The first moments for any new tutoring assignment can be a nervy affair, for both parent and tutor, and more importantly the tutee! Parents who have never had a tutor before are often understandably anxious. They are usually thinking months ahead to the dreaded exams, and sometimes these worries transfer over to the tutee and even the tutor if they aren’t careful, which can create a stressful environment not conducive to learning.
However, things needn’t be like this. So, with the benefit of my decade or so of tutoring, allow me to share some things I’ve learned; tips for parents and tutors alike to make sure that first lesson just breezes by.
Try to have some schoolwork ready in the house. This helps us tutors identify what areas your child needs help in most.
Try not to hover. Tempting as it may be, it usually gets in the way of what we’re trying to do, and more often than not puts the tutee on edge too.
Big one this… please don’t ask whether or not your child will definitely get into your school of choice – especially not after the first lesson! We understand you are anxious to be reassured, but it takes a few sessions before we can offer an accurate and honest assessment.
Have a workspace ready, some books and paper set out, and debrief your child a bit. It helps set the tone, and if done right can be seen as something special just for them, rather than a chore to endure.
And lastly, don’t be shy – offer a cup of tea! We’ve often come a long way and may be half-frozen. A cuppa is the perfect medicine for these winter chills.
Be respectful – it’s their house. Check whether you should take off your shoes, be patient and friendly and allow the parents to take the lead initially.
Greet everyone equally. It’s important for the child, however young, to know that they are an equal part of this!
Explain who you are and why you are there to the child. Be friendly, open and honest – it can be daunting and/or confusing for first time tutees especially. Tell them you are a tutor, not a teacher, and are there to help them and them only.
Have a lesson plan. This one explains itself!
Keep five or so minutes free at the end of the lesson to debrief with the parent/guardian so that they feel in the loop.
If you follow these tips, you will almost certainly have a better first session than not. Of course, nothing is guaranteed… I once tutored a young boy whose parents insisted that we have the lesson outside (despite it being freezing), and sat with us the whole time. They even chipped in and answered some of the questions I asked the boy! It takes all sorts, I suppose, but if that happens to you too make sure it isn’t snowing!
This article was written by Robert N, who went to Latymer before attaining a BA (2.1) in Philosophy followed by an MA (Merit) in Theatre & Performance and an MA (Merit) in Acting. Robert can be available for hourly tutorials as well as residential tuition having worked as a tutor in the UK, Kuala Lumpur, Moscow, Dubai, Zurich, Gstaad, St. Tropez and Delhi. He can offer subject support in English Language and Literature, Maths, Science, R.S., Philosophy, History, Geography, Theatre, Exam and Essay Technique. A trained actor, when Rob is not tutoring, you can often find him on stage in the West End!
As written by Rhys, BA Spanish + Linguistics (First) St Catherine’s College, University of Oxford. Rhys has tutored in schools and privately one to one since 2012. To request Spanish, Linguistics tuition