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June 7, 2022
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Why successful tutoring requires an ongoing relationship

How-to and Tips

Students often need a little extra help to get where they need to be academically. For schools and districts looking to provide this support, there’s an enormous range of options to consider: establishing after-school homework help with tutors; setting up teacher office hours; encouraging better study habits; reviewing skills with apps like Khan Academy and IXL; or even changing in-class curriculum to cover remedial topics. 

These options each have their pros and cons, and it’s important to find the right fit for your community. But if you want to provide long-term achievement for your students struggling the most, the intervention you invest in will need to include frequent sessions with the same tutor.

For your students, working with a dedicated tutor over time has several benefits that can’t be replicated with other models. Here are just a few.

Get to know your students’ assets

All of your students are smart, skilled, and capable, but that might not always show up in their academic performance. To a tutor who meets with them only once in a while, these multifaceted talents won't be obvious. And a video- or game-based digital platform can’t get to know your students at all. 

In contrast, a tutor who meets with a child frequently can identify and leverage the assets they bring to the table. These might be academic skills, for example: Maybe the student is great at multiplication and the tutor can teach division with that background in mind. 

Tutors can also incorporate a student’s personal interests to increase motivation and buy-in. This type of information usually requires an ongoing relationship to surface. 

After several sessions, for instance, a tutor might notice a student always has a homemade snack and learns that the student loves to bake. Knowing this, they can then relate a lesson on dividing fractions or converting units to understanding recipes.

Or maybe a tutor finds out that a student dreams of attending Howard University. Knowing this lets them encourage the student to keep their eye on the prize, because focusing on tutoring today means taking another step closer to achieving that dream.

A rotating cast of tutors, or even a single tutor who only provides homework help on an as-needed basis, won’t have the opportunity to get to know students enough to draw out these academic and personal assets.

Identify root causes for academic issues 

There are many reasons why a student might be struggling academically in the first place. They could need a refresher on a past skill or just have a hard time with a specific concept. Maybe they lack a safe, quiet study space at home or have something on their mind. 

While students may be able to articulate some aspects of what they struggle with, a skilled tutor can dig deeper over time.

Academic skills and concepts build on each other. Tutoring that covers a specific skill or particular homework assignment may help a student get past a single hurdle, but a tutor who meets with the student frequently can make conceptual connections and build a foundation for continued progress.

For example, a student might struggle with ratios and proportions because they never fully grasped that fractions are a type of division. A skilled tutor who knows the student will figure that out and dig deep into reteaching that connection. Not only does the student learn their current classroom content, but they’ll also have an easier time with balancing complex equations in the future—something that might not be possible if the tutor just helped them pass the ratios and proportion unit. 

Build a relationship that sets up ongoing success

Relationships take time to establish. A one-time tutor can walk through a problem in a way that a student can replicate, but the tutor who meets with the student several times a week gets to know who they are, builds on progress in each session, and ultimately sets the student up for success beyond just a single skill or assignment.

The benefits don’t just apply to academic support, either. A positive relationship with a trusted tutor means students are more comfortable admitting when they’re struggling and asking for help—and in turn, helps bolster their confidence and motivation to succeed. 

Do you want your students to access skilled math tutors with flexible and frequent availability? Remind Tutoring partners with schools, districts, and other educational organizations to provide virtual, one-on-one tutoring to students who need math help. Visit our site to learn more.