• 22 June 2018
How to Kick Off a Tutoring Session

How to Kick Off a Tutoring Session

May 24, 2018

Carving out the time tutors have with students takes more than just scheduling each session. Here are 5 ways tutors can jumpstart their next tutoring session to maximize their students’ learning time.

Tutors on average spend upwards of an hour with their students. On paper, that might seem like plenty of time. In practice, however, time flies – and tutors need to strategize how to make the most of those precious minutes and their lessons.

That means getting the session started the right way. Engaging your student in the first five minutes of the session can ensure they’re grappling with the material, and aren’t distracted or disinterested.

There are plenty of ways to kick off your next tutoring session:

1. Focusing activity

Start out with a challenge, problem, or illustration that captures the essence of the lesson. Something that prompts your student to focus their attention on the material, and switch off from the rest of their day’s concerns. Education writer Dr. Barbi Honeycutt recommends using questions to connect the day’s prompt with the lesson plan, so your student is engaging in critical thinking from the start.

It’s useful, too, to discuss early on in your session what today’s lesson entails, so students can have an idea of what’s expected of them in the brief window of time you have together.

2. Ask questions

Ask a few questions about the lesson material at the start, but don’t have the student answer them just yet. The questions will frame the rest of the lesson, and allow your student to actively reflect on what they’re learning to your initial questions. At the end of your session, provide for a few minutes for your student to consider the questions again, and then discuss their answers.

3. Retrieve past lessons

Before jumping into today’s lesson, spend the first few minutes having the student recall what they learned from the last lesson. Memory retrieval strengthens what students have learned, and encourages them to build on past material and their critical thinking skills.

4. Have them write it down

Students can reinforce their critical thinking skills by reflecting on paper (or the computer). Incorporate some reflective time having your student write down their thoughts about the questions you’ve asked at the outset, and what connections they can draw between past content and their current lesson.

Reflective writing is also a great practice for building a physical record of student’s learning achievements, which you can use to evaluate students’ progress. Portfolios also serve to boost students’ enthusiasm for the learning process, seeing how far they’ve come in owning and tracking their own academic success.

5. Do something fun (and memorable)

Some educators go the extra mile in building their relationship with their student. After all, you’re another adult figure in their lives, and finding a way to personally connect with your student can overcome hurdles to the learning process.

Create a special handshake between you and your student, or for the musically ambitious, make a song based on the learning material.

Go ahead, be creative. There isn’t much time each session, but for you and your student, every minute counts.


By keeping your student focused from the start, you can set the tone for the rest of the session, and ensure your student is productive and interested, too.

Tutors: what are different (engaging, fun, creative) ways you switch your student onto the lesson at hand? Share in the comments below!