What About One On Two Tutoring

If you have more that one child, it's generally preferable to devote separate, individual time to each.  But if your children do their homework in the same place, there may be times when you'll want to sit down and help when they're both (or all) there.

On the plus side, it can be motivating for a student to see a sibling taking his work seriously and engaging with you to discuss it.  You'll also have the benefit of one child overhearing (and seeing) the content of the other's lessons, which means he might absorb portions of it.  

For some students, working near each other can even create a healthy level of competition and inspire both to show their dedication to academics.  Home schooling families sometimes find that younger siblings like to keep up with the older ones, thereby learning material that other students might not learn until later.

But be sure that your children do not get too competitive with each other.  I once tutored tenth grade twins who raced to complete their honors Algebra 2 work.  They zoomed through the problems while snipping back and forth about the correct answers.  One girl bragged about how quickly she got the answers, which made the second girl more defensive about her own work and less likely to slow down and ask questions when she had them.  I knew that if I were to keep tutoring these students, I would need to separate them or ask them to work silently.

If you are tutoring more than a child at once, devote extra attention to ensure that each child is learning independently.  When questioning one child, for example, don't let another child blurt out the answers, unless that's part of the activity.

Don't compare students to each other with the aim of making one feel less worthy than another.  If you say, "Look how thoroughly your brother checks his math problem," consider later balancing it with, "Isn't your sister being conscientious about annotating her history notes?"  And make sure your interactions with one child aren't so distracting that they make it more difficult for your other child to work.  If that's the case, see if you can create separate work spaces for each child -- or, at the very least, bring one child to a different location when you're working aloud with him.

Written by Marina Koestler Ruben

How to Tutor Your Own Child

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