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Alternative Education 101: A guide for tutors

Tiffany Smith
July 17, 2017

How to tutor students in alternative educative programs.



Though "school" for most people means a traditional public school, "school" for many children -- many of your potential clients -- might also be a Montessori, Kumon, vocational or charter school.

The growing popularity of these and other alternative schools mean you'll have to adapt your teaching methods and lesson plans to suit several types of students. Doing so might prove a challenge, but approaching a lesson from different perspectives might eventually make your job easier. The key to working with any student, regardless of how he's been taught, is communication.

Talk With the Parents

  • Sit down with the parents. Make sure you understand their expectations.
  • Ask them how you can foster the learning process within the framework of their educational and philosophical beliefs.
  • Ask if you can speak with their child's teachers to further your understanding of the child's learning environment.

Talk With the Teachers

  • When you speak with teachers, first discuss the basics of the curriculum.
  • Ask what is expected of the child.
  • Ask the teacher to assess the child's performance now, and how it could be improved or enhanced with tutoring.
  • Ask teachers to explain their teaching methods.
  • Ask teachers to share their formulas for developing lesson plans.
  • Find out what kind of lessons the child seems to respond to.
  • Also ask if there are any subjects or teaching methods that are off-limits.

Keep an Open Mind
Be receptive to parents' and teachers' ideas. In the end, math is math and grammar is grammar. You're all trying to teach them same things, even if your teaching methods aren't the same.

Adapt Your Tutoring to the Teacher's Curriculum and Goals
Once you understand a school's curriculum and teaching methods, you'll be able to change your lessons so they correspond. Presenting a unified approach will provide the consistency the child needs.

Tiffany Smith is the senior associate editor here at Care.com. She has written for All You, Time for Kids and the Boston Globe. And as a former babysitter, she knows a lot about fun games to play with kids. Getting them to eat their veggies -- that’s a different story! Follow her on Twitter at @tiffanyiswrite

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