Ask A Tutor Tuesday – 10/5/2015
Question: I’ve been tutoring since July, and my student recently went back to school. The last two weeks, I’ve been working on homework with her during our sessions. She has a lot, and I’m wondering how I’m supposed to do other activities in addition. How do I find the right balance? She really insists on doing her homework but some of it seems too advanced.
I’m also a tutor who finds it challenging to balance time spent on homework and additional activities within a tutoring session. However, I’ve found that having a schedule of activities is helpful for me and my student because it structures our sessions in a manageable and timely manner. The schedule does not need to be too specific or rigid. What’s more important is that the schedule guides—but doesn’t limit—the tutoring session through a series of expected weekly activities. For instance, typically, my student and I work on homework for 30 minutes, then spend 20 minutes on filling in a specific academic gap, and finally have 10 minutes of free time. But of course there are times when a certain activity dominates the whole session. More often than not, this activity is homework.
Like you, I can also be really concerned when I spend too much tutoring time on homework, especially when I know that the assignment is above my student’s capacity. In this situation, I blend another activity into homework help. Typically, I blend homework time with filling in one or more academic gaps. I do this because firstly, homework can help inform us of our student’s gaps. Secondly, I’ve found that knowing my student’s achievement gaps helps me identify my student’s challenging areas within the assignment. I can use this knowledge to properly guide my student to complete the homework. If you have not done so, I recommend that you look at report cards, or administer a SOW assessment to help you identify your student’s specific gaps.
Now, if you find that your student is having way too much trouble with her homework, it might be helpful to talk to your student’s teacher so that you can receive additional assistance as well.
I hope this helps!
About the Tutor: Andrea Aguinaldo has been with School on Wheels tutor for almost a year as both a volunteer tutor and one of our AmeriCorps members. As part of SOW’s Volunteer Engagement team, she helps research volunteer resources.
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