5 Tips for Tutoring Elementary School Kids
When it comes to tutoring elementary school kids, you need to have a few specialized skills in your bag to connect with them effectively. Students in the K-5 grade levels are different from older children.
As an elementary school tutor, you need to build on the child's educational framework. The way they learn is in a state of development, and they could be struggling with certain concepts for a long time—and then suddenly get it—and seem to advance very quickly.
As you help students meet their learning goals, consider these five essential tips for effectively mentoring elementary school students.
1. Exercise patience
Children in the K-5 education group generally have shorter attention spans than students in higher grade levels. This is developmentally appropriate, and it will require a good deal of patience from you.
For instance, you may decide to end a session sooner if you get the feeling that your student has enough information to process for the time being.
If a child is struggling to follow an assignment, then it's your job to break down the instructions so they can understand the material. Give them less to concentrate on at one time.
So much of what you'll do involves step-by-step processes, which may feel tedious to you, but anything faster could overwhelm and discourage a struggling learner.
You should also allow time for the student to ask questions. Before moving on to more advanced concepts, check in with the student to ensure they're not feeling too burdened by the information and assignments you gave them.
Some students will be more open about this than others, so you'll have to gauge what your student can handle in one session.
2. Be positive
Keep students engaged through your positivity!
Elementary students are usually very receptive to a tutor's overall enthusiasm, and this helps them enjoy their studies and keep working at them.
Keep the tone of your conversations positive by applauding them when they do well and speaking words of encouragement when they're struggling.
Some examples of positive comments include:
- Good work!
- That was a difficult problem, and you did it!
- I like how you thought really hard about that problem.
- That's not the answer I was looking for, but I'm pretty impressed by your thought process!
Lead by example, and you'll find that a positive attitude is contagious.
3. Create a safe, supportive learning environment
Do everything you can do to foster a safe and supportive learning environment. When you're tutoring one-on-one with a student online, you're sharing a digital space. Use the technology available to you in the Lesson Space to make your student feel more comfortable.
If your student is shy, skip the live video chat option and rely on live audio or text chat. Some students would rather see you, and that is great, too.
Whichever method you communicate, employ compassion and understanding. Truly listen to your students, whether they're asking questions or expressing frustrations about the lesson. Validate their feelings by saying things like, "I totally get that," or "I think I know how you feel."
You don't want to get too off-topic, but it's okay to let your students talk and feel at ease discussing things with you. Hopefully, this trust will help them feel more comfortable asking questions about the subject you're teaching, too!
Through positivity and encouragement, you can bolster a student's self-confidence, which can go a long way to helping them be successful in life.
4. Make learning fun
Elementary students learn more effectively when the material is presented in a fun, relatable way. Even if the subject matter is inherently dry and dull, you can spice it up with silly analogies or references that your students will be able to identify with.
Think about popular animated movies, cartoons, or book characters that your student will probably know. Take cues from the clothing your student is wearing. If your student is into airplanes, you can use airplane examples in your lessons to help them relate.
You might even want to open your session with a silly joke to get your student laughing and feeling more comfortable. Remember to keep all humor age-appropriate, of course.
5. Be organized
Your tutoring session is more likely to go smoothly when you're organized.
There are always exceptions, and you should also be prepared to throw all your plans out the window and embrace a new direction when the situation calls for it, but you should still go into each session feeling prepared.
Here are some organization tips to help you out:
- Gather together all your materials before the session, so they're available when you need them.
- Prepare your mind, too, so you feel confident about what you're teaching.
- Take notes to help you get through the session, such as questions you can ask your student, plans on how to present concepts, and responses to questions that your student might ask.
- Make sure your physical environment is tidy and quiet, so you and your student can converse with little or no distractions.
As you embark on your tutoring journey, remember that elementary school students are different from older students. You will need to adjust your teaching skills to appeal to their developmental abilities and personalities.
It's also crucial to remember that students of all ages usually respond well to tutors who are positive, patient, compassionate, empathetic, and supportive. Treat each student with respect, encourage them to ask questions, provide positive feedback, and above all, make learning fun!
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