Kids Tutoring Kids

kids tutoring kidsIt all started with Pokeman cards.

Lucas, my 11 year old, wanted to buy some Pokeman cards. Knowing that I would never give him the cashola for these, we started brainstorming some other ways that he could make some money. After thinking through all of his skills and talents, he decided that he should tutor kids in Mandarin. He knows Mandarin well (he has been learning the language since he was 3), he is patient, and he gets along well with everyone — the building blocks to being a great teacher!

He created a website, did a little marketing and voila! Four students! We learned a lot over the past few months about the best way to conduct these lessons and in the process he gained a lot of confidence about running a business. He needed to plan the lessons, conduct the lessons, keep track of the tuition, reach out to parents and organize his schedule.

Does your child have a skill that he/she can share? Perhaps you can help your chid start his/own tutoring business!


  1. PLAN AHEAD: Spend a lot more time than you think you need to plan your lessons. I can’t tell you how often we would find ourselves at 9:30 the night before his lessons freaking out because we did not make time to prepare the lessons ahead of time.
  2. TAKE IT EASY: At first, we both thought it would be easy! Heck! I was a teacher before I was a mom. It was much more challenging than we expected. We wanted the lessons to be fun and engaging and that takes time! We also had 4 students at all different levels, so we could not simply repeat the same lesson. In retrospect, I think we probably should have just taken on one student at a time.
  3. DIFFERENT COMPONENTS: There is nothing worse than running out of things to do when you are a teacher. Always OVER-prepare! Help your child plan 3 or 4 different activities to do during his/her lesson period.
  4. TIMING: Keep the lessons short — 45 minutes tops.
  5.  SPREADSHEETS: We created parent progress sheets for us to keep track of the lessons and words taught. We had four students at 4 different levels and so this was a great way for us to keep track of what we had already done.
  6. BACKWARDS DESIGN: We thought through where we wanted the students to end up before we started each lesson. What do we want our students to know by the end of the lesson? By the end of 10 lessons?
  7. ACTIVE GAMES: Kids like to move — especially after school. They don’t want to sit down and do Chinese after they have already been sitting for 6 hours in school. Plan a few active educational games in the middle of the lesson.
  8. FUN: Have fun!  In the beginning for us, it was definitely not fun. We were a bit stressed about how to do it and how to manage all of the lessons. Towards the end, we got into a rhythm and enjoyed it.
  9. FIXED GAME PLAN: Our students knew what to expect for each lesson so that there were no surprises. They did not balk at sitting down at the beginning because they knew  it was just for a short time and they would be up playing a game. Our general game plan for each lesson was built on three components:

a. Review: A  review of the words and concepts that he had taught in previous weeks.

b. Active Game: An active game to learn new skills and concepts.

c. Deeper Understanding: A sitting activity to apply the new skills and concepts that they just learned in the active game.

Let us know in the comments section below or on our Facebook page if you tried out this idea or if you have any thoughts about what we are doing!

Enjoy! Michelle

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