Are you a Classical Conversations® Essentials Tutor? First, thank you for being a vital part of your local community, leading the next generation of lifelong learners to know God and to make Him known!
Second, amid a busy semester, we thought we’d send some encouragement and support your way through our blog. So, we asked several experienced Essentials Tutors to provide their best tips to parents also serving in this leadership position.
Read: “Tips for Doing Foundations With Your Littles”
12 Tips From Essentials Tutors to Essentials Tutors
Whether you’re new to tutoring Essentials or have done this for years, we hope you can glean some advice, encouragement, or practical tips from this list. Again, thanks for all you do!
Keep Parents in the Know
One of the most significant pieces of advice we heard from experienced Essentials Tutors was to keep parents involved and informed as much as possible.
1. Send a Recap Email to Families Each Week
Each week, consider sending a detailed email to each family in your program reviewing what the students did in community that week and suggesting activities and exercises for parents to complete with their students at home.
When recommending assignments in a specific book, be sure to provide both the name of the book and which page number the activity is on. For new Essentials families, there are many books to keep track of. So, always remember to clarify!
2. Encourage Parent Participation
Just because you’re leading the lessons doesn’t mean the students can’t learn from the other parents! Plus, you don’t have to know everything. That’s what makes learning in a community so valuable. Everyone can learn from everyone, and when no one knows the answer to a question, you can wrestle with it together.
So, for example, when the students read their papers aloud, ask both students and parents to contribute feedback. Or, when a student asks a question you don’t know the answer to, don’t just make something up! Instead, consult another parent in the room to hear their thoughts.
3. Encourage Parents to Apply “EZ+1”
Remember Andrew Pudewa’s concept of “EZ+1”? Taught in IEW, the idea here is to take what is easy for your child and add just one new or moderately challenging task to it to push them to progress without overwhelming them. For example, if a student is competent in diagramming a simple sentence consisting of a noun, a transitive verb, and a direct object, see if they can diagram the same sentence with an added prepositional phrase.
However, EZ+1 applies to much more than just diagramming sentences! Encourage parents during community or in your weekly email to implement this technique at home while writing, solving math problems, or even learning the Foundations memory work with their students.
Use the Right Tools
It isn’t easy to tutor Essentials without the right tools and resources. Make the most of the support Classical Conversations provides!
4. Hand Out Activities from Onward
Every Essentials Tutor knows that the moments before class starts can be a bit—well—chaotic at times, to say the very least.
One way to settle things down while you’re waiting for each family to arrive is to hand out activity sheets from the Onward magazine to the students. Ideally, this will keep the kids quiet, busy, and learning!
5. Utilize CC Connected
Fortunately, with all the digital resources available on CC Connected, being an Essentials Tutor is much easier now than just several years ago.
For instance, consulting the Weekly Helps section is invaluable when creating a lesson plan. Plus, scrolling through the parent forums is a great way to find answers to your questions and practical advice from parents and tutors like you.
6. Write Out a Lesson Plan
Speaking of lesson plans, many Essentials Tutors find it helpful to create their own. While given sample lesson plans, you too may find it beneficial to write or type up your own to reinforce what you will cover with the families each week. Hopefully, by writing out a lesson plan, you won’t have to consult it much while you are leading, allowing your full attention to be on the students and parents.
Make Community Day Exciting!
Creating a fun and enjoyable environment for students to participate in is crucial to encouraging a natural love of learning. Follow these tips to make your community days the most exciting day of the week for families!
7. Escape to the Outdoors
Is it a beautiful day outside? Then take your families outside, gather around in the grass, and pick up learning math in the lovely weather.
Of course, you probably won’t want to do this on every warm and sunny day since students can be distracted easily outside. However, it can still be an excellent opportunity now and then to break up the monotony of learning in the same room each week.
8. Host Friendly Competitions
For example, putting on a spelling bee can be a fun way to drive students to study hard. If you don’t take the competitive spirit too far, things will turn out fine (fingers crossed).
9. Get Creative With Your Example Sentences
One Essentials Tutor consulted for this blog post recommended using students’ names in the example sentences. The children love to be recognized and see their names on a whiteboard. Plus, you’ll probably get a few giggles if you can come up with an especially silly sentence.
10. Use Raffle Tickets and Candy
You know those paper raffle or admission tickets you get at carnivals, theme parks, or theaters?
Grab a roll from Office Depot, for example, and when a student answers a question in your community, tear off a ticket and hand it to them to write their name on. At the end of the lesson, pass around a bowl for the students to place their autographed tickets into. Draw two or three “winners” from the bowl and reward them with a piece of candy!
This simple activity acts as a powerful motivator to encourage student participation. Of course, make sure to give everyone a fair chance to answer questions and receive tickets, and don’t just dish out the whole roll of tickets to the most outgoing student in the group.
Keep These Two Things in Mind
As an Essentials Tutor, consider these last two bits of advice to help your community stay centered on Christ and focused on the students’ learning.
11. Start With a Prayer
Consider beginning or ending your community day with a prayer. At the start of the lesson, this can settle the students (who are arriving with high energy from lunch and playtime) and set the focus for the lesson on honoring Christ in all we do (even in diagramming sentences!).
12. Take It Slowly
There’s no point in rushing through the material if students don’t understand it. Plus, review weeks are built into the Essentials program to allow you to be free to spend an extra week or two studying a particular topic without feeling pressured to rush forward.
What’s Your Advice for Essentials Tutors?
We hope that as an Essentials Tutor, whether new or experienced, you found some helpful advice or encouragement in this post. If you have any tips of your own for others in this leadership role, please share them with us on Facebook, Instagram, or in the CC Connected parent forums. God bless, and have a great rest of your semester!
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