What to Consider
- Will you help kids at your school, or travel to a nearby community that may need extra support?
- Is there an age restriction for tutors or students?
- Is there an application process?
- Where will you recruit tutors from?
- Will you offer general homework help or address a specific subject area?
- Which subjects will you cover? At what levels of advancement?
- Will the tutors be working one-on-one or can they lead group sessions?
- Where will sessions take place?
- What hours will people tutor? How long will it last?
- What's the mission statement of this program? Do you want to help students learn how to read, improve their grades, or even just boost their confidence by making learning fun?
- To serve those in need, make a survey to find out where they need the most help! Talk to teachers and students too!
- Start small and specific! You may start with only a handful of participants but that’s okay. Come up with one easy, achievable goal for the semester, and then, make it happen!
- Take your time! Give yourself a semester to set-up the program. Find a group of kids who want to help with the program and delegate tasks so that you don’t get overwhelmed.
Recruit tutors. Print a few flyers and distribute them to teachers in the upper level classes. Ask if they have any recommendations of kids who might be interested. Hold an information session and explain what the program will entail.
Transform students into teachers. At your first meeting, lead icebreakers to get tutors to know each other. Then, run a few training activities.
- Ask them to fill out a questionnaire asking about their strongest subjects and their best learning experiences. Now they can start discovering their own teaching process.
- Together, come up with a list of good tutoring techniques.
- Do some role-playing. Split tutors into pairs and give them different difficult scenarios they might face when tutoring. Ask them to perform a short skit for the group, showing how a tutor might respond a student that is having trouble. Some examples are:
- a student who isn’t paying attention
- an unresponsive student
- a student who keeps distracting you by asking irrelevant questions
- If tutors will be helping with specific subject areas, give them time to prepare.
- Split tutors into groups and ask them to come up with a list of fun games or activities that they can use.
Collect supplies. Can your teacher lend you pencils, paper, or other materials? Should program participants bring their own supplies? Make a proposal to your school administrators or even community members. Maybe someone will be interested in providing snacks!
- Hold monthly meetings. Talk to tutors and discuss problems they are having. Get tutors to share ideas or techniques they have used with their students. Maybe hold another training activity!
- Celebrate your volunteers. Head out for ice-cream after one of your sessions. Even if you can’t afford to pay for all the tutors, this will give everyone a chance to hang-out and get to know one another. Well-fed tutors are happy tutors.
- Evaluations. Ask students and tutors to fill out evaluations to find out what they like, or don’t like about the program.
Expand Your Program
If things are going well, there are endless ways to expand your program. Reach out to more students who need help or add another day for the program. Think about continuing into the summer.
Stuck in the Starting Blocks
Sometimes it feels like there are just too many things to consider when starting a program. If you need help getting specific, here are a few sample programs that are easy to replicate!
- Have kids read together. Hold a two-hour session every Friday. Split into groups and have kids practice reading to each other with a tutor supervising. For the last half-hour, read a chapter from a harder book that the kids all enjoy. Talk to a few first grade teachers and ask them to invite their students or distribute flyers to parents.
- Offer homework help. Choose a few days a week when high school tutors can stay after school to help middle schoolers or younger high school students. Post flyers at the middle school and make an announcement so that students know about the program.
- Reach out to a school in need. Talk to an administrator or teacher and let them know that you want to help. Choose a grade or classroom to focus on and find out what the students are learning. To address the need, devise a lesson plan to teach anything from simple mathematics to writing an essay. See if you can meet at the school on Saturday mornings to hold a few extra class sessions so those who need help have the opportunity to get it.
- Host language practice over lunch. If your school offers foreign languages, talk to those teachers and choose a day of the week for students to eat lunch together. Make everyone speak in their foreign language during the entire period so beginners get a chance to practice and improve.