4 Ways to Make Tutoring More Fun

Why do kids need tutoring?

Some are behind on content and they need to be caught up.  Others already understand the material and need to be pushed more.  And then there are always students who need specific work on individual concepts.

At the end of the day, most parents can find a reason for why their child need tutoring.  Personally, it was always tough teaching 6+ hours during the day and then working with students after school in the same fashion that I had been teaching for another hour or more, so I sought out ways to make it different.  There are a number of ways that you can liven up tutoring so that you take advantage of having a student’s individual attention.  What follows is a series of things I’ve used over the years to make tutoring more bearable on me (and the student).

1) Different locations: When given the opportunity, I liked doing my tutoring sessions somewhere other than my classroom or the child’s house.  The library, fast food restaurants, parks, and bookstores are all places I have tutored.  Going somewhere different allows you to enjoy the scenery that you are not accustomed to, and can sometimes provide means for adding to the tutoring, like eating while you learn.

One of my favorite tutoring sessions with the RCA 2015 class (and parents) at Atlantic Station

2) Make it relevant: If the child did not understand fractions the first time in class with the way you taught it, why would you teach it the same way when you’re one-on-one?  Find what the child is interested in and use that as the basis for teaching the concept.  For example, if the child is interested in sports, teach fractions by going to a football field and use the hash marks to count by tenths.  When I worked with my next door neighbor’s daughter on fractions, we used the kitchen as our setting so we could pretend to cook things and measure out ingredients.

3) Have them teach you: One of the worst things you can ask a child is “do you understand?”  While some children will say “no,” many will say “yes” to either appease you or move on.  A better request is “you’re turn to teach this to me.”  By asking the child to teach you or explain a concept, you are asking them to prove that they understand the material.  It’s also a wonderful higher order thinking activity.  This will give you a chance to identify misunderstandings or holes in the learning.  

4) Take breaks: Tutoring for an hour can play out like a marathon at times.  When teaching thirty students, much time is spent focusing on a variety of students, but when it is just you and one student, that’s a lot of consecutive time to spend on one person.  To give your brain and their brain a break, take a five minute break.  Depending where you are, you can have a snack, run around a bit, or play a game.  One student I used to tutor loved basketball, so every 20 or so minutes we would play a round of H-O-R-S-E to take a break. 

And as a final reminder, please always be a cheerleader for your students.  Be positive when working with them.  Sometimes they just need to hear “you’ve got this,” “I’m really proud of you,” or “great job” to give that final push that you need from them. 

Thank you for all of the support with Inside the Trenches.  If you haven’t gotten your copy yet, you can find it on Amazon.

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