Tips From a Private Irvine Academic Tutor: 4 Ways to Make Your Tutoring Session More Approachable

Many students struggle with the specific structure of a classroom environment. Their chairs are often in rows, and there are four white walls with one dry erase board to look at. This may work very well for some students but will be stifling for others. If students have to come home and work in the same fashion with their tutor, it can be difficult for the child to concentrate. However, there’s no specific rule regarding how a tutoring session must be run or what materials the tutor and student use. Because the sessions are generally one-on-one, it’s possible to create a situation that works for any specific student.


1. Young kids need to move

Kids in elementary school can’t sit all day and then sit all afternoon; they have to move around and engage physically. If it’s comfortable to sit on the floor or in a bean bag chair, there’s no reason why the session can’t be run this way. Some younger children can concentrate better if they are not confined by a desk and chair; they could use a clipboard or lap desk instead. Students using technology to complete their homework could use an iPad instead of a desktop. It’s important to see what works for both the student and educator so this session can be successful but still allow the student to move about (READ: “Online Research: What’s Legit?”).

2. Students need breaks

Older students may be just as happy to sit on a chair at a desk but they may need to take breaks throughout the session. This is especially true when it comes to long (2 or more hours) study sessions that take place before midterms and finals. It’s a good idea for the tutor to speak with the student or parent to determine how long the student can concentrate before needing to take a break. If a student tries to trudge through the session without a planned break they may start to zone out during crucial information. Rather, it’s a good idea to schedule session breaks ahead of time when the the tutor has come to a good stopping point when presenting information. Students who take breaks in the middle of an important concept will often forget what has been said and have to start over.

3. Have a warm up session with a new tutor

Younger kids, especially, may feel awkward having a new person in their home. They may or may not understand why they are receiving help and they may or may not be happy about it. If possible, it’s a good idea to have the tutor spend 10 or 15 minutes with the student before getting into academic material just to talk with them and ask about their day. Additionally, parents may be able to arrange for an introductory session where the tutor comes over and chats with the student for a little bit and asks them a few questions about school and after school activities. When it comes time for serious academic instruction, students will usually respond better to an adult they have developed a good rapport with (READ: “4 Reasons Students Don’t Adjust Well to an AP Class”).

4. Make technology personable

There are several ways that tutors, parents, and students (if they are old enough) can work together to make technology work in their favor. If the student and tutor will be working together over a remote technology platform, it’s a good idea to get a few things out of the way before the session starts. The student and teacher should both check that their internet connection is adequate and test out different platforms. Some students will use Skype, Google Hangouts, or FaceTime while others will use a company sponsored platform. Either way it’s a good idea to test out the technology before due dates come up. Additionally, it’s smart for parents to sit down with their child and figure out how they can configure a virtual classroom that will help engage them. Younger children may need to see their tutor on a separate screen while older students may be satisfied with a small image in the corner of their laptop.

Our experienced private Irvine, Orange County, and San Diego tutors know how to make the most out of every tutoring session. Don’t hesitate to book your tutor before finals.

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