8 tips for tutoring

8 Tips for Tutoring Students

Whether you’re an experienced teacher or are about to give your very first lesson, you want to make a positive first impression and help your student on their learning path.

In this article, we share helpful tips on how to give tutoring sessions to get the most out of your classes.

Tips for preparing for a lesson

1. Prepare for the lesson

Discover as much information as possible about the pupil and his/her problem prior to the first lesson. Connect the dots between the subject and the topics they need help with, their level and the syllabus. Do not forget to ask them to bring all relevant course materials, such as manuals, to the first tutorial session. Together with the student, you can determine which teaching materials are relevant and in which areas the pupil needs help.

Remember to agree on a fixed date, time and location. It is a good idea to call the day before and confirm that the lesson will take place as planned.

2. Create the right lesson environment

Find a quiet place for your lesson, somewhere without distractions. You should be able to sit next to the pupil. Don’t forget to bring all the materials you need. Also take extra writing material and paper with you, in case the pupil forgets to take it with you.

Tips for during the lesson

3. Set the pupil at ease

Start by proposing yourself. Tell them about your background and explain why you love the subject. Be professional and friendly, and remember that you remind them that you are there to help them and that they can ask all the questions. There are no stupid questions.

Let them tell you something about themselves, maybe their families or things they like and where they enjoy outside school. For example, if they are interested in football, you may be able to handle this in math lessons, so keep your ears open.

4. Determine what the problem is

Is your student excellent in the humanities, but discouraged by mathematics or exact sciences? Are they quick in solving mathematical problems, but not so good at expressing themselves? Let them tell you what they find difficult. Listen carefully, remember to ask ‘ why ‘ questions, as this will help you identify the cause of their learning problem.

Remember that there are also educational tools and methods that may help you. For example, if the student has difficulty remembering large amounts of information, let them practice with mindmaps. This method can be very useful as a visual tool to connect large amounts of information with each other. Mindmaps use keywords, drawings, and even photos to improve your pupil’s ability to recall important concepts.

If concentration is a problem, do not continue with the lesson without paying attention to that, because they are likely to lose interest. Try using learning styles such as ‘ Spaced Learning ‘, where the lesson is divided into sessions, so that learning sessions of 10 minutes (where the tutor teaches pupils new information) are interspersed with physical activities of 10 minutes, such as running around or playing a game.

5. Get to know your students

Students process information in different ways. Some students are reflective. They need time to mentally process new information. Others are active and eager to learn by doing things. For example, they prefer to drive by actually stepping into a car and starting the engine, instead of spending time browsing manuals. Reflective pupils prefer the opposite.

Understanding how your student learns best can be very helpful to finding the best way to guide them. You can work with them to improve their learning style. Why don’t you ask the student to fill in the Kolb Learning styles test? It doesn’t take long and it helps you understand which teaching method works best for the learner. Create a curriculum as soon as you have identified the problem areas, you can draw up a detailed lesson plan. The lesson plan is what you want to handle and how much time you need to handle each topic. Give a copy to the student, so they too know at what rate they need to learn important topics. This helps to manage expectations reminding them that Rome was not built in a day.

6. Make it interesting and fun

Nobody wants tutoring sessions to be boring. If you are teaching a course such as history, try to make the lesson material more enjoyable by introducing funny facts about the historical figures that are not in the textbook. The sharing of facts and interesting anecdotes can help to really make important historical figures and events, so that the subject is more alive and the pupil remembers the teaching material better.

7. Give them homework

It’s never too early to encourage students to prepare for the next session!

From the very first tutoring session, give your student homework that is a combination of previously learned material and an introduction to the next topic. Whenever possible, try to make the homework as practical and engaging as possible. Don’t lean completely on textbook and writing exercises. For example, do you also think about interviews, movie reviews and internet searches?

8. Schedule the next lesson

If the lesson has gone well and the pupil is happy, plan the next lesson in advance. Keep the day, time and location the same to make it easier to remember.

It is not uncommon to invoice the pupil in advance for lessons, so don’t forget to let him/ her or the parents know how much the lessons will cost and share your bank details so they can pay you directly.

What to do and not to do when tutoring

As a bonus below you’ll find a few more short tips to help you with your tutoring sessions.

What to do

  • Use simple language. Remember that there is a difference between understanding a subject and teaching.
  • Be well prepared for the lesson. You often receive a fee for your preparation time. Use that time well! Master the teaching material and pre-work for the assignments.
  • Be honest. It’s not bad if you don’t know the answer to a question yet. Just make sure you have found the answer to the question for the next tutoring session.
  • Stay positive. Maintain a positive attitude towards your pupil.
  • Ask one question at a time. This way you avoid ambiguity and create focus.
  • Use “Waiting Time”. Give the pupil time to think about an answer.
  • Check if you are understood. Ask the pupil to repeat the explanations in his/her own words to see if they understand it.
  • Train on study skills. Train your pupils in the use of study skills.
  • Be open to feedback. Ask for feedback on how easy a problem or concept is to understand and your teaching method.
  • Note Body language. Note the body language of your students.
  • Be patient. The fact that something is clear to you and easy to do, does not automatically mean that this also applies to your student. Teach yourself not to show any annoyance in your speech or body language.
  • Be relaxed. It helps people to make them at ease.

What not to do

  • Don’t make homework that was assigned to your students.
  • Do not put your pupils under pressure.
  • Avoid asking closed “yes” and “no” questions. Instead of a closed question like “Do you understand what photosynthesis is?” Ask an open question such as “explain the process of photosynthesis”.
  • Never behave in a condescending manner towards your pupils.

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