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Effective Tutoring for Adults: Tips for Tailored Learning

Many people sit on chairs with notebooks on their laps.

Tutoring for adults is a lucrative business model. This is because there will always be a need for privately motivated adult education or tutoring for professionals. After all, there are numerous reasons – such as overcoming language deficits or continuing professional development – that can prompt students to take part in private tutoring.

Although adult tutoring is an exciting profession, the adult clientele also poses challenges for tutors.

Below you can find out what makes tutoring for working adults so special and which adult tutoring tips can make your start as a tutor easier.

What distinguishes tutoring for adults from age-restricted education?

There are striking differences between tutoring for adults and tutoring for children, even if both support services are based on the same idea. The aim is always personal – private, academic or professional – improvement in a specific subject area. However, more is demanded of you in adult tutoring than in homework support for a minor pupil.

Working with children and young people in particular is often very unstable in terms of commitment. This is due to the fact that the respective pupil is in a developmental phase in which mental maturity still has to grow. Hormonal changes and the resulting mood swings also cause a certain amount of fickleness. In contrast, tutoring for working adults has the advantage that you can expect a certain continuity.

In addition, you can focus entirely on your task as a teacher, while you also have to pursue secondary educational goals and act as a role model when dealing with children. In adult education through tutoring, educational aspects take a back seat. Instead, your work will focus on lesson structure and knowledge acquisition. The quality of your work is largely determined by the experience you can demonstrate in relation to the respective subject matter. After all, your adult customers already have their own experience, which they will incorporate into the lessons. The questions will therefore be more detailed and complex compared to those of underage students. Especially if you offer tutoring for professionals, you should expect them to already have a solid basic knowledge.

Another difference is that adults are often dissatisfied with the traditional way of teaching. They prefer a lively exchange rather than having their knowledge drilled into them in a monologue (i.e. a one-sided lecture). Interaction between students and teachers therefore plays a central role in tutoring for working adults.

The most significant difference in tutoring for adults compared to tutoring for children, however, is that the learning methods are different. This means that effective learning strategies for adults always incorporate the principles of adult education.

From a biological point of view, children and adults acquire learning material in the same way, because the same areas of the brain are activated during learning. Nevertheless, in tutoring for adults, in contrast to tutoring for minors, learning methods with the following criteria have proven particularly effective:

Adults are not passive learners. Instead, they want to play an active, creative role in the learning process. To do this, they also draw on their previous knowledge. It is important that the participant develops a sense of responsibility for the learning success and can contribute to the course of the lesson.

The most successful teaching concepts are those that focus on the individual as a whole. For you, this means, for example, weighting the proportion of visual, auditory, communicative or motor learning content accordingly and responding sensitively to the character traits of the pupils.

Which target group makes use of tutoring for adults

Three apples are lying on top of four black notebooks.

Tutoring is usually associated with traditional school subjects and school content (such as history, math and German). And in fact, adult tutoring is often about recovering missed or already faded school knowledge. The overriding goal is usually a school-leaving certificate. However, the desire to take a degree course, pass an exam or prepare for an entrance examination can also be reasons for seeking tutoring. People with a migration background form another target group, for whom the thematic focus is often on learning a new language.

However, the tutoring service is also aimed at adults who have already started their careers. Tutoring for professionals can include specialist knowledge (for example in the IT sector or the use of certain programs such as Excel).

The need for learning often results from a change in professional requirements. The (analog) knowledge learned is being pushed back by general progress and digital solutions. Tutoring should then ensure that the customer can continue to meet the professional (or everyday) requirements.

Tutoring for working adults can also serve as a further qualification and thus be the key to career advancement. Industry-specific (e.g. language or mathematical) skills are often required in managerial positions. Tailor-made private tutoring for adults therefore boosts career opportunities.

