Are you thinking of becoming a private tutor?  Maybe you can speak multiple languages, you've got  PhD in biology, or you're a gifted writer, then you'll need to have good knowledge of the school curriculum in your province or region, depending on the student's level.

To make sure that your students are getting the most out of their tutoring lessons, you'll need to make sure that you are using the right learning resources to help your students succeed. Planning is absolutely essential in making sure that you are achieving the correct learning outcomes for your student.

So how do you successfully plan private tutoring lessons? 

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What are the qualities I need to be a great tutor?

It's no surprise that if you want to be a good teacher, you need to have an outstanding knowledge of your subject as well as the curriculum that your students are following. However, an excellent knowledge of your subject is only the bare minimum...


How do you find students for private tutorials?
Always be friendly and presentable when meeting your students and their parents (Source: rawpixel)

It's important for you to bear in mind the reason that your students are seeking help from a private tutor. While some students are struggling with certain classes and need additional help to keep up with their classes, some students may not actually be challenged enough and wish to explore the subject further outside of the context of the classroom. Some students may need help preparing for high school exams or university entrance exams.

It's important for you to adapt your lessons in order to meet your students' individual needs. This entails having the right resources at your fingertips to help your students master the material they are learning. Make sure that the resources are tailored to your student's individual learning styles. For example, some students may be more visual learners and require visual aids such as diagrams and maps, while others may learn better when explained a subject orally or through a discussion. You should always take the time to get to know your students and get to know what methodology works best for them.

You should always present yourself in the most professional and approachable way possible. That means that you should always be punctual for your lessons and meetings, and maintain a neat and tidy appearance, always coming to lessons well dressed and washed. It's essential to leave a good impression for both your students and their parents. Remember that if you make a good impression, your students may even recommend you to their network, offering you even more tutoring opportunities!

During your first tutoring session, you should ask your student to provide an outline of their school curriculum and subject matter so you know what topics you'll need to cover during your tutoring sessions. Always be sure to be familiar with what’s on the curriculum, as this will allow you to prepare in advance for your future lessons.

Whatever subject you are teaching, it's your job to help bridge the gap between what the student is learning in class and what the student is struggling with. You'll need to discuss with your student to find out which areas they may find difficult and need a little extra support with and adapt your lessons accordingly.

By employing a suitable teaching methodology, you'll be able to help your student to overcome their learning difficulties and see real progress in their subject. You'll need to tailor your lesson plans to help your student meet their learning outcomes and cover the content that they'll need to exceed in their classes.

You'll be able to tailor your teaching to your student's needs. As a tutor, this means that you will have to:

  • Explain content in a clear and effective way
  • Be flexible in your teaching approaches and methodology
  • Adapt your teaching methodology to suit your student's learning style
  • Be patient and understanding of your student's needs
  • Be dedicated to helping your student succeed
  • Be a good listener
  • Be an excellent communicator
  • Stay organised: plan your lessons in advance
  • Set achievable goals for your student
  • Encourage your students remember that your goal is to keep your student motivated
  • Ensure your personal schedule is congruent with the student's needs

As a tutor, you'll need to be patient and understanding of your student's needs. Think back to when you we were a student and struggling with a  certain subject. Remember that they were probably just as frustrated as were when unable to comprehend a concept, and just needed a little patience and support.

If a student is stuck on a concept or just simply can't wrap their head around a particular math problem, then you may need to modify your approach. If your student is getting frustrated, ask them to take a step back and try to examine the problem from a new angle or explain the concept in a way that may be relevant for your student. Don't be afraid to change things up! Remain flexible in your lesson plans and always adapt your teaching to suit your student's needs. 

Excellent communication skills are absolutely essential to be a successful tutor. Make sure to adapt your communication to ensure that your students understand the concepts as clearly as possible. For example, you wouldn't explain a math concept in the same way to a ten year old as you would to an advanced university student. Always remember to communicate as clearly as possible and ask your students to repeat what you've explained in their own words to make sure that they understand the concepts. Its important to regularly ask your student for feedback to make sure that they understand the concepts you are teaching.

