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Tutoring two boys aged 7 and 12 in literacy - help?

Discussion in 'Private tutors' started by zahra2789, Sep 12, 2012.

  1. I'm due to start tutoring two young boys from inner city schools who need a lot of help with English. Whilst I'm really looking forward to it I'm just worried about the age gap between the two boys, but considering the elder boy has just started year 7 I think I might be able to find a lot of work they both can do, though I'm still apprehensive.

    In our first lesson (which last for two hours and fifteen minutes) next week I'm hoping to do a lot of introducing tasks. I'm hoping to create posters about English where we'll put up class rules and what things they associate with English. Then we'll do a stick man diagram where I'll ask them to describe themselves to me and move onto Spiderman or another cartoon figure to look at their language skills. Finally I'll ask them to read to me in turn and ask them to write down what happened so they can tell the other student, and end on a positive note to make sure they come the next week...

    Does this seem okay? I haven't had any teaching or tutoring experience but I'm super excited and think it would look well on my PGCE application.

    I'd really appreciate feedback and any tips.
  2. Given that you have no teachiing or tutoring experience I think you will find that 2 hours 15 mins is a lot longer than it sounds! Tutoring 2 kids really doesn't necessitate spending time on "class rules" other than talking about expectations and the rest of what you've suggested would probably take not more than 30 minutes.
    I'd suggest you'd be better off spending 45 minutes or so with each to get an idea of what they can do without having to worry about filling a long time and take it from there.
  3. Thanks for replying Steve, really appreciate it. To be honest, I have no idea what to do about timings. Since it is only two boys I think you're right; I'll have done everything in under half an hour and then be stuck umming and aahing for the rest of the lesson...

    Do you have any ideas what I should do with the other child whilst I'm focusing with the first and vice-versa? Also what should I look at with them?

    I'll scrap the rules bit, that would only take two minutes anyway, just make a giant English poster which we can add to as the lessons progress (hopefully we can put them up since it's a business center and we're renting out rooms though I can't be sure).

    Thanks again.
  4. I assumed in my message that you would be in the children's home and would therefore be able to just have 1 at a time and not worry about the other. I didn't realize you were talking about more of a "professional" set up and renting rooms etc.

    Without any experience how did you find the students or how were you approached to do the tutoring? Why are the 2 being tutored together? Why 2 hours 15 mins? Are you doing this by yourself or are you employed by a company to do the tutoring?

    If you hope to make a longer term arrangement of this you could do with doing a bit more ground work before taking on any others. If it's going to be group tuition you might want to contact a local tuition centre (not too close because they won't want the competition) and see if you can spend a little time with them.

    Find a willing child or 2 (family or friends) that you could practice with before jumping in the deep end with paying customers if you haven't done anything like this before.

    There are lots of resources you can buy in stores or get off the internet from sites like primaryresources.co.uk, teachingideas.co.uk and of course TES. Buy or get your employer (if you have one) to buy some and check out the sites.

    If/when you train and qualify as a teacher you'll see there's an awlful lot more to it than you might think. I couldn't even start to advise you much further because the issue is so big.

    If you have any specific questions feel free to ask and I'll have a go at helping you out

  5. Hi Steve. Basically I'm volunteering with a community charity that works with young children from disadvantaged areas. The charity has had kids highlighted to them by their respective schools, as the kids are often from disadvantaged backgrounds and do rather poorly in school, so the charity looks for people interested in working with kids and asks them to tutor the kids. I just applied through a volunteering organisation (do-it.org.uk) and then they called me in for interview a few days later. Whilst they do prefer working with teachers, I think I impressed him in my interview and he was more than happy to take me on. And honestly, I really appreciate it because I'm struggling to find places for work experience for my PGCE.

    It's two kids at the moment because the charity wants to try and take on more pupils. He said that they tried having four pupils in at one time but that became too difficult so they scaled back to two, but he added that he would like me to take more on if I can. I think the main thing is that because the kids are of different years it's difficult to find things they can do together, so I'm just wondering what things I can do. Also, I obviously am not qualified in the slightest; passion and enthusiasm can only take you so far so I don't want to do anything to jeopardise the pupils' learning. It's 2 hours/15 since they mostly start late, around 6.10 so the final fifteen minutes makes up for it. Plus there's a ten minute break, so the kids can relax and for prayers so it works out at 1 hour 50 minutes-ish.

