Types of Students in Home Tuition

Students learn differently from one another. There are different ways in which one student’s learning styles and abilities vary from another. There are many factors that affect a student’s learning style or ability, be in be their upbringing, personality, or experience, it varies from student to student. As a home tutor, you will meet many students in your time and one will not be exactly the same as the other. Knowing what kind of student you will be teaching is crucial in formulating your style and method.

Once home tutors know exactly what kind of student they will be teaching, they will find understanding their struggles and difficulties easier and make certain adjustments with the lessons given.

In a class setting, most teachers adapt the teaching style that works for the majority of the students. Of course, this will provide other students with the learning they need. However, this doesn’t work for everyone. And one way or another, a student will be left behind certain lessons.

This is when most parents decide to hire a home tutor for their children. Since they will have struggles with learning or catching up in class, it is your duty as a home tutor to adapt your teaching style to their needs and what works best for them.

There’s no easy way to categorize students. However, there are generally six types of students you will meet in home tuition.

The Struggling Students

These students are the most common students a home tutor will meet during their time teaching. They are easier to recognize and the most obvious type of students. They have the characteristics such as the following:

  1. They find school difficult and have trouble understanding lessons.
  2. They are often left behind during lessons and have trouble catching up in the same pace as their peers learn
  3. They lack the confidence in their abilities in certain lessons and subjects

They are easier to identify and as such, easier to teach also. The most common reason for their struggles in a certain subject is that they lack the proper and strong foundation on it. As they haven’t fully developed understanding on a subject, whatever foundation they may have may crumble the moment they meet some parts of the next lesson too difficult for them.

There are a few things you can do as a home tutor to help these students:

  1. Go back to basics with them
  • As they have weak foundations in a subject, it’s best to go back to the most basic concepts and help them master it before moving on to the next. The problem with these students is that they have been rushed in ways they are not ready yet.
  1. Don’t rush them
  • In relation to the first tip, teach the students in a pace they are comfortable in. Do not rush them in learning. If you do, it will be no different than what they’ve done in schools. Take this as strengthening their building blocks. Once they are rushed, one wrong move might shatter everything already in place. If they are comfortable in their pace, they will also be confident in the skills and knowledge they will acquire over time.
  1. Teach understanding
  • In struggling students, it’s best to teach them understanding instead of teaching them steps. For example, in Math, teaching a student the concept of algebraic expressions and helping them understand the variables, such as what are their functions, will help them develop answers more so than teaching them the steps in solving it. With this, you’ll not only be teaching them expressions but also foundations for the next lessons.

With this in mind, it’s also helpful to talk with the parents first and inform them of the child’s struggles. Some parents wouldn’t understand firsthand and may think you’ll be making things worse by having their child be more left behind. Explaining to them the child’s lack of strong foundations and why he/she should understand the basics first would rectify this situation.

Progress may be slow at first but if you show them to the parents, they will understand that it’s necessary in the long run.

The Able but Unsure

These students, at first glance, will have many similarities to the struggling student. However, as a home tutor, we have to tackle first the reasons a student is struggling. You would be surprised how many students are actually able to perform well, however, they just lack the confidence to do so.

This is often a very disheartening case but also serves as an exciting challenge. These students are actually brilliant but they are unsure of their abilities and skills. Sometimes, even after completing tasks successfully, they still don’t believe they did well. Their lack of confidence may affect their performance in class.

Like the strugglers, these are the things you can do:

  1. Simple and basic
  • Like the strugglers, take them back to the basics. However, instead of teaching them things they don’t know like the strugglers, show them how much they already know.
  1. Introduce new concepts
  • Once you see that they’ve also managed to see their abilities, this is the time for you to introduce new concepts to them. Use the inquiry technique to get these students thinking, guide them in forming hypothesis, and later on, answers. Gradually reduce your support to them as their confidence grows. And then later, point out that they are doing the tasks on their own without your help.

Like the strugglers, explain and talk with their parents first. Help them understand the student’s struggles and how, even at home and outside the academe, they can also help in the student’s building his/her confidence.

Avoid too much praises also. This may be tempting to do as teachers of students doing well but they need to realize that their achievements are their own through the development of their confidence.

The Drifters

This is also a common type of student home tutors may encounter. They are students who are generally average but can do so much better. They are unnoticed in class because of their mediocre abilities. Most of these students have more potential to get better grades but they are contented with being average. They lack the drive to do better.

These students lack motivation. The very first step in tuition for them is to get them to talk. Learn from them. What are their interests? What drives them to study? What are the subjects they find disinterest in? By talking to them and knowing what interests them, you can formulate your lessons based on these.

As they lack motivation, lessons should pique their interests. Make them proud of their efforts in finishing a task. They will want feedback from adults as most students do, however, if properly done, they may feel their own sense of achievement without waiting for your feedback. Make them realize how much they can do more if they put their mind to it.

The Poor Learners

They are the most difficult type of student home tutors might encounter. They might be tricky to teach as they are students who have trouble learning. They are not students who struggle with fully understanding a concept – they never understood them in the first place.

This means that they have never developed the skills they need in studying. They might focus more on getting the right answers without actually understanding the lessons. The common problems they have in classrooms are as follows:

  1. They can’t concentrate in class
  2. They don’t engage in class
  3. They have trouble learning on their own
  4. They find it difficult to sit down and start working

The first step in dealing with these students is to talk to their parents. Parents usually want measurable progress such as grades and scores, however, we should also make them understand that soft skills such as concentrating or note taking is just as important. They should be able to understand that students will be taught to learn first rather than them getting good scores in exams.

Home tuition for these kinds of students will focus heavily on presenting the activity and discussing how to approach it. Talk to the student about techniques that will help them understand lessons, skills they can develop and use, and resources that will supplement them.

As such, home tutors should also empower the student to use the skills they’ve developed alongside the topics they are learning. Home tutors should also arm the students with techniques they can do to help them deal with being stuck such as asking teachers, peers, or using resources.

The Aspirational Able

These are the students who are already doing well in class but wants to up their level by getting top grades. Their parents also usually want them to achieve more and higher grades so they engage in a home tutor. Most of them are seeking to understand deeper a subject or want a specific exam guidance for huge examinations.

Find out their goals for engaging in private tuition beforehand and personalize your teaching based on this. Some students will have parents who want them to get more preparation for big exams. In this case, tuition will focus more on pre-assessment of their strengths and weaknesses and focusing on what they can still develop.

Others will want a deeper understanding of the subject. In cases such as, you can share your passion for the subject as a tutor and encourage them to think about their own interests and topics they also find fascinating.

Students with Special Educational Needs

This refers to students who have learning disabilities and require a specialist’s approach.

With students like this, talk with the parents first about the student’s conditions. Ask them about the diagnosis and ask them about the strategies the school and them have found to work best with the student. With this, you can use the strategies to build your lessons using them.

Additionally, do your research also. It’s better to be prepared and informed. Look up methods other teachers use or recommend.


Lumping students together will inevitably leave some students behind while others will be lost entirely. Understanding a student’s learning style and abilities put them in a better position for home tutors to help them.

As a home tutor, you must remember to cater to the student’s needs primarily. Make sure to communicate with the parents and explain to them your methods and how it will help the student. Remember to set a pace that’s comfortable with your student.

Every student learns differently. As a home tutor, it’s your responsibility to find out the best way they can.

Interested in becoming a home tutor? Check out FamilyTutor, the best home tuition agency in Singapore. We offer over 200 subjects to students from pre-school to even university-level. Want to hire a home tutor? Check out our rates and subjects offered!



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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