When you have a love for helping children and some knowledge of pedagogy and teaching, your skills can be applied even beyond the classroom. If you’re looking for part-time work or a more flexible schedule, consider tutoring kids. Here’s how to get started.
Finding Work as a Tutor
When you’re just starting out, you might find work at larger tutoring firms that already have a wide network of potential clients. The other option is to start your own enterprise. Spread the word to your network of family, friends and former colleagues, letting them know the subjects you specialize in and what credentials you bring to the table. When you establish a relationship with a child and the child’s family, ask the adults to share their experiences and to recommend you to others. You might also put up ads in coffee shops, libraries or kids’ stores -- any place where kids and their parents tend to congregate. Over time, these methods of advertising can help you grow a successful business.
Working with Primary School Children
As you’re probably aware, teaching primary school kids is quite different to teaching high school or college-age students. In general, primary school kids will need more variation in their activities, more brain breaks, and may need to be reminded to stay on task more often. That said, if you find that your charges are fidgeting or having trouble staying on task, it may be time to mix up your methods and to cut down on the amount of time you expect them to do certain tasks.
Here are some other things to keep in mind:
Establish good communication with the child’s parents -- and teachers too
As you start a new relationship with a child, have a meeting with the child’s parents to find out what subjects you’re to focus on, as well as any particular aspects of that subject the child needs help in. You may be hired to be a math tutor, for example, but you’ll need to find out whether the child is struggling with addition, subtraction, multiplication, counting by tens or other particular elements.
When possible, also establish contact with the child’s teacher and get specific recommendations about what you should focus on, as well as the teacher’s observations of the child’s learning style. If the child is more of a kinesthetic learner versus an auditory or visual one, for example, you’ll be able to design programming that’s more focused on tasks that involve movement.
Stick to a routine
Younger kids tend to crave sameness and routine, so your tutoring sessions can benefit from having a similar routine from session to session. For example, you might always start with a fun primer activity and end with watching a short video that pertains to the next lesson.
Mix up the learning modalities
As mentioned, different kids learn in different ways, so teaching to a child’s particular learning style can be helpful. Still, try to mix up your learning modalities so you’re covering a little of all the learning styles. This keeps your sessions dynamic and can help the child learn to learn in new ways.
Keep track of progress and report to the adults
To ensure the child’s parents and teachers understand the value of your work, set up a system to track the child’s progress. For reading, you might count the number of words a child can read per minute from one quarter to the next, or for math, you might show the adults the results of quick mini-quizzes you administered, comparing the results from earlier sessions to those in later sessions. This can also be a helpful tool for yourself, helping you see where you’re succeeding and where you may need to change up your methods.
As with anything you do with kids, there’s also one last piece of advice that tends to apply at all times: be patient and positive!
Image courtesy udeyismail, Flickr