A good rule of thumb is to start out meeting with a tutor once a week. Sometimes more frequency is needed, but it’s easy enough to make that adjustment. Better to start on the low side, give it a few weeks, and see where things are at.
Once a week may seem insufficient considering that most K-12 students receive new assignments every day. But keep in mind, tutoring is not meant for walking a student through every task and every concept.
Instead, tutoring is meant to provide targeted support in the areas where students most need it.
In this post, we’ll take a close look at how to dial in the meeting frequency and make the most of your weekly tutor time.
For the full picture, be sure to check out our other post on how long tutoring sessions should last.
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For Most Students, Once a Week Tutoring is Ideal
Tutoring once a week is like our Goldilocks zone. For most students, it’s just right.
Less than once a week is just too inconsistent, and consistency is key! More than once a week is sometimes necessary, but we really want to avoid doing too much.
Well for starters, tutoring is fairly expensive. But even if cost isn’t a concern, too much weekly tutor time can really work against our goals, either by overwhelming the student or by making them overly reliant on the support.
In short, tutoring works best when it’s not too little and not too much, but just right.
A Common Exception to the Once a Week Rule
Of course, parents often sign up for tutoring during a moment of crisis.
- Maybe there is a huge backlog of assignments that needs to be completed before an upcoming deadline.
- Maybe there is a looming final exam that their kid feels totally unprepared for.
In a crisis, we might want to throw a lot of tutor time into the equation. In the short term, this is okay. But as we exit the crisis it’s important to step back down, finding a weekly meeting frequency that supports a student’s ongoing success without overdoing it.
Most importantly, successful tutoring is all about what happens in-between the weekly tutoring sessions. An increase in the amount of weekly tutor time should always involve an increase in the amount of student effort outside of tutoring.
Keep in mind, tutoring is a supplemental resource, not a replacement, for classroom teaching and student effort. In order to take full advantage of the tutor time, students need to put in the work.
How to Make the Most out of Once a Week Tutoring
Once a week tutoring is usually just one hour per week. We can accomplish a lot in that time, but it’s rarely enough to do all the things that need to be done. Instead, the expectation is that students put in time outside of tutoring as well.
What they need to do varies depending on the tutoring plan, but we can generalize it into two camps: Preparation and practice.
Preparing for the Weekly Tutoring Session
Preparation is all about making the time spent in a tutoring session as efficient and productive as possible.
Let’s say a student needs support in their math class and the tutoring plan is focused on homework help. Most likely, they have some grasp of the material. If they attempt all their homework first, they can come into the weekly tutoring session with nothing but the stuff they need help on. That makes the session much more efficient.
Even if a student is far behind in the class and isn’t able to solve any problems on their own, preparation is still important. Just the act of trying to solve a math problem will prime a student to more quickly and easily understand the explanation.
Preparation is also a way for the student to maintain a sense of responsibility. At the end of the day, a tutor is just a resource to help a student achieve their goals. But the student is responsible for actually achieving those goals.
Practice Makes Perfect
Practice is all about taking the skills learned in tutoring and applying them. It helps with retention as well as building better habits.
Let’s say a student needs support in organization. Their tutor might help them set up systems for staying organized, but the student needs to actually use and maintain the systems to see any benefit.
Or let’s say a student needs support in writing an essay. Their tutor might provide feedback on a draft, but the student needs to actually take that feedback and revise.
Usually, tutors in Portland will set goals for the week or assign specific tasks to help clarify where students should focus their effort. But ultimately, if a student doesn’t practice, they won’t improve.
When You Should Consider Tutoring More Than Once a Week
Once a week tutoring is the general recommendation, but every student is different.
Some will need more hands-on support to get through a particularly difficult class or to successfully build better academic habits. Or if a student tends to slack on their responsibilities, a second weekly session can provide more accountability.
Tutoring frequency also needs to align well with the tutoring goals. If a student needs support across multiple classes, it may be necessary to have a weekly tutoring session for each subject.
Tutoring Frequency Vs. Session Length
It’s also important to consider the session length. Tutoring sessions typically run for an hour, but they can be shorter or longer depending on student and tutor preference.
With online tutoring, we could split once a week tutoring for an hour into twice weekly tutoring for 30 minutes each. Same amount of tutor time, but a different distribution.
On the flip side, we could consider increasing the length of our once a week tutoring session to 90 minutes or even 2 hours instead of meeting more frequently.
Different tutoring arrangements work better for different students, and you won’t really know what works best until you get started. Ideally, there should be some flexibility with your tutor to make adjustments as needed. But once a week tutoring for an hour works best for most students. Unless you have a strong inclination to do something different, start there.
Weekly Tutoring with Emergent Education
At Emergent Education, we encourage students and parents to commit to a weekly tutoring schedule, but there is no contract locking you in. Consistency is valuable, but so is flexibility. You can learn more by checking out our pricing page.
If you want more specific guidance on tutoring frequency for your student, schedule a free consultation. We look forward to hearing from you!