Question: Dear Ask a Tutor,
I’ve been tutoring a 3rd grade student for about 2 months now. We meet at 6:00pm on Wednesdays. Every session she seems to be really tired, and it’s challenging to get her engaged. I’m not sure what to do, so any help would be appreciated.
In my whole duration of being a tutor at School On Wheels, I’ve often tutored during those same hours or even a bit later. There are a few things you want to keep in mind:
- The student may have just come home from school. This can be a tiring ordeal. It was for some of my students, who were still attending their former schools to give them a sense of comfort and normalcy through a tough situation. These schools tended to be further away, and students could only reach school via public transit. Sometimes students might be splitting time between family members or parents, etc. For many reasons, their days–even after school–can be demanding and tiring. Oftentimes, the parents have to take their children everywhere with them, and students run many important and timely errands with their parents. The parents have a lot to worry about as well, and their children have to endure that too.
- The student’s meal times are either limited or strictly scheduled. Ever since I’ve noticed this fact, I’ve tried my best to cater to this. If they are in a shelter, most likely the shelter strictly observes when meals are served and other matters concerning food. I make sure that my tutoring hour never coincides with whenever the shelter serves lunch or dinner. I also try to make sure that the student has a break, maybe 30 minutes to relax, before I arrive. I want to give them some time to unwind and eat.
Sometimes, I may bring a snack for my students, but only with the parent’s permission. That usually wakes them up. Nonetheless, I strongly suggest that you politely bring up your concerns with the parent(s) and see if you can work out a new time or day that works for both of you. You can start by saying “S/he looks very tired around this time…Should we change the time/day to _____?” I It’s always good to be a little flexible in those matters and with time. I found that when I made my arrival time a bit later, the student had eaten and had enough time to relax, and they seemed well-energized during our session.
However, if your time is fixed around a busy schedule, maybe think of fun tasks for the student in the beginning to wake them up? You could try talking about something your student finds fun or interesting. If my student is talkative, we usually begin with a chat before work. Good luck, I hope this helped.
About the tutor: Timesia Garcia is a dedicated volunteer, passionate about helping others. She studies sociology at a local community college and has been tutoring with School on Wheels for almost two years.
Have a question for our Ask a Tutor feature?
Email askatutor [at] schoolonwheels.org or use the #AskATutor hashtag on any of our social media sites.