What Parents Should Know About Math Tutoring Sessions

Updated: Jul 7

Although parents don’t sit through tutoring, they should know what to expect in a math tutoring session to ensure their child’s needs are met.


I headed to a dealership to buy a car. My previous car had something corroded and it would cost more to fix than the car was worth (I don’t know much about cars). Getting a new car is exciting, right?!


But I dreaded that day.


Car dealerships stress me out. I always schedule oil changes or maintenance in the beginning of the week because otherwise I spend the whole week worrying about what extra services they will say my car needs. And not knowing a lot about cars, I don’t know if they’re being honest or trying to get extra money out of me.


With buying a car, I worried about the same scams and getting the best deal. On top of that, there are endless options of makes and models. How do you choose?


Choosing a new product or service can be overwhelming with all of the options. Photo by Filip Filkovic Philatz

I narrowed it down to cars with good gas mileage, then went to the dealership to test drive.


Can you imagine buying a car without researching your options? Without a test drive?


I can’t.


So I want you to choose a math tutor knowing what to expect from each tutoring session.



Your Child Deserves the Best


You might see your child’s math grade decline. Or incomplete homework assignments for the first time. Or you saw other indicators after reading my post, “Is your child ready for a tutor?” You decide your child is ready for a tutor. And you want to find the best tutor.


You can differentiate tutors by their education and experience, but wouldn’t it be helpful to know what a typical tutoring session looks like before choosing the best tutor for your child?


How do they plan for tutoring sessions? Are they able to explain concepts in different ways? How do they build your child’s confidence in themselves and their math abilities?


Here’s a sneak peak into what I do.



How do you plan for each math tutoring session?


My plan for each session is aligned with the student's goals. This may include homework help, a review before unit tests, and/or standardized test prep.


From teaching high school math, I learned the importance of teaching concepts in multiple ways to ensure students with different learning styles understand. Therefore, I teach each concept looking at graphs, tables, equations, and words.


Words? In a math class? Yes! Students describe the problem-solving process and identify when to use certain processes. Common Core stresses the justification of math processes, understanding why procedures are used and what the answer means. Gone are the days of solving math problems over and over to only know the procedure and answer.


Another key element to tutoring lessons is continuously cycling back to review older content. Math builds on itself so it’s important to have a solid foundation.


Planning is different for students who are “caught up,” on track with their current math course and understanding most topics, versus “falling behind,” struggling to maintain the pace of learning and/or having trouble understanding concepts.


A typical AP Calculus 60-minute tutoring session would include:

· 5 minute review of content from previous sessions

· 15 minute practice of AP questions (for other subjects, this would be solving more challenging review problems)

· 35 minutes of focused instruction, homework help, or test prep

· 5 minute reflection or summary of problem solving techniques


For a student who is falling behind and needs to drastically improve their grade, I would skip the 15 minutes of AP questions for now, using the time for extra focused instruction. Once the student is caught up and demonstrates mastery of the Calculus concepts, then I would introduce AP questions into the lessons.


An advanced student may only need 15 minutes of homework help so I would dedicate the extra time to instruction on topics they will cover next. Having a preview of new content makes the content easier to understand when they learn it a second time in class.


What does an online tutoring session look like?


The same outline is followed for face-to-face and online lessons. See examples of this in the sample lesson below. (A bonus of online lessons is sending video recordings like these to students so they can re-watch the lesson!)








Tutoring sessions with other tutors will be different so I recommend reading tips for finding the best tutor, which includes questions to ask potential tutors. You could also create questions for the tutor from Carlton College's outline for tutoring sessions.


Get rid of the worry of finding the best tutor. Just like test-driving a car, I offer a free 30 minute online consultation to see if online tutoring would be a good fit for your child. Fill out my New Student Form, and we can set up the free consultation.

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