So, you've finally found the perfect tutor to work with your child. Congratulations! This is one of the first steps in the wonderful journey that is your child's education.
Maybe your child is a little behind. Maybe you've chosen home school and you need extra help. Maybe you're asking your child to learn an entirely new subject. Or, maybe you don't have as much experience with the subject matter as you'd like.
Whatever the case, follow these 5 tips to make sure that you're getting the most bang for your buck whenever it's tutoring time!
Tip #1: Stay ready so you don't have to get ready
I cannot tell you how many times I have arrived at a tutoring session, only to spend the first five minutes watching my student track down a pencil. Whether the session was 30 minutes, an hour, or an hour and a half, time looking for materials is time wasted. For the tutor herself, this may not be a big deal. (Hey, we're still getting paid!) However, for the student (and for you, the parent/purse), those extra five minutes could be spent going over one more example problem. Get the most out of your time by ensuring that the work space is equipped with all of the necessary materials.
Tip #2: Keep your priorities in line
While it's important to trust your tutor's plans, skill and intuition, it's also important to set expectations for your child's completed work. Do this by setting a schedule of priorities with your tutor. Let's imagine that your child needs general homework help in addition to extra practice in algebra and writing. Be sure to let your tutor know which of these tasks is most important. Depending on how long each session lasts, you may not have time for all three subjects. In this scenario, it would be wise to prioritize homework help first, as that's the most time-sensitive. Leftover time can be dedicated to one or both of the additional subjects. You might even consider blocked scheduling, where the post-homework focus is algebra the first session and writing the next.
By putting first things first, you ensure that your child is getting the help he needs, when he needs it.
Tip #3: Don't hover
There is nothing quite as uncomfortable as a hovering parent, especially at the beginning of a tutoring partnership. In the beginning, you need to give your child some time to get to to know his or her tutor, and for the tutor to get to know your child. The best learning happens when the student feels a genuine connection with the teacher. In my experience, a little bit of space from authority figures is necessary for this genuine connection to form. When I begin with a new client, I like to spend the first 10 minutes or so getting to know my new student. I may ask questions about their favorite sports teams, what they like about school, why they need help, and their hobbies. For many school-aged children, and especially the shy ones, this conversation may open up a bit more if parents aren't listening. We all remember being kids - when Mom or Dad was around, we acted a little differently than we did with friends or other adults.
In addition, it's important to recognize that most children love to please their parents, particularly when it comes to academic achievement. If, for example, little Sierra doesn't like reading, this is something important that the tutor should know. However, Sierra may not feel comfortable saying this in front of Mom or Dad or fear of disappointing them.
Even if the tutoring relationship is ongoing, it's best to give them a bit of space. This isn't to say that you should never enter the room during the session - go ahead and wash the dishes if you need to! However, by no means should you be sitting at the table with them during the lesson.
But wait, how will I know what they're doing if I can't listen and watch?
Tip #4: Touch base after each session
Aside from sitting in on the session, the best way to find out what went down is to debrief with the tutor afterwards. This means that you should have a short meeting (3-5 minutes) about what exactly the tutor and your child worked on that day. Feel free to ask for deliverables, or hard copies of the work. This would be the time to ask questions like:
Tip #5: Ask for extra resources
After any tutoring session, feel free to ask your tutor if they can suggest any extra practice that your child can do independently. There is a sea of resources out there, and your tutor may know how to navigate them better than you do! These resources can be exchanged via e-mail or in person. You can never have too much extra practice!
If you use these tips, let me know how they work for you! Thanks for reading, and good luck on your knowledge quest!