How to Be a Tutor

If you think that you have some knowledge or skills that you would like to share with others, then you may be thinking of trying to be a tutor. But what skills do you need to be a good tutor? Here are some ideas to start you thinking of how to be a good tutor.


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    Consider what knowledge or skill you wish to share. You don't have to be the world's expert in that subject, but you should feel comfortable and confident about what you know or can do.
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    Think of how you would explain your subject to a variety of students. Some students might be bright; others not. How can you explain the difficult parts well?
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    Consider what materials you could use to make your subject clear. Do you have (text)books, videos, photos, charts, exercises, etc? You might have to prepare your teaching materials first.
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    Decide what kind of student you will try to work with. Do you prefer children or adults? High achievers or weak students?
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    Determine the scope of your work. Will you cover only the basics, a specialized area, or advanced studies?
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    Consider the ethics of tutoring. You would be considered a responsible adult, a role model, a safe person for someone to be around. Make sure you can fulfill these roles.
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    Consider your communication style. Tutoring is all about talking to someone so they can understand you perfectly. You must know how to explain your subject in a logical fashion, break it down into its component parts, give examples and illustrations, show the practical ways of applying the knowledge. You must also be open, honest, polite, respectful, friendly, encouraging, as well as authoritative.
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    Think of how you would handle a frustrating student who doesn't get it. Are you ready to explain the idea four times in different ways?
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    Keep a notebook or log for each student you tutor, and write an entry after every lesson. Note achievements and difficulties of the day to keep track of your and the student's progress. You must be accountable for the teaching you do.
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    Devise a way to informally evaluate the student's progress and be prepared to report it to the student and/or parents regularly. The client will want to know how far or fast he/she is progressing.
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    Consider what reward you want out of the experience. Tutoring is usually not very money-making, but if you love to explain what you know for someone else's benefit (not to hear yourself talk or show off), then it might be right for you.


  • Make sure you have a suitable space to work in your home, or decide that you will only work in the student's home or other public space, which may not be feasible for some skills (e.g. you have the piano, or swimming pool). Consider how your work may affect others living in the house.
  • If you work with minors, be prepared to deal with the parents who might have stringent expectations for their child, and want to hold you accountable for academic failures.
  • The problems of advertising your services are not discussed here. But you must consider how to market yourself, and how to work as an independent contractor (including self-employment tax).
  • Create some kind of assessment and evaluation system to determine both the students' entry level and their exit point (how they successfully mastered the amount of the subject to be taught).
  • Determine how you will acquire or create the suitable teaching materials you will use, whether sheet music, textbooks, woodworking tools, etc. Be prepared to create a personal library of resources, which could cost some up-front money.


  • Never place yourself in a questionable situation of being alone with a member of the opposite sex, minor, or anyone where you might be accused of sexual harassment or predation.
  • Be sure to have appropriate insurance to cover your work, such as homeowners, professional, workman's comp, malpractice, etc. to cover any injury to yourself or your student during the course of tutoring.

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Categories: Teaching