Most Important Things a Tutor Can Do for a Student
by Charlie Stewart
Tutoring, while an academic practice, transcends the practical demands of subjects, homework, and tests. While tutors can help students reach achievements in the realm of academics that they never thought previously possible, it would be misguided to assume that the actions of a tutor are restricted to this area. In addition to being a source of academic assistance, tutoring is a process built upon human connection, interpersonal relationships, and the act of getting to know someone not only as a learner, but also as a person. Ultimately, the most important things a tutor can do for a student are provide academic guidance, human connection, and consistency, and the combination of these factors can potentially reinvent a class, subject, or school more broadly for a young learner. To see more about the benefits of tutoring, see our Benefits of Tutoring Page.
Academic Guidance and Support
Academic assistance is the most obvious thing a tutor can do for a student, and the first reason why any parent sends their child to tutoring. If a student is struggling in a subject, and their teacher is unable to find the time or effort to truly help them, then that student or their parent must turn to exterior sources to avoid falling behind, struggling, or, at worst, failing a class. Especially in a world that grows ever more competitive, it is critical that students keep up with their peers and manage to achieve some measure of academic success in school. Tutors are seasoned veterans of the academic arena, as well as experts in their subject, and the presence of such a figure in the setting of one on one instruction can provide the help and guidance that a student needs to revive their performance in the classroom. Tutors move at the pace of their student, and tailor methods of instruction for that individual student specifically. For example, if the student is an auditory learner, tutors can explain concepts verbally with extra detail and care; if the student is a more visual learner, tutors can help them craft diagrams and images and representations of material that they would probably not encounter in the classroom; if the student learns by reading and writing, they can collaborate with their tutor on a study guide. The advantage of working with a tutor is that the nature of that work is open-ended and structured on the basis of the student’s needs. Tutors can grant students a level of autonomy in their learning that they would struggle to find inside most classrooms, which are beholden to the collective needs of a large group of students as opposed to individualized requirements of a single learner. Everything about tutoring is about the student, and this is why the academic assistance that tutors provide can be so helpful and effective.
Human connection is another critical, indispensable benefit that a tutor can give to a student. A tutor straddles the line between teacher and friend, and they are often closer in age to their students, which can make them more relatable and more likely to help their student get comfortable. This unique position that a tutor occupies could add a new dimension to a student’s learning, as they can receive guidance from someone who is both relatable but also experienced and older and qualified in their subject. Tutors are excellent role models of academic success, but they also know what it’s like to struggle in school, as it would be hard to find anyone in the world, no matter how intelligent, who hasn’t had a difficult time in at least one class. This, in addition to the fact that tutors are often either still in school or recently graduated, creates a sense of empathy. At its core, tutoring is about so much more than academic work; it’s about building a relationship, cultivating a connection, and helping students change not only their results in a class, but also their attitude toward it. The more a student connects with their tutor, the more comfortable they will feel asking questions, explaining what they don’t understand, and putting themself on the path to success.
Consistency is the key to improvement in any area, and it’s one of the most important things that a tutor can provide for a student. With tutoring, practice is quite literally guaranteed, and the mere act of exposing a student to guided, one on one instruction in a subject on a consistent basis can make a serious difference in a student’s learning. Under the watchful eyes of a tutor, there’s no way for a student to slip through the cracks and go unnoticed, and even if they hate the subject, they will still practice throughout every session with their tutor, and this greatly increases the chances of tangible academic improvement. Often, if a student really struggles in a class, they will try to avoid it because of the discomfort and difficulty, but with tutoring, this type of avoidance becomes virtually impossible. Mastery can only be achieved through practice, and practice can only be effective through consistent repetition— consistency is a key benefit that tutors can provide for their students, and this, combined with academic assistance and human connection, is what makes tutoring so effective as a supplement to standard classroom instruction.