Developing Individualized Tutoring–Tips for Parents

This is post #5 in the series “How to Be a Great Parent-Tutor.”

Individualised learning, tailored to the needs of a particular child, with one-to-one attention from the parent, is one of the real advantages of parent-tutoring.  Here are some examples of how you can individualise your child’s learning:

  • Some children learn better in a quiet, one-on-one or small group situation. Use this understanding to provide your child with an optimal learning environment in your home.
  • Others have learning styles that are less frequently available in the classroom situation.  At home, a very active child can practice saying times tables while jumping on the trampoline; a musical child can sing her times tables; an artistic child can draw pictures to help her remember them. A classroom teacher, on the other hand, can’t easily have each child “doing her own thing” at the same time.
  • Some children have medical or emotional issues, or are facing other difficult situations.  You can take time out from the tutoring time to have personal talks, or take a break, or have a snack, or stretch, or whatever will help the child at that moment.
  • A parent-tutor can ensure that mastery occurs at each step of learning a subject. But in a busy classroom with many students, a teacher may not realize that a particular student has missed an important basic concept along the way.
  • A parent-tutor can take part with the child’s learning team, preparing a individualized learning plan (IEP), based on input from the child, the teacher, parents, and any assessments done by specialists.  You can study and follow this plan, and you can also refer to the learning outcomes in the educational system the child is enrolled in.  You are a valuable member of the team as you know so well the special life needs and situations of your child.
  • Helping one-to-one, a parent-tutor can take the time to fine-tune learning goals, and can adjust lesson plans as the exact needs of the individual student become apparent. It is quite amazing how one simple concept that has been missed earlier in a child’s learning can have a huge cascading effect on future learning.
  • Thus, several sessions can be taken to focus on, and achieve mastery of, a particular concept that is difficult for the student; and yet another concept that is well understood can be very quickly reviewed and the student can move on instead of having to wait for the rest of the class to “get it.”
  • A parent tutor can take the time to insert lessons on study skills and techniques exactly when they are needed by the student, and in conjunction with the topic at hand.
  • And a parent has much more opportunity to do practical, real-life learning activities with the child than a teacher in a classroom does.
  • If you aren’t sure what exactly the child knows, start with “easy level” questions, and work through to more difficult ones. Carefully observe to discover where there may be gaps in learning. If doing a homework assignment from school, have the child explain each step to you; often you will notice where a problem exists along the way. Stop and work out that problem before continuing.
  • Listen to your child‘s responses, watch the child’s body language, listen for stress in the child’s voice, and so on. Pay close attention and you can often pick up on exactly at what point the child is having difficulty.
  • Engage the child in discussions that require more than a simple “yes” or “no” answer. If the child gets too stressed, take a break, or try a different approach.
  • Use “hands-on” and “real-life” activities to help the child understand the purpose of a new concept. Learning is not just a bunch of facts to memorize; it involves many underlying skills, and participation in practical activities is a great way to bring the learning together.
  • Avoid yelling at the child, or punishing: the goal is to develop a love of learning, and a good parent-child relationship. If you, the parent tutor, are getting stressed, this is also a good time to take a break.
  • Start sessions at a level at which the child is comfortable and successful. Then work up through more difficult levels, helping the child build self-confidence and motivation.
  • If you as the parent are not sure how to do something, admit it, and find a way to learn how to do itself so you can help the child. The child will see your love of learning. Sometimes, the child can teach you something you’ve forgotten or haven’t learned–children love this! Encourage your child to share their knowledge and skills with you and others.
  • Good tutoring sessions involve the child as much as possible in planning and the learning and application.  True education is learning – and learning is behavior, that is, ACTION, on the part of the learner.  The more the student is involved in the learning activity, with the parent/tutor there as more of a guide or facilitator or mentor (rather than a teacher/lecturer), the more likely the student’s motivation and interest in the subject will increase, and the more he/she will learn, and be able to apply that learning.
  • Use creative and imaginative methods, motivating and involving the student.  Encourage the student to use his or her own personal interests and passions, creativity, imagination, reasoning, and other intellectual powers, to become a life-long self-learner, and teacher of others.  This is always the ultimate goal of true education.
  • The tutoring sessions should almost always involve a variety of learning activities.  A lesson on arithmetic, for example, will not just include the parent/tutor “teaching” a concept from a textbook, and the child practicing it on a worksheet.  In addition, the child might use “hands-on” learning tools, like counting real objects, using numbers on a ruler to add or subtract, finger-count, or create a lego item using geometry.  The lesson might also include a card game or a game like snakes-and-ladders that involves using numbers; and finish up with real activities in the child’s life that involve arithmetic (shopping, baking, and so on).
  • If the child is becoming fidgety or stressed out, the parent/tutor may call a time-out, in which the student can get a drink, take a short walk, play an active game, chat about any topic of the student’s choice, or simply sit back and relax.  Five minutes of “brain break” and “body activity” will ensure that the child will learn twice as much in the next portion of learning time!
  • Other aspects of individualized tutoring sessions include giving supportive and constructive feedback, encouraging a deeper understanding of the subject, correcting misunderstandings from previous learning, practice of weaker skills, and lighter moments of laughter and fun.
  • At the end of a session, ask children what they learned in this lesson, if and why they think it is important to them, any questions they still have or things they still don’t understand, and anything they’d like to focus on in upcoming sessions. Make children feel that this is “their” personal learning. Give the child as much “ownership” of the learning as possible.
  1. Why children need parent-tutors
  2. Important activities parent-tutors can do well
  3. Building a Good Parent-Tutor and Child Relationship
  4. Learning Styles, Intelligences, and Behaviours
  5. Developing Individualised Tutoring–Tips for Parents
  6. Monitoring Your Child’s Progress
  7. Some Basic Learning Goals
  8. Home Tutoring Resources
  9. Suggestions for a Tutoring Session at Home
  10. Specific Suggestions for Primary Grades
  11. Specific Considerations for Intermediate Grades
  12. When to Consider Hiring a Tutor
  13. Costs of Tutors and Alternatives
  14. All Kinds of Learning Activities

Questions and Responses: Which of these tips would work well with your child/children? Do you have other tips on how to “individualise” tutor time with children? Please share your thoughts in the comments. Thank you!

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This entry was posted in family learning, home learning, homeschooling, homework tips, learning styles, learning tips, life-long learning, parent-tutoring, passions and interests. Bookmark the permalink.

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