As pressure increases on school children to achieve better exam results in order to get into the best universities, parents are turning to private tutors to enhance their children’s chances of success. Private tutoring can be a lucrative business and is something to consider if you are a PhD student or an early career academic who wants to earn some extra money.
What does it involve?
You will tutor school age children on a one to one basis, usually for an hour at a time, so you need to be able to prepare activities for them that will hold their interest, and you should enjoy working closely with individual students.
You will also have to respond to the demands of the parents! They will have a firm idea about what they want a tutor to achieve. This might not always be in line with the abilities of their son or daughter so diplomacy and sensitivity are also required skills.
Many parents hire a tutor because they want their student to achieve particular exam grades. Others receive a fright when their child does poorly in a piece of coursework and they employ a tutor to help their child improve. A few simply want their child to receive the one to one attention that is not available even in the best schools.
There are usually three sorts of activities that you will be asked to do:
- Coursework help (sometimes involving a specific task, other times improvement in writing performance)
- Exam preparation
- General tutoring to improve students overall performance or make them a more rounded individual (especially for very bright students, perhaps those who are aiming for an Oxbridge place).
What you need to know:
As an experienced student yourself, you probably have knowledge of a range of tactics for helping students improve their performance in written work and exams. However, it is also important that you are acquainted with the requirements of the courses that they are taking.
You need to find out which options and which exam boards their school works with and learn what the requirements are for each. If you are or have been a school teacher then this will be easy. But if you have never taught in schools, you can use the internet to coach yourself on the requirements of each board. There is also plenty of teaching materials available online, which saves you time when preparing lessons. However, some resources are available only to teachers in certain schools and are password protected, so you may find that you have limited access, for example, to past papers.
You also need to know what the student and their parents are trying to achieve (see above). Tutoring is very lucrative and can be very rewarding but it is also a responsibility as you will be judged on your results (i.e. whether the student improves their grades). Sometimes other factors can prevent this improvement from happening, so it is important to engage them in an open and honest dialogue from the start, showing that there are no guarantees. Keep them up to date with their child’s progress and if you feel that there is a reason why the student won’t achieve the anticipated result, then say so.
When the relationship works well, it is one of the most rewarding aspects of teaching and is definitely an option to consider in order to top up an income.