    To be honest, I think the charity was thinking about it being a casual and light-hearted tuition, but I'm a firm believer that you can't half-**** teaching. You have to do it properly since it's not yourself you're doing it for, it's for the kids, so I'm really hoping to do it as properly as I can so the pupils benefit as much as possible.

    I've downloaded quite a few activities for KS2 and have thought about how to boost them up for the elder pupil. I've also looked at the curriculum for KS2 and 3 so I have a general idea of what they should be doing. I'm told that the pupils are at levels 2H and 3L respectively, but I'm unsure as to what the exactly means. I've tried googling it but there's nothing concrete, but from what I can infer, they're very poor attainment levels. I've previously informally tutored my younger sisters but to be honest, they were incredibly bright so we always just went with the flow with what we were reading together.

    What do you think I should start with? At this point, we have the same amount of information about these kids so what would your first thought be if you were in my position? I've not received their books yet so I can't pinpoint exactly what they need focusing on. I've been told they need help with everything - reading, comprehension, spelling, handwriting, grammar. They are far below the rest of the class and as they've been bullied by classmates and reacted just as strongly, they've been labeled problem children.

    Also, what reading books would you recommend that would help with their confidence and their reading skills? I've thought about The Gruffalo for the younger child, that way we can work on grapheme phoneme correspondence, but I'm not sure about the older one. Thank you so much Steve!

    Rachel, oh they look really helpful. I've had a look on the website and they cater for ages 6-11 so I could use a few of them for both pupils. And they've got resources for pupils to complete online! Brilliant! Thank you very much! Also short snappy activities to boost the pupils, that's a good idea too. Thank you!!
  6. Georginalouise

    Georginalouise New commenter

    Gosh Zahra, you've certainly put me in my place. I began thinking you were yet another college student thinking private tuition was an easy way to make a few quid (and no, it certainly isn't) and now I find myself taking my hat off to you for your bravery in taking this on. Firstly, I tutor big ones, mostly A level so my experiences may not be appropriate for your situation. I have found that with kids that are doing badly at school, the first thing that needs to be done is a confidence building exercise, and proving to them that you are not just yet another teacher who finds them a pain in the neck. I would find out what they like doing and go from there. It may be question of playing to their motivation, find out what makes them tick and build on it. My own son was a very slow reader and so was behind in literacy generally. He didn't even attempt to read until the whole family refused point blank to read instructions on his DS games. Once reading had a purpose (ie it made him better at playing games when he could understand what he had to do) the whole literacy area took off. You may find, for example, that they are far more forthcoming talking about Dr Who or Lego in the Argos catalogue, than working from a KS2 revision guide. My very best wishes, let us know how it goes.
  7. Hi Zahra, I'm impressed with what you are doing and am sure that you will find the experience a rewarding one. The details you have given really put it into a context I understand now. Simple, and the use of games would be best in this sort of situation (as mentioned above) - certainly for a few weeks.

    If you're going to be seeing them for a while ease into it, build a positive relationship and get a feel for it. Dont even think about levels etc to start. Given your experience with your sister you may well be really surprised at how poor low achieving kids can actually be.

    I can see what you need is some specific examples of exact things to do or resources to get. I'll give it a little thought and make a few suggestions. I think after a few weeks you might then want to post on here again when you have an idea of how you hope to move them forward.

    Incidently, where are you doing your PGCE?

  8. Oh excellent, I'll be sure to have a look in my library for them, as well as anything else that could help.

    I've had a look at the Hamilton Trust site and I've seen a few things that would work well for the first few lessons. Thank you very much Steve!

    The first lesson is tomorrow now and I'm really looking forward to meeting and getting to know the kids. I shall keep you posted on what happens and how it goes!


  9. Right so I've had two lessons with the lads, and whilst I've had few teething problems, I'm enjoying it.

    I can't really say much since I've only had them for four hours, but can anyone give me any tips on how to boost their concentration? The elder lad, (whom I'll call Adam here, not his real name) 'finishes' his tasks as soon as I've turned to his brother (yes, they are brothers. It smacked a bit like babysitting in the first lesson, but I've since gotten over it - sort of - and I'm trying to do it as properly as I can), creating only half of what I expect. When I say you haven't finished, he says "but yes, miss, I have," which is really frustrating. I want him to create longer pieces of work than half a paragraph.

