If you want to teach academic support, be it for maths, physics, English, French, Spanish, homework help, etc., you’re going to have to be familiar with both your student’s level and their course at school.
In recent years, the private tutorial market has grown and is now worth around £6b. Over 40% of children in London had received private tutorials.
So how do you plan academic support tutorials?
Here are some teaching resources that the experienced tutors on Superprof swear by.
Key Qualities for Private Tutors
It might seem obvious that if you want to help a student to catch up with their studies, you’re going to have to be familiar with the subject that you’re teaching. If someone hasn’t done maths in ten years, it’s possible that the student may surpass the teacher.
Some students might be failing. Others are just struggling in a few subjects and don’t want to have to resit. Some may just want to improve their grades in order to get into a good university.
It’s worthwhile mentioning that there are many reasons for getting private tutorials and the tutor will have to adapt to their students’ needs.
Whether you’re teaching a brand new student for the first time or teaching them throughout the whole academic year, you’re going to have to opt for resources that work with the student.
First and foremost, you have to make sure that you arrive on time. Tutors who regularly show up late to class will leave a bad impression on both the student and their parents.
Before an academic support tutorial, you need to take care of your physical appearance by making sure that you’re appropriately washed and dressed. While this isn't a resource, it is key to ensuring that your tutorials go well.
Academic support and private tutorials often require an in-depth knowledge of the curriculum.
So, how can you teach private tutorials if you’re not familiar with what’s on the curriculum?
Whether you’re teaching sciences (maths, physics, chemistry, biology, etc.) or the arts, you’ll need to bridge the gap between what the students are being taught in school. Another intangible resource is your teaching approach.
The right teaching approaches can unlock your potential as an educator and help your students to improve. You also need to adapt your approaches to your student’s level. Here are some of the key qualities that a good tutor should have:
- Transferring knowledge
- A range of teaching approaches
- Speaking skills
- Listening skills
If you can't transfer knowledge, you can't teach. A tutor's main goal is to make sure that a student learns something. If they leave the tutorial knowing the same or less than they did when it started, something has gone wrong. While you're never guaranteed that a student will immediately get something, a range of teaching approaches can help you to change things up when something isn't working.
This is where patience comes into play. A tutor can never get annoyed with the student for not getting something immediately. They need to remain calm so that they can continue to teach effectively.
Your speaking skills will ensure that you provide students with information as clearly as possible. The last thing you want is for a student to be confused because your delivery was poor or because you didn't explain something well. Listening to your student will also ensure that you're always aware of what's going on in class.
Finally, you need to be available to your student. While you don't have to be on call for twenty-four hours a day, your tutee should be able to contact you in the event that they have a problem. Make sure you set limits and acceptable times for your students to get in touch. The last thing you want is phonecalls at 3 a.m. because they're stressing about an exam that you know they're going to have no problem passing.
Punctuality, friendliness, and a familiarity with the national curriculum are also useful qualities, but what tangible resources do you need to teach private tutorials?
Tangible Resources for Private Tutorials
While you may have all the skills and qualities that make a good tutor, you can’t arrive at your private tutorial empty-handed.
Even for your first ever tutorial, you should probably bring a few resources to start the student off with a bit of revision: textbooks, digital resources (apps, websites), revision books and sheets. It might be worthwhile also bringing something to test their level so that you know exactly what to bring to the next tutorial.
Textbooks often have exercises for them to do. Again, you need to take the student’s age and level into account. Older students can probably work on essay skills or exam technique right from the start. They can also focus on essay structure.
A private tutor will probably include more interactive and engaging activities for younger students. There are plenty of sites with fun games and activities for a wide variety of different subjects, especially for those in primary school.
It’s important that your classes are carefully prepared according to the students level and needs. Are they catching up, a failing student, or applying to a top university and need the best grades possible?
In a way, preparing your tutorials should be like filling a toolkit with the right tools.
You’ll need resources that can help the student’s cognitive abilities:
- A course plan
- Revision sheets (especially for GCSE and A Level students)
- Documents relating to the chapter they’re studying (with diagrams, tables, texts, articles, etc.)
- Exercises (either found online or prepared by the tutor themselves)
- Analytics exercises: Who, what, where, when, why, and how?
- Brainstorming ideas with the student.
- An evaluation at the end of the session
When it comes to private tutorials, the tutor often arrives with a tonne of teaching resources since they can never be sure how the lesson is going to go.
Is the student going to be enthusiastic, tired, irritable, or relaxed?
They always need to bring backup materials, too. In some cases, a digital resource may not work and they’ll need other things to do to replace it.
Learning Through Play
How do good tutors motivate students or show their parents that their child just needed a different approach to what they were getting at school?
In order to get the most out of the student and save them from resits or failure, there’s a great teaching approach to help students learn: the Montessori Method of education.
The aim is to let the child develop at their own speed.
How do you teach them what they need to know?
Firstly, you need to let the child choose the activities they want to do. From the age of 3, the child should be able to focus on certain tasks. This teaching approach focuses on freedom and learning at one’s own pace (without judging how quickly they’re learning) and letting them experience things and understand them.
Games and physical objects are used for things like teaching addition and subtraction. The Montessori Method can be included in private tutorials because most of the activities are designed for individuals or small groups.
Naturally, you may wonder whether it is better to tutor at your home where you would have all of these resources available, or at your student's home, where s/he would feel more comfortable...
Games for Online Tutorials
Nowadays, there are plenty of resources revolutionising teaching that can be freely accessed by tutors. Online academic support is starting to replace traditional tutors. Using video games in tutorials can make learning easier as students are enjoying playing.
They can help children to learn as they can focus their attention and motivate them as they don’t even realise they’re learning because they’re having so much fun. Games and digital resources blend real tangible objectives (learning or practising) with the fun of video games. You'd be hard-pressed to find a young child that wouldn't rather play video games than study (even if they don't realise they're doing both).
Platforms like Khan Academy, one of the world's most popular MOOCs, can be used between two tutorials in order to help a student practice or revise.
There are courses for adults and children and a huge database to inspire tutors who are planning their tutorials. Furthermore, it’s free!
Preparing games for academic support tutorials is a great way to help students learn.
Don’t hesitate to take your computer, smartphone, or tablet to your private tutorials. They’re some of the best resources for helping students learn.
Now discover more ideas to personalise your tutoring sessions...