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Tutoring Ineffective – Discontinue?

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Tutoring Ineffective – Discontinue?

I am still finding it difficult to tutor the year 7 student. He gets too distracted and doesn’t enjoy the topics. I have spoken to his parents about it and they tell me he tends to lose concentration. He rarely does his homework to the best of his ability. Should I maybe talk to his parents again and tell them? I think he may need a new tutor as I don’t feel he is responding well to me. We have made okay progress but it’s far from excellent.

There are a few questions you should consider:

  • Have you exhausted all suitable approaches with this student?
  • Is there perhaps a difference in your personalities that is preventing the kind of positive response you are accustomed to? Why is this problem happening?
  • Are you sure you have adequately attempted this challenge?
  • Is it a suitable time in the year and in the student’s best interests for you to pass this student onto another tutor?

Some students are just difficult to work with and are likely to challenge any tutor; at least until they “see the light”. You want to make sure if you stop tutoring this student it is because you specifically are not suited to them NOT because you cannot handle the challenge. Otherwise the next tutor is likely to have the same trouble as you but the student will needlessly have to acclimatize to a new tutor.

If you don’t feel that you are adding value then talk to the parents. It probably shouldn’t be in the form of “I’m not suited to work with your son” though. Rather it should be a consultation to answer the following two questions:

  • Why is he not responding and what can be done about it?
  • Is it perhaps best if another tutor takes over, are you the problem?


  • What they think can be done about the concentration issue and lack of effort?
  • Can part of the problem be resolved by the parents – for example by enforcing homework habits?
  • What do they hope you will accomplish? Do you think you can do that?
  • What feedback has the student given about you?
  • You don’t feel like you are helping him enough and maybe somebody else would be better suited? What do they think about that? How do they think the tuition is going? Etc

Although the situation is not a positive one, parents will typically appreciate the honesty and professionalism in such a situation. At the end of such a conversation there should be a clear decision, based on what is best for the student, either:

  • You will continue with the student for now BUT specific new approaches will be used to improve the situation.
  • You will pass the student onto another tutor, with sufficient feedback that the tutor can prepare and tackle the situation adequately.