Tips and tricks for a successful on-line learning session – from an experienced tutor!

Written by A Guest Blogger

Hi I’m Phoebe Cotes, I’ve been tutoring maths on-line for the past two years (here I am talking to Coco, above, in a Virtual Student Nanny maths session!) so I’ve picked up a few tips and tricks along the way. Here’s my guide to having a successful study-buddy session….

1) Prep – make sure that you chat or exchange emails with the parent ahead of the session so you know what they want you to work through. Ask them to email you the resources so can be looking at the same exercises as the child and can help them as they go. If the work is on an on-line portal, parents can share their screen (Google Hangouts, Skype and Zoom all offer this feature) with the study-buddy so they can see what problems the child is answering.

2) Ask parents if they want to be in the room during the session or if they want to make the most of an hour with no interruptions. Either are fine. Ask the parents what their main goal is for the sessions – to build confidence? To crack the 12x table? To complete 5 pages of Twinkl resources? This will give you a good idea of how to run  your sessions.

2) Start with a game to get children involved and interested straight away. This is really important as if you don’t engage them at the beginning, you will struggle to get them to focus. If you sense the child losing interest as the session progresses, switch back into a game to get them quickly back on track.

3) Start basic before moving on to more challenging stuff. This will allow the child to feel proud and motivated at the beginning – they are then more likely to tackle the harder stuff later on in the session if their confidence is high.

3) Make it a competition. Most kids are very competitive so this is a great way to get them excited and interested! This worked really well with Gabriel, 6, below. You can do this by timing them, asking them to race against you or their siblings.

4) If the child is struggling with an answer, take it back to basics and walk them through the problem again explaining in very simple language how to approach it. Say, ‘Let’s look at it together…’

5) Keep the session positive. Say ‘Almost right!’ or  ‘Try doing it this way..,’ rather than ‘No that’s wrong’. Using language such as, ‘This is a really hard problem, are you up for it?!’ is another trick I use as you’re suggesting they are going above and beyond and they want to rise to the challenge.

6) Give the child repeated praise throughout the session as it builds confidence and they will come away feeling good about themselves and what they have achieved.

7) After the session send parents a brief email update letting them know what you covered in the session and what the child did really well at. It’s great if they can praise them for their efforts too then you’ll have a happy enthusiastic child at your next session!

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