Tutoring: How to Form a Winning Game Plan

Welcome to Mom-Monday. I’m glad you’re here!

When kids need additional help to succeed academically, they can sometimes feel less-than. They might be embarrassed to tell others that they receive tutoring, or they might view the extra help negatively.

I thought I’d share an article today that I wrote for Sacramento Parent Magazine that will hopefully address some of these concerns and provide practical tips to help make tutoring a positive experience for your kids…

Tutoring: How to Form a Winning Game Plan

Like winning on the sports field, academic success requires hard work and practice. And just like athletes receive coaching in order to perform at their best, some students need tutoring in order to find their A-game.

Whether it’s additional help through school, a private tutor, or a corporate tutoring center, there are ways that parents can help kids to finish feeling like winners:

The Warm Up:Pat Haydon, Director of the California Learning Center in Sacramento, an educational clinic of credentialed teachers serving children ages 5-19, encourages parents and students to meet their tutor for a social visit first. She recommends talking about any fears or hesitations at that meeting and encourages parents to listen to how the tutor responds to make sure concerns are addressed. Letting your child know that tutoring is sought for a variety of reasons can help as well. From the struggling student to the gifted achiever, additional academic help can strengthen skills and increase confidence for all kinds of students.

“You can’t get good at anything unless you practice, practice, practice,” says Haydon. The key is making sure that the practice—or “educational coaching,” as she calls it—is fun for the child. When that happens, negative feelings go away and the child will look forward to the experience. Elizabeth Scales, Tutoring Manager at College Nannies and Tutors of Sacramento, says that when a child has a negative attitude, it’s typically because they lack confidence in the area that they are going to be working on. It’s important for both the parents and the tutor to help build that confidence. “A child that loves to learn will learn,” she says.

Ensure that the relationship between your child and his or her tutor is a fit, and that there is mutual respect. A child can go into the tutoring experience with fear or a negative perception, and it’s not necessarily an issue. “A skilled tutor can help turn this around quickly,” Haydon says. But if the child maintains a negative attitude, or his attitude worsens, it may be time to revise the game plan.

Water Breaks:
Make sure your child doesn’t get burned-out academically. Parents want to avoid pushing too hard. They can also balance out the tutoring time by helping kids identify other outlets, such as athletics or artistic activities. Especially for younger children, and when tutoring requires sitting for periods of time, a physical activity can be beneficial.

Trophies and Medals:
Provide rewards and incentives as part of the tutoring experience. At places like California Learning Center in Sacramento and Sylvan Learning, students receive tokens for achievements and can use the tokens to purchase rewards for their success.

Cheryl Bortmas, a Roseville mom of three, has had success getting her children enthused about tutoring through a reward system at home. “For each hour of tutoring they go to, they get a free hour of time at home,” she explains. Her children can then spend that hour on the activity of their choice, from playing video games to going out to ice cream. She has found it really helps them stay motivated when it comes to learning.

The Playback:
After tutoring ends, take time to look back on what has been accomplished. Elizabeth Scales recommends reviewing goals that were set at the beginning of tutoring to see all that was achieved. Doing this not only helps to point out your child’s success in the tutoring experience, but their success in school as well.

What about you? If your kids have received tutoring, what has been your experience? Do you have any recommendations or tips for other parents?


  1. I must say the beauty of homeschooling, especially those young ones is the flexibility that some of the high energy ones need. I have often said, "Go jump 20 times on the trampoline, and run around the house 5 times."The insights you gave are very helpful even in homeschooling, which I guess you can qualify as permanent tutoring.:)

  2. Hi Genny~ this post was so timely. Today, I'm starting a "tutoring" business. I did this for years when my children were babies, and am now ready to start again. Your post reminded me of some specific things I need to do as a tutor that I forgot to think about. So… thanks!Blessings to you~Jennifer

  3. What fantastic tips here… there is a lot of depth to this Genny! Thank you!Blessings-Amanda

  4. Thanks for chiming in, everyone. :)Jennifer, I'm so glad the article was timely for you. I wish you the best in your new business!Nice to "meet" you too, Candice.

  5. Hi Genny – really interesting post I particularly like the idea of building up your child's confidence so they look forward to the experience – homework as fun – it's a revolution! dropping by from MBC.Treasa

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