Building Relationships with Your Online Student

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With everything that has happened over the past year, it’s not surprisingly to say that most tutors have switched to giving tuition online to maintain their career and secure their income. The past year has been a tough year collectively for the entire world, and one of the industries that took a large hit is the education sector. While some may think that switching to online tuition can be daunting and complicated, it is still better than risking the health of students, parents, tutors, and basically, everyone else.

However, while online platforms can be used to help tutors reach out and continue giving tuition to their students, it might not be the same as having to spend time with them as before. Many tutors and parents may have concerns on building a good relationship with their students now that they will be meeting virtually.

The virtual world of teaching may be a terrifying place but there’s still a way to build rapport and relate to your students to an emotional level the same way tutors can before. Fortunately, we’ve gathered some tips to build and strengthen the tutor and student relationship even when tuition is online.

Challenges of Distance Learning Emotionally and Socially

One of the perks of home tuition is the relationship built between the home tutor and the student. Though this relationship, they can build a camaraderie that will help both parties make tuition more effective.

But with recent events, there’s a gap as students and tutors can’t meet face-to-face. As a result, they’ve resorted to online tuition and distance learning. Like all things during the pandemic, these also have their respective challenges, especially in improving emotional and social learning.

1. Difficulty in casual conversation

Although tuition only lasts for an hour to an hour and a half, there is still some time for the student and tutor to interact casually and talk about trivial matters. This helps the student open up to the tutor and helps the tutor get to know the student’s interest to better build a teaching style to fit the student. Behind the screen, it’s another matter. Aside from the student may be embarrassed talking in front of a screen, there’s also the matter that informal conversations may become awkward during this time.

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2. No physical involvement

As home tuition isn’t as restricted as learning inside the classroom, tutors can incorporate activities that enables students to learn actively. This means there can be activities that sparks the students’ interest while still retaining the concepts they’re learning. Aside from activities sparking physical involvement with the students, these activities can also help strengthen the relationship built between the tutor and the student. However, since online tuition is virtual, there can be fewer physical activities to help make lessons more interesting.

3. No actual tutor presence

Students, may it be intentional or not, tend to give off signals or cues through their body language or facial expressions. Through these, tutors can grasp when the lesson or teaching method is working or may need revision. With every student’s nod, eyebrow furrows, or smiles, tutors can adapt the method and style according to what gives off a positive response.

For online tuition, tutors may have a harder time attending to these “cues”. Tutors may not properly see the student’s reactions or there can even be technological issues that can hinder the connection.

In addition to this, students may also feel lacking in a sense that there is no actual presence of a tutor since the tuition happens virtually. This can again cause an effect in building the connection between a student and a tutor.

Ways to Build a Strong Relationship with Your Online Students

Now that we’ve tackled about the hardships faced by tutors and students alike in building a relationship while in online tuition, let’s now take a look at the ways we can work around online tuition to still build a relationship with them.

Ease the student into the lesson

As online tuition can get very robotic through time, tutors shouldn’t be too eager to start the lesson after the call connects. Like in an actual tuition session, there should be an easing of the student into the lesson.

Start off by asking the students about their day or what have they’ve been up to. You can even ask them about the food that they ate. This will not only help the students get ready for the lesson, but can also start the student to open up more to the tutor, especially if it’s their first session with the tutor.

Give time to share about who they are

This relates to the first tip, especially if it’s the first tutoring session for the student. Set a time for them to speak about themselves the same way a tutor might during their first meeting if it had been face-to-face home tuition.

Let the student introduce themselves and talk about themselves in order for the tutor to also get to know them further. Since it’s also a virtual meeting, tutors can also incorporate new ways to get to know the student better regarding their personality and their learning styles and behavior.

There are many ways for the tutor to get to know the student even if it’s online. You can maybe ask them about their favorite character of the last movie they’ve seen and ask why they like that character. You can ask them to do video essays about their hobbies and interest. The tutor just has to think of ways to help the student come out of their shells and share to the tutor.

Open up to students

At the same time for the student to also start trusting and opening up to their tutor, the home tutor should also be as open as possible to their students. Students should also be able to know what their tutor is like and who you are as a person, not just a tutor.

Sometimes, students can find it uninteresting and dull to only learn from the materials sent by the tutor, without actually knowing who their tutor is or what are they like. Much like how tutors want their students to open up to them, students also may want the same.

A tutor can bond over with the student by also sharing their interests, likes, dislikes, and sharing snippets of the tutor’s life in general. Students will be much more interested if they know who they are interacting with and when they have a common ground, especially in interests.

Build a routine

Although online tuition happens virtually, it’s still important to build a routine with your student. One importance of this is to get your students to prepare for the tuition the same way they will also prepare during a face-to-face session. Just because tuition happens online doesn’t mean students should also be too lax.

Aside from that, you can still teach values such as time management and discipline even if it’s online. These are important values that students should learn that can benefit them in the long run.

Encourage updates from students

As important as it is in face-to-face tuition, tutors should also encourage their students to not hold back in asking questions. Tutors can set a schedule or even a part of the tuition session for students to ask questions or clear up confusions.

Additionally, they can also encourage students to check their progress at home and give updates also to the tutor. Tutors can also schedule a separate time or a means of communication to see if they may need more help or to clear up confusions, or even just to talk to someone.

Check in regularly

As in the previous tip and since building relationships happens both ways, tutors should also make it a point to also check on their students at the regular. If tutors want to maintain good camaraderie and a strong relationship with their students, they should let the student know that they can be available when needed.

By also setting a time to give feedback and clarifications, students will be able to understand that the tutor is readily available and approachable. As in the tip before, you can communicate through a schedule or an app both are familiar with to check and give updates.


With the recent turn of events, it’s safe to say that even after the COVID-19 pandemic, online tuition will be here to stay. As a tutor, there are measures you can take to adapt to this change and still deliver the best tuition to help your students improve.

However, there may be limits as to building an emotional and social foundation with your students because of the tuition happening virtually. This shouldn’t stop the tutors from trying and adapting different techniques they can still get closer to their students and strengthen relationships. We hope that the tips above can be used as a basis to evolve with the ever-evolving world. It’s important that although there isn’t a tutor present physically, students can still feel the connection and build rapport the same way with their tutors.

Interested in becoming a tutor? Check out FamilyTutor, Singapore’s best home tuition agency. We offer over 200 subjects to students ranging from pre-school all the way up to even beyond the university level.

New to the home tuition world? Check out our blog articles to help new home tutors.

New Home Tutors: Tips and Tricks

Qualities of a Great Home Tutor



Carelle is a teacher who has been through the ups and downs of the teacher and learner life. She wishes for every learner to gain educational satisfaction that will help embody the people they want to be in the future.

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About FamilyTutor!

FamilyTutor is an established home tuition agency in Singapore! We match suitable home tutors for our clients not just to improve the students' academic grades, but also to build a strong rapport and meaningful relationship with the students and even the their whole family. FamilyTutor put every student in good hands!

If you need an excellent home tutor, feel free to call/WhatsApp us at +65 8777-2168! Our matching service is free!

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