    Also, any advice on how to make the boys look over their work properly? The younger boy, whom I'll name Bobby here (again, not his real name), never checks his work. When I say check it, he glances over it and hands it to me, and is crestfallen when I go through it with him and it's full of mistakes. I created a short story littered with mistakes (missing capitalisation, full stops, speech marks etc, something we worked on in the first lesson and he does every day at school) and he missed most of them, despite me warning him when he first though he had finished.

    My biggest concern is their behaviour. They basically treat the class like it's their house, walking around without permission, tilting the chairs back so they're sitting on two legs (so annoying to me even though I used to do it at school all the time...), and my biggest pet peeve is that they interrupt each other (when talking to me) constantly.

    Still, it's all minor considering Bobby swore at Adam last lesson. What made it even more awful is that he was so blase about it at first. I told him off clearly and made him apologise several times since he wasn't taking it seriously, but he was still cheeky the rest of the lesson. When we packed up I explained carefully to him that I was extremely disappointed in him and that I take no pleasure in telling him off (I think he has issues with discipline. He hates his teachers at school because they tell him off, to which I explained that if he didn't misbehave he wouldn't get told off and his teachers would treat him as he deserves.) I told the volunteer coordinator who shall inform his parents hopefully, but I'm not sure if I handled it correctly. In my head if they call me 'miss' and treat me like a teacher, I shall treat them like they're in school and won't tolerate any misbehaviour, though I've been told by friends and family that I went a little overboard and should have turned a blind eye. I think I did do the right thing, but I'm second guessing myself now. I don't want the boys to hate the lessons but I suppose I'm not there for fun, I'm there to help their English skills. Moreover, who said discipline was fun? I think the relaxed setting and my own soft behaviour last week made them think they could get away with anything. Hmm...

    Next week I'm working on writing techniques with Adam, since he's working on creating tension at school, and I'm going to have to go over sentences and full stops again with Bobby, even though he's sick of it. I'm thinking of creating a game with unfinished sentences and have him finish the sentences and put them in order too. With Adam I'm just doing some serious thinking now.

    Any tips or advice would be honestly, greatly appreciated!! :)
  10. Georginalouise

    Georginalouise New commenter

    Um, we told you it wouldn't be easy. I've been watching this the last 24 hours (almost) in the hope that someone with primary experience would jump in. What I've picked up on is that the boys hate school and their teachers, but you are saying to them that you are a teacher too and expect to be treated like a teacher My son sees a KS2 tutor, calls her by her Christian name and gets sweets to take home when he does well. Although she is a very experienced primary school teacher (rather she was...) he doesn't see her as a teacher at all and works much harder for her than he does in school. Just something for you to mull over.

    Where's that primarysteve when we need him?
  11. langteacher

    langteacher Occasional commenter

    I am not primary but when I have a student for one to one it is always first name terms, never Miss. I have a far more informal approach than I would in a school setting

  12. (I thought I replied last night but I think my post was eaten?)

    Georgina: Hmm, you're right, I suppose I'm asking for it with the teacher comment.

    Still, I'm not sure how to deal with their rowdy behaviour. I think if it was one on one I wouldn't have any problems but since the brothers are together, they act up a lot, hence the swearing and one or two rude comments. I can let the silliness slide but I can't stand the swearing, though now I'm second guessing what I've done. To be fair, that's the only thing that really caught me off guard: I knew it would be difficult but I didn't count on having behaviour problems with having only two boys. Moreover, I think that my own behaviour probably adds to it, since I'm unsure whether I should be stern and teacher like or more relaxed. For the most part of the lesson, it's fun and relaxed but when they act up, like they did last lesson, I do automatically tell them off in the same way that I tell off my nephews and nieces.

    I think you and langteacher are right, I probably should have introduced myself by my name, but it's a little late now. I think I should have organised some primary school experience so I'd know how to handle Bobby. I've only ever seen things from the secondary side so I don't know what exactly to do all the time.