However, there are also educational requests that are neither school nor professionally motivated and are therefore somewhat out of the ordinary. Tutoring for non-traditional learners, for example, covers private topics. Perhaps a customer wants to prepare for a trip and learn the language and culture. Sometimes tutoring can also help to develop understanding for other people and reduce interpersonal differences.

Whether and for what reasons a person chooses adult education through tutoring always depends on how important education is to their personal values.

Depending on the teacher’s qualifications and their own level of knowledge, adults can choose tutoring at all levels. However, adult tutoring is usually of a higher level than the tutoring offered to children. This also means that the tutor must expect higher standards.

Compared to tutoring for underage pupils, however, the educational offers take place under similar conditions. Pupils can choose between individual and group courses, between online and offline courses and sometimes also between physical settings.

Adult tutoring tips – that’s what matters!

Offering learning support to adult learners can have many advantages, especially when they are self-employed. If you are your own boss, you enjoy many privileges. First and foremost are the freedoms (for example in terms of time and hourly fees).

However, self-employed tutors are quickly confronted with the first hurdle, namely finding students. The customer generation can be quite difficult at the beginning, especially since the main target group of classic tutoring, i.e. underage pupils, is not part of the clientele in adult education. Instead, the target group for tutoring for adults is made up of companies and individual private customers. Employers who use training for individual employees or entire departments are particularly lucrative. The challenge for the tutor is to develop effective learning strategies for adults so that the company comes closer to its operational goals through the tutoring sessions. However, if this is successful, the tutor will benefit from good word of mouth and a stable clientele.

However, a high degree of passion is also required, especially when it comes to learning support for adult learners. Teachers who are motivated can also encourage their counterparts to learn. This effect is particularly useful if participation in the tutoring sessions is not based on personal initiative but has been prescribed by the boss.

Individual tutoring for adults is characterized, among other things, by detailed questions, while children and young people are often satisfied with a superficial review. Meticulous preparation and a high level of expertise are therefore also required. After all, the teacher can only stand up to the students’ questions if he or she can demonstrate sound knowledge.

Often, however, the success of a tutor also depends on progress. In times of rapid technological change, up-to-date work is a quality factor. Tutoring for working adults is often called upon because the job profile (for example in technical or scientific terms) has changed fundamentally. In this case, it is important that the student can still meet the professional requirements in the future through further training.

For tutors, the constant development of theoretical and practical educational material is a further complication because they also have to keep up to date. At the same time, however, the constant need for learning secures the customer base.

High-quality tutoring is also characterized by an individual touch. In practice, providing individual tutoring for adults means responding to the respective strengths and weaknesses as well as the situational characteristics of the customer. This can be a particularly sensitive issue for adults who have to overcome professional or private hurdles at the same time as receiving tutoring. After all, the lessons can also create a kind of pressure to perform.

Individualized work can mean taking into account the time constraints, identifying a learning type and selecting learning methods that suit the type. Even when teaching an entire department or a large learning group, the individual approach should be given.

So you can see that tailor-made tutoring for adults is quite tricky. Nevertheless, it’s worth sticking with it because you will grow into your tasks as soon as the ball starts rolling.

Individual tutoring for adults – the advantages

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These benefits await you if you want to earn a living with tutoring for professionals:

  1. By developing effective learning strategies for adults, you deepen your own knowledge and acquire useful learning methods for yourself. By working as a private tutor, you will also hone your didactic principles.
  2. Tutoring for adults often has the advantage that the understanding of logical connections is greater. As a rule, adults can also focus on a topic for longer. The transfer of knowledge is therefore usually smoother compared to dealing with children.
  3. Another plus point is the motivation to learn. Most adults take part in tutoring on a voluntary basis and contribute their own financial resources to participate. As a result, motivation is much higher than with a minor pupil, who often neither takes part in tutoring on their own initiative nor has a sufficient sense of monetary values.
  4. Tailor-made tutoring for adults means being active at eye level with the other person. An exciting discourse can arise with adult tutoring students. In contrast, conversations with children often “suffer” from age-related superficiality.


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