This year I initiated a tutoring program at the high school my children attended. Several student volunteers from Covenant Day High School as well as adults from Christ Covenant Church have been meeting weekly with 12 elementary school students to provide homework assistance. The children have required help with a variety of academic needs and flexibility has been an indispensable part of making the program work. Along the way I have learned the art of training individuals who cared enough to give up an afternoon a week, but weren't sure how to translate that concern into effective tutoring. With an emphasis on helping students learn how to solve problems themselves, here are some strategies which we improvised as needs surfaced:
- When a kindergarten student didn't bring in a book to read or homework to complete, I encouraged his tutor, a high school freshman, to help the student compose a simple story. With that idea, the kindergartner enjoyed dictating and helping to write several sentences.
- Creating math drawings supplemented flash cards and helped students to "get" multiplication tables.
- Tutors needed to learn how to stretch their students' writing. For example, an adult sat and watched a child write a simple paragraph about a book he had read without providing any input. Although the sentences were adequate, words were misspelled, sentence syntax needed improvement, and there was a repetitious overuse of pronouns. The adult needed to see these problems herself in order to provide correction and instruction.
- Tutors frequently needed to be reminded to let their students read (and to not read for them!). Similarly, tutors needed to make sure the students comprehended what they had read. Reluctant readers can be coaxed to read aloud by taking turns—the student one page, the tutor the next. Readers also took turns reading different characters' dialogue.
- When reviewing spelling words tutors needed to find out if the student knew the word's meaning.
For more information on training tutors, see:
Christ Covenant Church, Covenant Day School, Teaching tutors, literacy