Tutoring Tips

Effective tutors meet a learner at their point of need, so while good tutoring is individualized there are some general tips we can share:

  • Don’t try to do it all: Pick the most important areas of need and work on those. Sight words and comprehension or vocabulary and fluency, for example.
  • Give it time: Reading is a complex process. Tutoring helps but takes time.
  • Have some fun: Try to keep tutoring engaging and when possible, fun. Take breaks from the routine and do a fun activity from time to time.
  • Ask for help: Teachers and educators can help. Reach out when you have questions.

Do’s & Don'ts of Reading Help

Whether for academic reading or recreational reading, here are suggestions to help students who struggle with reading.

Do:

  • Use picture prompts. If the text has pictures refer the reader back to the pictures. Say: “Look at the picture and see if that helps.” If necessary you can point to an element in the picture. 
  • Reread. Often it helps to go back and reread a section. Say: “Let’s go back to the here [point to the beginning of the sentence] and reread. See if that makes sense.” For older learners, you may direct them to silently reread a portion of the passage.
  • Use context prompt. Point out context clues. Sometimes difficult words are explained in a sentence. Try not to give the answer but help the student find it.
  • Read on.  When a student misses a word it is not always necessary to “get it.” Proficient readers skip hard words and move on. Say: “Trying reading ahead and seeing if you can skip that word and still understand.” After the student reads ahead, ask, “Does that make sense? Tell me what this is about (retelling).”
  • Make a comparison. Have students compare a word or idea from a reading to something they know. Ask: “What does that make you think of?” or “Does that remind you of anything?”
  • Use structural prompt. Help a student break a word apart into shorter words and see if these shorter parts can provide clues for the meaning of the original word.
  • Find a helpful resource.  As a last resort, find a reference book that might help such as a thesaurus, dictionary, atlas, textbook, or encyclopedia.

 

Don't:

  • Correct every mistake. Struggling readers are often corrected. Allow students to read to the end of a sentence or passage. If you see some significant mistakes, say, “Let’s go back and reread.” Also, when students miss a key word, go back and say, “What is that word? Does that make sense?” Remember, the goal of reading is not that it is perfect but that it makes sense to the reader.
  • Get frustrated. You are there to help. It’s okay to move on or move to another format for reading such as partner reading or choral reading. Also, try a strategy like Say Something.

 

Homework Help Tips

Before you begin:

Make sure the learners know and understand the directions

  • Ask if they understand the directions.  If they say yes, move on.
  • If they say no, ask them to read the directions to you and clarify any confusing points

Working Together:

  • Ask if the learners have seen work like this before
  • If yes, ask them to explain the context of the previous work
  • Ask them to tell you what is similar and what is different
  • Try to determine what is throwing them off

ALWAYS TRY TO ACTIVATE PRIOR KNOWLEDGE!

When learners are ready to try a homework question, always have them read you the text.  Be patient.  If they’re really struggling, help them read the problem and then ask them what the key points are.

When working with older learners, you may want them to restate the question in their own words rather than asking them to read the questions aloud.

  1. Break the problems down together!
  2. Provide concrete, real-life examples they can relate to
  3. After the problem is understood either independently or with your help ask how the student plans to solve it
  4. Provide guidance, not answers
  5. To reach the correct answer, guide the student with questions and insights

As a last resort:

-If the student is completely lost, model a problem or two for them and guide them through a third so they can follow your example.

Offer Praise!

BEAUTIFUL WORK GREAT I KNEW YOU COULD DO IT NOTHING CAN STOP YOU NOW PHENOMENAL TERRIFIC YOU'RE ON TARGET YOU'RE FANTASTIC
BRAVO GOOD I'M PROUD OF YOU NOW YOU'VE GOT IT REMARKABLE JOB WHAT AN IMAGINATION YOU'RE ON YOUR WAY YOU'RE INCREDIBLE
EXCELLENT HURRAY FOR YOU MARVELOUS NEAT SUPER WOW YOU FIGURED IT OUT YOU'RE CATCHING ON
FANTASTIC JOB HOW NICE MAGNIFICENT NICE WORK SPECTACULAR WAY TO GO YOU LEARNED IT RIGHT YOU'RE ON TOP OF IT
GOOD JOB HOW SMART NOW YOU'RE FLYING OUTSTANDING THAT'S INCREDIBLE WELL DONE YOU TRIED HARD YOU'RE SPECIAL

 

 ALWAYS CONGRATULATE A STUDENT’S GOOD EFFORTS!