    Despite my worries, I am enjoying it though. I think the lads are bright and capable, they just need to slow down, and I think it's their rushing that hinders their learning. I'm making note of everything that works and everything that doesn't in order to try and better the following lessons but so far I can just see the bad outweigh the good... Still, I've only had two lessons with them so I shouldn't be jumping to conclusions already, should I now?! I can only try harder with each lesson and try to have fun with them!

    This weeks lesson, I'm hoping to focus on creating tension in stories with Adam, and continuing to look at sentences with Bobby. I'm just struggling to find things that Bobby will enjoy, since he says he's sick of sentences at school. I think your ideas on using treats will probably help!

    Thank you for your comments and honesty, it's given me quite a few things to think about!
  13. Dear Zahra,
    I've taught primary for four years but now I am home looking after my primary aged son and managing my family which includes 3 older children. I currently work supply 2 days per week and I tutor 2 lively boys, under age 8, two days per week. The sessions are not long as the children are quite young.

    Prior to beginning, I discussed with the parent what she hoped to achieve with tutoring. In short, she that she wanted to give them an academic 'boost'. Finally, we agreed that with I would focus on teaching the 4/5 year old how to read, write the alphabet and numbers (as well as show her how she can support her little one at home!). She wants the older boy to perform better on his upcoming SATs -- he is currently a level 1c in all subjects. I think establishing what they can currently do and setting goals is important so that you, the parents and the students can assess progress.

    I did a short Year 2 assessment which I sourced from the internet. It also helped that I have been working in Year 2 as a supply teacher for a few weeks so I was able to compare his performance with a range of abilities in his age group. Also, I examined his school books and a report from his class teacher.

    I find homeschooling websites and publications very helpful, I read How to Tutor by S. Blumenfeld and decided to use the Alpha Phonics reading programme. It is very effective, flexible and different from what they are doing at school. I create handwriting and other worksheets from online generators (See website donnayoung.org). Since the family has a computer, I use a site called Manga High to assign homework (its FREE!) for the older boy. If your boys have access to a computer, I would recommend this. Also, you could use Manga High as a holding activity so that you can have time to work with each boy 1:1. Another activity that you could do with your boys is to give them a minute maths sheet or times table grid as soon as they arrive, make this part of their 'arrival routine'. Most children at their age need to master their times tables.

    I also make up my own games and I am planning on teaching them a counting game called Oware (mancala).
    I use a lot of praise and rewards (i.e., scratch and sniff stickers) which helps to boost their self- confidence. Lots of 'Wow', 'You're absolutely amazing!, 'Impressive, you've learned so much!...etc.

    As for discipline, I am firm and consistent which seem to work. If you don't want them to swear or wander around, tell them that you personally find it rude and insulting. Tell them you will not teach them if they continue to insult you and be prepared to end the session if they continue. I suspect they actually like working with you but are just pushing the boundaries. Also, remember, an idle mind is the devil's workshop and idle hands are his tools! So keep them busy. (smile) Keep organised so you are always one step ahead. A bit of mother wit mixed with behaviour mgmt training : )

    I am in no way implying that this is the 'right' way. Just brief tidbits about some of the things I do which seem effective. The other posts also contain useful information (which have been helpful for me as well!) so use what seems to work for your current group.
  14. Oh, wow. You've got some really amazing advice, thank you so much! Sorry it took me so long to reply, I don't even where I've been to be honest.

    I've got a parents evening next with the charity and I'm a bit worried. The volunteer coordinator (whom I repeatedly want to throttle sometimes) has hinted that I've made the progress that I should with the boys, which despite being true to some extent, it just makes me want to smack him even harder... I think the parents are going to think that I've done nothing with them all month...

  15. I have read through this fascinating soap and can't wait for the next episode> how did the parent's evening go? Does the co-ordinator get his desserts? Will the boys ever behave?
    Do please reveal all.
  16. GrahamLawler

    GrahamLawler New commenter

    check this out, it is enhancing self esteem in the adolescent http://www.amazon.co.uk/Enhancing-Self-Esteem-Adolescent-Thompson/dp/1842851837/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1354296619&sr=8-1
    I highly recommend it

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