top of page
RefuNet logo

Teaching other subjects

Finding out what exam board the student is preparing for and then downloading the curriculum (normally available for free online) is often the best place to start.

Here are some general tutoring tips, see below for some free worksheets you can use.

Explaining and lecturing in tutoring

Explanations should be simple, clear and concise, especially because the student is likely to be studying in their second language. Lecturing should only be used when necessary - the aim is to help your student use the available resources to find a solution to the task, rather than you giving the answer. This will encourage your student to become a more independent learner.

Questions and listening in tutoring

It is often more effective to guide students in doing most of the explaining. This will reinforce their learning and help you to identify problem areas. Two of the key ingredients needed to encourage your student to give explanations are:

1. Posing questions

Ask open-ended questions. By posing open-ended questions that require more than a yes or no response, you encourage your student to start thinking.

- 'Where do you think we should start?'

- 'How can we define 'x'?'

Ask probing questions. Probing questions follow up on your student's contribution. Examples include:

- 'What made you think that?'

- 'What will happen if what you said is true?'

Rephrase questions. If your student doesn't understand a question straight away, try repeating it with a slightly different phrasing, perhaps adding a hint, breaking the question into smaller parts or changing the tone of your voice to emphasise key words.

2. Active listening

Listening to your student's response is harder than you may think. You need to slow down and concentrate on what your student is saying to consider:

- Are they grasping the concept?

- Can they explain it easily or does it take some effort?

- What does their body language suggest?

Summarising learning

Encouraging your student to give a summary of what they have learned is a good way to check understanding. They should include all the steps (where relevant) in their own words. Avoid moving on until the student can summarise the topic easily. 

Coping with silence

A common misconception of new tutors is that your student should always feel comfortable. Sometimes, 'comfortable' is not the best solution - waiting for a response to a question may get results, even if it can feel awkward. Because you as the tutor understand the information, you are much quicker in coming up with a response so it is often difficult for you to anticipate the amount of time your student needs to process the information. This technique is often uncomfortable for both the tutor and the student but if it is used sparingly and appropriately, your student learns to think critically and becomes more independent.

Positive reinforcement

Reinforcements help your student feel a sense of accomplishment, provide a reward and give students an incentive to do more. When using reinforcements, be sure to reinforce improvement without over-exaggerating your student's progress. The more specific you are about their progress, the better. Examples of positive reinforcement include:


- 'You are really doing much better at 'x'!'

- 'I like the way you did 'x'.'

- 'This looks better than the last time.'

- 'You have really been working hard at this.


- Facial expressions - smiling, looking surprised

- Nodding

- Thumbs up

Teaching resources:


Free worksheets for a range of subjects.


BBC Bitesize

Useful for looking up what students learn in each year and finding out how topics are taught at each level.



Free worksheets if you register.



Free worksheets if you register.

The science teacher

Lots of free science worksheets.


It’s really easy to find free maths worksheets for any topic by searching on google ‘[topic] worksheet pdf’.

bottom of page