involved in your instruction (theory, design, performance, history, etc.)? Make sure your teacher can articulate the different areas that he will cover. Don’t take from a teacher who doesn’t have a plan!
- How many students do you have? Consider the length of time the teacher as been teaching and also if this is a full or part time job for her. If the number of students don’t seem to line up with how much time she has available or has been teaching for, you may want to ask for references just to make sure she doesn’t only have a few students because they don’t stay with her long!
- How long have you been teaching? Generally, the longer the better. Teaching techniques get better with time.
- Can we just start with one month of lessons and then I will let you know if we want to continue? This will give you a polite way to leave if things don’t work out. Within the first month of taking, you should be able to tell if your personalities are getting along, if his teaching style is appropriate for your child, and if the overall experience is going to be a positive one.
- What is your policy on parental involvement and observation? The more a teacher wants you to be involved, the better! She should always have an open door policy for the safety of your child, and should routinely communicate with you on how your child is progressing and what you can do to help.
If your teacher still doesn’t work out even after you’ve done your homework and asked all of the right questions, don’t feel obligated to continue with the lessons. Politely let him or her know that you won’t be taking lessons anymore, and find another teacher. Having a good relationship with a good teacher is what will make or break your child’s success in learning something new!