How to Tutor Students So They Don’t Feel Like It’s School

Fall 2022 in National Tutoring Association Magazine, The Tree

By Cynthia Levy, “Advanced Tutor”

Are your elementary students after their school day:

  • Tired?
  • Hungry?
  • Just want to eat a snack?
  • Want to play a video game?
  • Don’t want to do more school?

To sum it up, are they struggling to refocus on their school work and let you start tutoring them? At times, my students have felt this way too.

Here are some strategies that I’ve learned that help elementary school students refocus so they can get started with their tutoring.

Plan and Over Plan – Your Elementary School Tutoring Approach

In a perfect world, when you arrive at a person’s house to work with your student, they have their materials ready and they know what they need to work on. In my experience that is often not the case. Here are a few ideas that have worked for me:

Have an Elementary School Tutoring Gimmick

I don’t mean gimmick in the sense of “trick the student.” Students are often bored and tired. If you want to get their attention and connect more with the student, you have to be able to do something a little different than all the other tutors out there. Come up with something that is unique to you and your student will appreciate it.

Elementary School Kids are Visual Learners

Some tutors use music or art. Others use board games. I like to use American Sign Language because it focuses on one of the most common learning styles: Visual Learning

You can use ASL to help teach so many subjects. Some uses that I find for it are with spelling and learning basic math facts.

First, I show the student what the sign is. (Let’s use the word “yes” as an example)

Here is what “yes” looks like:

then I have the student show the sign back to me.

Now I ask my student to verbalize what “yes” actually means and have them write out the meaning of “yes” too.

When students are having difficulty mastering their basic spelling or math concepts, I’ve found that using ASL really helps them stay motivated.