Get the kids to school on time. Ace your presentation at work. Run errands. Manage after-school activities. Cook dinner. Spend time together as a family.
The to-do list never ends. It's no wonder you're having trouble figuring out how to balance at-home tutoring with everything else. Tutoring is yet another time and financial commitment, as well as a decision that's crucial to your child's academic success.
Here's how to make more time in your home life for tutoring – even if you're already juggling too many commitments:
1. Simplify the Hiring Process
One of the biggest barriers to finding the right tutor for your family is the hiring process. Not only is this process time-consuming and stressful, it can be expensive, too.
After all, you're looking for a tutor who understands your child's curriculum, and one who can help them succeed in the areas where they need more support. That level of expertise doesn't always come with an affordable price tag.
At TutorUp, we simplify the hiring process for you by connecting you with the very best tutors at even better rates. Use our concierge service to look for certified teachers in your area. We'll help you identify the teachers with the right experience at an affordable rate.
Once you're connected with your new tutor, it's up to you both to find the right time during the week to put your student on the path to academic success.
2. Make a Consistent Schedule
When your weekly schedule is packed to the brim, finding time for tutoring can be a challenge. But establishing a routine with your tutor is important for your family – and for your student.
Pick a consistent day and time, so you can manage your to-do list around your student's tutoring sessions. Consistency gives your student the structure and stability they need to learn successfully over time, too.
Planning doesn't come naturally to everyone, though. If you struggle to keep all of your after-school and work commitments organized, it's time to change your approach:
- Invest in a family calendar and keep it in a prominent place.
- Or, if your family is tech-savvy, use a scheduling app like Google Calendar or Cozi to keep everyone's commitments straight.
- Make notes about who is responsible for which commitment.
- Commit to planning ahead. When you plan one or two weeks out, you can limit the number of surprises that disrupt your day-to-day routine.
3. Drop a Commitment
Sometimes we just can't do it all. And our tendency to over-schedule could actually be hurting young students, distracting them from the kinds of activities that make a difference in their education over time.
"In our desire to fully engage with our children’s education, many of us gravitate to time-intensive activities that may not actually have much impact on their success in school,” Ariela Rozman, an expert in K-12 education, explained to Harvard Business Review.
Rozman suggests that paring back on school events to focus on homework help or reading as a family might make all the difference in your student's overall academic success.
The same could be said for prioritizing tutoring over other activities – if only for a short time. Make joining after-school clubs and sports a goal for the following semester, or help your student choose one activity they really enjoy, instead of juggling three or four.
Still, this process can be tricky for students who may already feel down about needing a tutor in the first place. However you and your family decide to fit tutoring into your after-school schedule, make sure your student understands that it's not a punishment – and that it can be an exciting, challenging way to keep improving their skills.
4. Use "Flex" Work Time
Office jobs are more flexible than ever, and your company likely has a policy about "flex" work time or flexible schedules. Don't be afraid to take advantage of these policies – especially if you don't have additional money for childcare, or nothing else in your schedule will give.
Communicate openly with your partner or your family members, so you can determine who has the most wiggle room in their schedule and which workplace is most supportive when it comes to childcare. Maybe it's possible for you or your partner to work at home in the afternoons during after-school tutoring. Or maybe one of you can head to work an hour earlier, in order to leave the office at 4 PM and accommodate your tutor.
Be open with your boss about your afternoon schedule on tutoring days, so you can prioritize tutoring without shirking your duties at work. Have a plan you can discuss with your supervisor about how flex time might work, how long you think you'll need to maintain your alternate schedule, and how you might avoid future scheduling conflicts or make up for "lost" time and productivity.
The more prepared you are to address potential problems or pitfalls, the easier it will be to negotiate your schedule with your supervisor – and stay on top of your work projects without missing a beat.
5. Trade Responsibilities With Your Partner
Balancing the needs and schedule of an entire family can be tough – but it's even tougher if one person is pulling more of the weight.
If you know you or your partner struggle with delegating tasks, take the time to sit down with your family calendar and hash out the commitments, errands, and to-dos that take up everyone's time during the week. Which tasks can be delegated, outsourced, or traded off? What can you take turns doing for one another?
Don't be afraid to shake things up, either. Even if you're the one who usually does the grocery shopping, that doesn't mean your partner can't pick up dinner a night or two a week, or stop at the store on the way home from work. Divvy up responsibilities equally, and consider when it makes the most sense to delegate or share tasks you tend to take on yourself.
While it might take some planning and negotiation, you've ultimately created more time and space in your life to accommodate your child's education – and that's worth the balancing act.
6. Ask for Help
No one expects you to do it all. In fact, it's impossible – which means it's ok to ask for help from friends, neighbors, or relatives as you figure out the best way to manage your family's to-do list. Can your other children get a ride home from soccer practice with a friend? Can you trade off after-school pick-up with another parent in your neighborhood?
Look to your school, friend, and family networks for connections across all your activities to help make scheduling easier. Consider how sharing tasks like after-school pick-up might ease the time crunch on tutoring days – and which days you have wiggle room to help out other parents or family members in return.
Using your networks will help free up your time during the rest of the week, and make it easier to find a reliable emergency backup contact for those days when life takes you by surprise. All parents need a dependable friend, neighbor, relative, or babysitter they can call in a pinch. Do you have a backup contact for the days you're running 20 to 30 minutes behind, or when your other kid's ride bailed and you have to arrange an emergency pick-up?
If you don't have an emergency backup for your tutoring sessions, it's time to designate someone to be the adult in the room if you or your partner are suddenly unavailable on tutoring day. Remember, tutors aren't necessarily caregivers, and it's important to respect their time and their role in helping your student improve academically.
This may require that you ask an additional adult who can play the role of caregiver to be present, even if they're not actively watching or monitoring the tutoring session. Remember to introduce tutors to your emergency contacts or babysitters, so everyone feels comfortable working together in your home.
If you're interested in hiring a tutor who also has experience with caregiving, you'll likely shell out a higher hourly rate. Be sensitive to the idea that pairing childcare with tutoring is a different kind of expectation and plan accordingly. Highly trained tutors consider themselves educators first, and you should be clear about what the tutor's responsibilities in your home are throughout the hiring process.
Finally, be sure to exchange cell phone numbers so you can reschedule if life truly gets the better of your family calendar. As every parent knows: it happens!