One of my students has been sick for the last few weeks and has thus missed a substantial amount of maths – any tips for catching them up?
This is a fairly common scenario in tutoring. Here are some suggestions.
- First get the student on side by discussing the need to catch up on the content and getting some commitment from them. You can make the catch up a “mini-project”
- Make sure you are fully aware of the content the student has actually missed. They need to ask their teacher or peers so that you know what needs to be covered.
- Plan the “catch-up-project” together with the student, don’t just do it in an ad-hoc manner. Map out the content which you need to teach them and tentatively what you will teach them in each tutorial for the next X weeks.
- As you cover material in the coming weeks make sure that you acknowledge the student’s progress and give them positive reinforcement for their improvement.
- The most immediate concern should be that the student can effectively learn at school and not feel lost when they are in the classroom. If they feel lost in class they will continue to fall behind for a little while and this will spiral into a bigger problem for you as they bring more and more “problems” home from school.
- The approach to catching them up should be strategic and deliberate, not random or unstructured. First you should teach them the content being covered currently at school and knowledge gaps that relate directly to that material so that their time is not wasted and they can follow the teacher reasonably.
- Encourage them to use all the resources available to them in order to catch up, not just you. They should see their teacher at school for extra help during lunch or recess, or before/after school. The teacher can help answer their “problem” questions so you can focus more on teaching the concepts and not have to deal with their “silly mistakes” or other details that may not really relate to catching up. The can also ask their friends for a bit of informal help.
- Another option is to suggest extra tutorials for a few weeks or longer tutorials. For example two lessons per week instead of one or tutorials for 1.5 hours instead of 1hour at a time. Just make sure the parents are ok with this, not just the student.
- If you and the parents agree to do this then it can be a good way to gain commitment from the student to do extra homework until they catch up. i.e. extra tutoring is only warranted if they agree to do their part and work hard.