Lastly, as a private tutor, you'll need to make sure that you are readily available and fully committed to teaching your student. If you anticipate that you'll be too busy or have to many personal or professional engagements, such as your own exams or professional engagements, it's probably best not to take on a new tutoring job. It's important to discuss with your student and their family before agreeing to regular tutoring sessions. For example, you should be clear about how many times per week and what days you are available, as well as your availability during vacations and school holidays in order to plan ahead and set reasonable expectations for both parties. Try to give plenty of notice if you are expecting to take a holiday or when you know that you won't be available during a certain amount of time to teach. Be courteous to your students, just as you would to any employer.

Aside from all of these essential qualities, including excellent communication and knowledge of your subject, what tangible resources should you use when planning tutoring lessons?

Excellent teaching resources for private tutors

Now that we've gone through the personal qualities you'll need as a private tutor, you'll need to think about the kind of tangible resources that you'll need to prepare for your classes.

The most basic resources you'll need for tutoring lessons should include textbooks, notebooks, papers, review sheets, and possibly digital applications or interactive devices. For your first tutoring session, you may want to prepare a test to evaluate the level of your student beforehand. A short assessment test will allow you to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses and to then plan your lessons accordingly.

Where can you get science resources for private tutorials?
Graphs and visual resources are a great way to reinforce learning material. (Source: 6689062)

When preparing for your lessons, you'll need to go through your textbooks and exercises to work on with your students in advance. When preparing exercises, always have the solutions prepared in advance so that you're ready for your lesson.

How you conduct your lessons depends on the subject you are teaching, as well as the age and level of the student. While high school and university students may be able to dive right in with practicing exercises and exam technique, younger students may require more interactive and engaging lessons. Look up fun and interactive education games on the internet and don't be afraid to use digital content such as apps and learning websites to incorporate into your lessons.

It's also important to check up with your student regularly to see how their classes are going. Do they feel that your tutoring lessons are helping them catch up with classes? Are there certain areas that they are struggling with and would like to go over? Are there other concepts that would like to explore further? It's your job to spark your students interest and incite their love for learning!

Here is a list of helpful materials to help you plan your lessons and keep them interesting for your students:

  • A lesson plan
  • Summary sheets to review key concepts
  • Practice exercises with follow-up solutions
  • Learning documents with visuals (diagrams, summary tables, graphs etc)
  • Word clouds or brainstorm ideas with your student
  • Regular evaluations to assess the student's progress
  • Digital apps and websites for education
Which are the best digital teaching resources?
Don't be afraid to use digital resources to help your student learn (Source: StartupStockPhotos)

When it comes to private tutoring sessions, you'll never know what to expect so always make sure  to plan your lessons.

Interactive teaching techniques

Every good tutor should be aware of their students' individual learning needs. 

Innovative teaching methods

One interesting and well-known technique to help students learn is the Montessori Method of education.

The Montessori method is based on the principle that students learn at their own pace.

What games can you play in private tutorials?
Games are a great way for children (and adults) to learn!  (Source: Thaliesin)

Children should be given some freedom to choose the activities that interest them the most. The Montessori approach gives children the freedom to learn at the pace which is most suitable for them, and allowing them to explore and to experience new things as individuals or in small groups.

The method also incorporates physical objects and games to encourage learning. As a private tutor, it could be interesting to do some research on the Montessori method and even to consider incorporating some of their methods and ideas into your private tutoring sessions.

You may also consider what the best location for private lessons is.It's up to you and your student to work out the best location for your lessons.

Resources for online tutoring sessions

If you are tutoring online, there are a number of great resources to help you teach new content to your students. Now it's even possible to use video games during your tutoring sessions! 

Interactive online games can help your student learn new content in a fun and engaging way. They'll have so much fun they won't even realise that they are learning at the same time!

Explore the internet and see what kind of apps and website would be best for your student and to supplement your lessons. Check out learning platforms like Khan academy and MOOCs for great content to help you plan your lessons. The internet has thousands of resources that you'll be able to use! You'll even find great content that is absolutely free!

Preparing fun and interactive digital content for your students is sure to keep them interested and motivated during  your tutoring lessons.

So now that you're equipped with all of the teaching resources you'll need for successful tutoring lessons, you may want to consider more great ideas to personalise your tutoring sessions.


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Yvette is a freelance Canadian writer living in Paris. She spends her time between Toronto and Paris and likes to travel and learn. She's the proud mom of two strong minded women and enjoys her free time giving back to her communities.