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How to Tutor a High School Student

by Jan Archer

As a tutor, your main objectives are to provide learning support, instill confidence and encourage self-sufficiency. When you tutor a high school student, remember that a teenager doesn't always understand how the material she's learning will apply to her future career or life. You must keep that natural lack of perspective in mind as you tutor and set up effective ways for the student to learn and grow.

Encourage

A high school tutor should come into the relationship determined to be an encouraging voice. Praising the student when she excels on an activity or demonstrates mastered knowledge can facilitate learning and turn challenges into triumphs. High school students may enter a tutoring situation feeling apprehensive or embarrassed, so it's helpful to make it clear that the need for extra tutoring is normal and that seeking out extra help puts the student ahead of the game. Tutors who listen actively can get to know the students' insecurities and boost their confidence. You can pick up cues about learning styles and personality features that will help you design your tutoring for the student's best success.

Mix Things Up

It may be hard to keep a high school student focused on a topic for very long, so design a varied tutoring session that incorporates discussion, practice and reflection. For example, if you're tutoring a student for a writing exam, you might start by discussing strategies for ten minutes, then assign a paragraph and let the student write for fifteen minutes. After that, you can have the student read the work aloud and verbally discuss ways it could be revised for clarity, style and persuasion. Pointing out the positive efforts before discussing revisions helps the student stay confident. The same technique can be used for tutoring in any subject; set time limits and switch activities often.

Have the Student Take the Reins

After you've demonstrated your own technique in assessing the student's work, it's helpful to have her assess her own work. When the student marks up her own essay, she begins to see it from a teacher's point of view. You can even ask her to give the work a grade and discuss why it would receive that grade. For example, pull out math assignments from the previous week and have the student grade her own problems. This is a crucial part of teaching self-sufficiency. The student needs to gain skills she can apply in your absence.

Assign Homework

You can use the time in between tutoring sessions to have the student explore and expand her knowledge. For example, if you're teaching descriptive writing, you might give the student a homework assignment of noticing her surroundings over the next week and jotting down concrete descriptions at school, at the mall or at the park. This helps the student continue the learning process without you, another important aspect of self-sufficiency. You can have the student email you mid-week with an update of her studying and any questions. The more practice and repetition you encourage, the more effective your tutoring will be.

About the Author

Jan Archer holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science and a master's degree in creative writing. Roth has written trade books for Books-a-Million and has published articles on green living, wellness and education topics. She taught business writing, literature, creative writing and English composition at the college level for five years.

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