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Tutor-Parent Communication

Apr 14, 2008
For a tutor, communication with parents is a must. Tutors that communicate with the parent frequently tend to run a more successful business, land clients that are willing to pay slightly higher fees, and have clients that are more likely to offer referrals. In addition, sessions are more productive and tutors find it easier to build a relationship with clients. As tutor, you will most likely have an initial consultation with the parent and then communicate periodically to inform the parent of the progress you and their child are making during your sessions. Here are some things to keep in mind.

Be sure to have a lengthy initial conversation with the parent. This is your opportunity to sell yourself and convince parents that you are going to be the key to their child's academic success. One of the goals of this initial consultation is to share with the parent your philosophy regarding tutoring and what your approach with their child will be.

Many parents don't quite understand how online tutoring works and need to have it explained to them step-by-step. For instance, many parents are amazed to learn that the tutor and child will communicate by voice in real time through their computer's microphone and speakers. Many are under the assumption that the major form of communication will be through typing back and forth, chat room style, or believe that you will be working with many students at the same time. Use the initial consultation to make sure that the parents clearly understand what they are signing up for and be sure to answer any questions that they have.

Once you have established a rapport with the parents and helped them to understand what will happen during a session, you need to gain as much information about the student as you can from the parent. Be prepared for this portion of the conversation by having a list of specific questions that you will ask. Encourage the parent to elaborate and be sure to take a lot of notes that you can refer to later. Be positive, enthusiastic and reassuring during the entire talk. Keep in mind that the parents have turned to you because they are currently struggling and are probably frustrated because what they are doing is not working and they are looking for answers. Help them to believe that you will be the answer to their problem.

Be sure to maintain communication with the parents once you have started tutoring their child. Many tutors find it best to write a quick email to the parent immediately after the session finishes letting them know what was covered, how well they feel the student understands the material, and what the student should be working on before the next session. Taking a few minutes to write a couple of sentences will help the parents feel like they know what's going on and what they are paying for.

Some tutors even have a generic form that they fill out after each session to keep a record of what went on during the session. They include not only the basics such as what was covered and the level of understanding of these various topics, but they also include information to help them prepare for the next session, or what the attitude of the student was during the session. A copy of this document can be emailed to the parent as well as filed away by the tutor.

Students often need tutors because they are struggling with material in school. Their confidence may be low and their frustration level is often high. They may feel as though they aren't as smart as the rest of their classmates or that no one gets why they don't understand concepts that others kids have already mastered. A good tutor should recognize this and focus on changing the child's attitude through encouragement and positive feedback. This should also be relayed to the parent as often as possible. Every parent wants to see their child happy and confident and hearing positive comments from you will mean a lot to them.

Finally, some parents would like to know how their child is progressing over a longer period of time. Consider evaluating a student when you first start working with them and re-evaluating them again after a few months have passed and provide both the student and parent with both positive and negative feedback. Such areas that should be addressed should be: What are the student's strengths and weaknesses? How has their approach to learning improved? How have their study habits changed?

Periodic feedback is crucial to building and maintaining relationships with parents. Make it a point before you start working with new clients to develop a plan for efficient but meaningful communication and convey to the parents how important you feel keeping them informed is. This philosophy will be one of the keys to helping you build a strong and extensive tutoring business.
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