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Find Tutoring in Seattle: There's a Wealth of Resources

Updated on March 6, 2013

Paid and Free Tutoring Options to Suit a Variety of Needs

There may be more tutoring resources in Seattle than you know about: some free, some paid. I tutor in the city, and sometimes I am asked to make recommendations outside my area of expertise or outside the geographical area where I can comfortably travel. If language is a barrier -- I do often work with second language language -- then it can come down to doing the leg work myself. Recently, a former client referred me to a family in Auburn. That's pretty far! I said I could tutor the child for the short term, but then I would need to locate someone for her for the long term.

This page is a resource for parents looking for services. I have put it together partly for my reference, but mostly for others. I have included information on programs which provided free tutoring services to eligible students. As for paid tutoring? I am showcasing, and offering advice for using, several of the big name tutor matching and connecting services. There are significant differences in how they operate. You may want to visit the site of each one in order to determine which best meets your needs. Please do check with the original sources -- I have included links under the profiles -- and please do make sure you understand the terms of services before signing with any service.

Image: koratmember /

Free Tutoring

Supplemental Educational Services

Supplemental Education Services (SES) tutoring is available to students who attend eligible schools and who qualify for free or reduced lunch. Eligible schools are often ones that face significant challenges. Students who attend these schools may come from dozens of different language backgrounds. They may live in neighborhoods where there is poverty and where many families lack stable housing.

What eligible schools have in common is that they failed to meet Adequate Yearly Progress requirements for at least three years. The philosophy is that if a school is not able to offer sufficient academic services during the school day to keep students on level, the students have a right to supplemental education. Parents of eligible Seattle students might choose to designate Seattle Public Schools as their SES provider or they might choose another approved organization.

The SES program is not unique to Seattle; it's mandated by law. If there are more students than there is program funding, enrollment may be limited to students with significant academic need. However, Seattle has done well in extending services to those who desire them. The school district itself is your best source of information about what you qualify for. You will want to make sure that you meet the open enrollment deadlines (and also that you are aware of changes in policy or funding that may affect you). The information I pulled from the internet is from the 2010 to 2011 school year. You can see what schools were SES eligible during that period.

Other Tutoring Available through the Public Schools

SES eligibility can increase your tutoring options. If you don't qualify, it doesn't necessarily mean your child won't receive tutoring through the school district. There are other schools that have on-site after school tutoring. There may also be tutors working at the school during the school day. In many cases, they are young people who are volunteering through Americorps or another service organization. Teachers often make recommendations about who is most in need of one-on-one attention during the school day.

Students who are determined to be eligible for special education services (due to a disability or learning problem) typically also receive a lot of individual attention during the school day. Their education is overseen by highly qualified individuals. Again, this is mandated by law. If you think there could be a learning problem that has not been identified or addressed by the school district, you should express your concerns. The public school calendar has days set aside for parent conferences, but this doesn't mean this is the only time you can talk to a teacher! If there is a problem that hasn't been solved, you are invited -- and indeed encouraged -- to seek support at any point during the school year.

Image: Paul Gooddy /

Catholic Community Services Youth Tutoring Program

Catholic Community Services also runs a free tutoring program in several areas of the city. Branches are located in areas where there are a lot of low income residents. Several centers are located in housing communities. There is also a branch at the Rainier Vista Boys and Girls Club.

826 Seattle (Free Writing Tutoring)

826 Seattle offers free writing tutoring for elementary and secondary students (age 6-18) on a first-come, first-serve basis. The focus is on writing, but there is limited amount of tutoring available in other subjects. There is one location, on Greenwood Ave (North Seattle). You do need to register beforehand to use the services.

King County Library

The King County Library System serves most King County communities outside of Seattle proper. The King County Library Study Zone offers free tutoring online and at select branches.

Paid Tutoring

TeachStreet - TeachStreet has become a part of Amazon Local.

I have watched this little company grow, and I have the utmost respect. Both private tutors and established schools post classes on TeachStreet. The site is inviting and user-friendly, and you can browse a lot of resources. Teachers and tutors may choose to write articles or feature their blog posts in order to establish a reputation for themselves. They may also have testimonials on the profile page. As a client, you make your own hiring decisions, and generally but the staff may intervene to offer assistance. I was recently called on the telephone because there was a client who hadn't located a tutor.

TeachStreet began with a focus on lifelong learning -- e.g. enrichment classes, largely targeted toward adults -- but you'll find a lot of tutors and schools advertising sessions for young people. You will find options at a range of price levels. It is not necessarily a site where I would refer a second language family and expect them to make a hiring decision.It would, however, probably be my first choice for making inquiries, or helping locate someone for a family.

If you feel nervous about hiring an unknown person, and like the idea of knowing they have passed a criminal background check, then you might want to try one of the other options below.

I've had good experiences with I've been tutoring one family for a year, and it's worked out very well on both sides. Reading reviews on Amazon tonight, I realize that satisfaction levels vary. Part of having a positive experience is knowing what to expect and what to do at each step of the way. is different than most services in that they will charge you a monthly fee for certain services: You can access candidate's background check and send messages through a secure system without giving out personal information. Essentially, you're paying for basic security while retaining control of the hiring process.

Don't think that tutors are hired by the company or that all of them are necessarily expert teachers. However, the company gives you tools to find those who are. Tutors may choose to put up a resume, references, and other materials. You will need to be proactive in looking at candidates' profile. You'll find that this is another colorful, user-friendly site. You may have a sense of how professional a tutor is, or how well they know their material, by their initial letter to you. (I generally write a couple of paragraphs when I apply for a position, and I labor over those paragraphs.) You can browse profiles, I'll note, without paying a fee.

The fee, of course, is a consideration for many people. If you use multiple services -- tutoring, babysitting, other in-home care -- you'll be getting more for your money. Some people sign on with the intention of having a membership for only a very short period of time, and getting all their interviewing and hiring done during that time. Realize that there is a small sign on fee, so if you use the service for only a month, you will pay higher than the usual monthly charge.

Also realize that the company will run a background check on you as well. Occasionally a client can run into a hassle because of someone else with the same name having a criminal background. The chances of this happening, though, are low, and if a mistake is made, the company is committed to righting it (i.e. reinstating membership).

Club Z! Tutoring

Club Z! is a tutor matching service for those seeking in-home lessons. While I don't have personal experience with the organization, I understand that they have a good reputation and low rates. Tutors are college graduates, though not always certified teachers. They do have background screenings.

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