23 Sep

Using Students Interests To Maintain Focus During Tutoring Sessions

Sarah knew a few very important facts about Andrew before they ever sat down for their first tutoring session. She knew, based on the phone call with Andrew’s mom, that he liked Star Wars, the color green, and that zebras are his favorite animals. To some, these may sound like trivial facts, but Sarah asked these questions with a purpose. When Andrew’s six year old mind began to wander, and he became unfocused, Sarah used this extra knowledge to bring Andrew’s mind right back to the lesson at hand. After the first few times Sarah had to remind Andrew to focus, they stopped the lesson and spent the rest of the tutoring session brainstorming what it looked like to be on task and focused. She then pulled out another sheet with a pre-made reward system that she created using the likes and interests given to her by Andrew’s mum.

She explained that for every concept they were working on, Andrew would get 3 points for following all of the behaviors they listed as being on task and focused. He would gain 2 points for following most of the behaviors, 1 for a few and 0 for none. Then Sarah pulled out the big guns. She showed Andrew three Star Wars “badges” (pictures of the characters printed from the computer.) She explained that when Andrew earned 10 points, he would earn the first character badge. When he earned 20 and 30 points, he would earn the second and third badge. When he earned all three badges, she would bring in her Ipad and they could watch YouTube videos of zebras for the last 5-7 minutes of the tutoring session. This highly intentional process costs Sarah almost nothing, and incorporates Andrew’s likes into every session. It also helps Andrew stay on task, and teaches him how to work towards a goal.

Sarah found out early on in her sessions with Stephanie that Stephanie loved arts and crafts. Sarah set up a system to track Stephanie’s focus, and gave her a tally for every 5 minutes Stephanie stayed on task. Sarah promised Stephanie a mini hands-on craft after she earned 50 tallies. Stephanie went above and beyond to be focused in order to quickly earn her craft.  Although Sarah is not necessarily a crafty person, bringing in a few Popsicle sticks, string, pieces of colored fabric and some glue turned into a fancy kite Stephanie could take home and be proud of.

Nothing warms a parent’s heart more than seeing their child is not only being educated, but cared for as well. When parents see someone who has a genuine interest in their child’s strengths and interests is tutoring their children they will undoubtedly rave to other parents about how their child’s tutor goes above and beyond to help their child.

These easy motivational tools can be used on most primary grades, and produces excellent results. It can also be easily customized for different students and subject areas.



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