The grandchildren always come to you for advice. It’s something that has happened as far back as you can remember. In fact, you used to help their parents – your children – with their homework and now you find yourself as the walking, talking encyclopedia whenever the little ones are around.
Tutors in demand
You’re a senior full of knowledge and you are only too willing to share it with the family but have you ever considered turning that knowledge into a money making opportunity? I’m talking about tutoring. There’s a huge demand for it and who better to hire on to help with a project, homework or whatever than someone who’s been there, done that and has the t-shirt to prove it?
Pick a topic
So I’ve piqued your interest. But what are you good at? If you failed math all through your school years and still can’t balance a checkbook without the assistance of a calculator and a math student, you may not want to focus on tutoring in that subject. But suppose you are a pretty decent piano player, or you are a whiz at world history or math, those are talents you can turn into a successful tutoring business. Even teaching English as a second language or simple computer skills like setting up an e-mail account brings value to your knowledge.
Who are your clients?
Here are some things to consider once you decide which skill you plan to use for tutoring. You will need to decide what age group you want to target. If you have a skill that may be age specific, that part will be figured out for you. You’ll need to figure out what ‘zone’ you plan to offer your services to such as just in your neighborhood, community or region. How far are you willing to travel to tutor and how many clients are you prepared to take on? These factors will play a large part in figuring out what to charge clients. Travel costs should be included in your hourly rate. Introductory rates may be a good way to start, but don’t charge so little you spend all your profit on gas getting to the next violin lesson.
Then the fun part begins. The part I like to call ‘spreading the word’ and that can be done in so many ways. You can advertise in the local newspaper, post flyers, post listings on various online advertising sites, speak to the local school board and tell all your friends in any of the social activity groups you may belong to. The goal here is to let others know you are now in the tutoring business and looking for clients.
When you start interviewing prospective clients you’ll need to be prepared. If you are teaching science for example, you’ll want to have a solid lesson plan developed with certain goals built in for the student to reach before moving forward in the lesson. You should be able to find all kinds of resources online to assist with designing lesson plans, but that is what you’ll need to use as the foundation of your tutoring program.
Have a plan
The parents you’ll be discussing little Johnny’s requirement with will be expecting that you have a plan and if you get their business they’ll be expecting you to follow that plan. They can also help you design the plan to target some of Johnny’s specific problems. You may even want to discuss Johnny’s problems/progress with his school teachers, but be sure you have his family’s permission to do so. You may be able to work with teachers by enhancing what they are already teaching and they may also provide you with leads of other students needing some extra help. That is, if you can fit them into your crazy, busy tutoring schedule.
Think about the details before you start
Once you secure your first contract you’ll need to discuss details such as invoicing and payment. This is where the business part of your tutoring business kicks into gear. After all, you want this to be business-like so it will have to have all the elements of one. Once little Johnny’s family agree to your terms and all parties have agreed on what the lesson plan will look like, you are pretty much on your way.
When you have your first session with the student you can set some ground rules and that should be similar in format to a regular classroom. It’s your show, but you will want to outline what is expected of each student from attendance to homework and all parts in between.
The ground rules will also apply to you as you’ll have to keep focused and stick to your lesson plan. Some students may move quicker than others so you may need to adjust your pace, but that should be easy if you are tutoring them in different locations. If you stay organized, you should be able to handle any situation and if the subject you chose to tutor with is one you are very well versed in, you’ll also be able to improvise where needed.
Other considerations to keep in mind include keeping track of hours with each student for proper invoicing and there are a number of online tools that can assist with this and be sure to include a cancellation policy as part of your tutoring contract. You may never have to use it but it provides you with a safety net if there is a client that is always late or habitually cancels. Also get a complete list of contact information in case of emergency. Again, it may never be used, but in case you need it, it will come in handy.
Teaching is an honorable profession. Being able to use your talents and share them in a tutoring situation is not only a great way to keep active as a senior, it provides value to your years and can earn you some extra money to allow you to visit the grandchildren more often who gave you the idea in the first place. If you ‘re ready to get started, there are dozens of good books about the tutoring business listed at Amazon.com