Are You Making The Most Of Your Tutoring?

By Cindy Chanin On December 1, 2013

Whether your student is gearing up for his/her first session with an algebra tutor, or in the middle of an intensive college application season, you’ll want to be sure that no educational minute is wasted. Students miss precious opportunities for learning and growth by spending valuable session time on logistics and preparations that they could have addressed beforehand – all while the tutor is present and waiting.

Below, we’ll show you the five biggest mistakes that students make during their sessions and what can be done to ensure that these factors do not undermine productivity and stellar outcomes!

1. Computer and Wi-Fi Working and Ready Prior to the Session
Fussing over Wi-Fi connections, online documents, or email access can be a huge waste of time, and most of these situations can be avoided with preparation before instruction commences. Try setting aside 10-20 minutes with your student before your tutor arrives to make sure all the necessary digital materials such as word documents, YouTube videos, or class websites are pulled up, loaded, and ready to go (don’t forget to wrangle all the books and hard-copy materials needed as well). Wi-Fi passwords written down on a note waiting for the tutor when she arrives can expedite the process of getting online. Additionally, when working on typed assignments (e.g., papers, current events, outlines), uploading and sharing the document with your tutor via google drive, or simply emailing it to him/her, can help the writing process get off to a much smoother start.

2. Schedule Parent-Tutor Conversations for the End of the Session
It’s perfectly natural and encouraged to want to spend time talking with your student’s tutor. However, parent-tutor conversations during a session will take away from the time spent helping your student. While we encourage our educators to spend the last 5-10 minutes of a session debriefing the parent, an issue that requires serious attention should be set aside for a more appropriate time. It is crucial that a parent let the tutor know of any major life changes, schooling adjustments, or pressing issues facing a child, but the tutoring session is not the time to talk about them at length. Be sure to reserve a time to speak with your tutor outside of session time so that your student gets the most out of his/her experience.

3. Provide School Assignment Information to your Tutor ahead of time and have it on-hand for the session
Oftentimes students have very specific goals for a tutoring session. If there is a research paper due the next day, a final exam approaching, or a creative class project, make sure your tutor has as much information as possible, as early as possible. While tutors are an invaluable wealth of information, they are humans, just like the rest of us. Giving them time and information to prepare a strategy for tackling an assignment, and refresh their knowledge about specific content will certainly make the difference. Try sending your tutor the actual assignment handout from your teacher, sharing a rough draft of what your student has already started, or letting him/her know the general topics being covered in the exam (if you’re unsure, chapter headings and subheadings are a big clue) The more information you’re able to give your tutor, the better he or she will be able to help your student, and the quicker the work can commence.

4. Anticipate Snack Time – Brains Need Fuel
If your session will go longer than an hour, or is close to dinner time, be sure to have some snacks on hand for your student. Hunger can be a giant distraction for learning, and a grumbling stomach can almost guarantee a loss of focus. However, getting up to grab a refreshment can easily turn into a 5 minute fridge raid, wasting precious tutoring time. Be prepared by anticipating your student’s needs. Leave healthy, energy-boosting snacks and water close to your students’ workspace to avoid any time wasted on asking for, or preparing, food. We’ll do another blog post soon on the best way to provide brain fuel for your student, but for now here is a good guide.

5. Create a Good Learning Space Free of Pesky Distractions
This one is almost a no-brainer, but reserving a quiet and secluded space for your student and her tutor is one of the most important steps in preparing. Pets, siblings, unnecessary tech devices, and household clamour are big distractions that can suck major time away from a session. If the kitchen table is the only viable option, be sure to relegate distractors to the opposite end of the house. Also, if you know that your student has a hard time focusing on his or her computer without clicking through to a chat window or social network, consider installing a tool such as the Self Control App on his or her laptop. Apps like this block access to distracting websites for set periods of time, allowing you to be sure that no Facebooking gets in the way of your student’s learning.

Now that you’ve heard from us, what are some of the most effective (or ineffective) ways you prepare for your tutoring sessions? Leave a comment below, tweet us, or join the conversation on our Parent Facebook Group.