I have been fortunate enough to be able to tutor in my home.  I feel so blessed to have my own office within my home as well.  BUT, tutoring in your home can be difficult…I have three boys.  As you can imagine, my home does get loud from time to time.  They also have sports, cub scouts, and piano to be involved in.  I have been tutoring in my home since my oldest was a baby, they've never know their mother to not tutor.  I know that there are other tutors out there that are in the same situation or have a desire to tutor, but their own children cause them to hesitate about starting a tutor business.

Just like a budget is good for your finances, so is a schedule for your family.  You have to make time or set aside time for your family.  Today, I thought I would share what has worked for me and my family.

Tutoring with Babies:

Having wee ones can be so trying when you are tutoring, like I said though…my kids have never known me to not tutor.  I decided that tutoring middle school students was optimal because where I live, they get out of school around 3:00 pm.  I molded my babies nap schedule so that they were asleep when my first tutor student came. Here is a sample of what my schedule looks like:

3:00 pm :  First student
4:00 pm:  Second student
4:30 pm:  Baby wakes up/snack play time
5:00 pm:  Second student goes home
5:15 pm:  Make dinner and eat with family
6:30 pm :  Third student
7:30 pm:  Fourth student
8:30 pm:  Help get kids to bed

My babies would wake up around 4:30 from their nap and I would be half way done with my second student.  I then would give my student a task to work on and quickly go get my baby out of bed.  I did both breast feeding and bottle feeding, so I would give my baby a bottle or a snack if they were eating solids.  Bouncy seats, swings, and play pens are a life saver!  They would bounce away while they are happy right after their nap.  If they were mobile, I would have all their toys out in the room next to my office.  I only had to keep them happy for a half hour and then it was time for my student to go home.  At 5:00 pm, I would make dinner and eat with my family.  Tutoring started again at 6:30 pm and continued until 8:30 pm.  I couldn't do any of this without the support of my husband.  He often would take the kids on a walk after dinner or to the park.  The house was usually quiet!

Tutoring with Toddlers:

Terrible twos and threes…oh my.  Let me pause while I soak in those memories. {pause….}  In my home, I limit TV.  I would reserve TV for my tutoring days.  Usually, my two year old would wake up during my first student's tutoring session.  I would quickly grab the snack I had ready ahead of time and then turn on the TV.  They get one hour (I know…don't judge!)  They knew to turn it off when I asked them to.  Then it was play time while I finished tutoring.  Our play room was next to my tutor room, so I could hear if it was too quiet…you know what that means–two year old shenanigans!  I taught my children to come into my office and whisper if they needed anything, they usually didn't need much though at this age.

I am a firm believer in time out.  If they come into the office too frequently, then I take them up to their room for some time alone.  If the session was so disruptive, I give the money back to the student and tell them it's free this time.  My youngest son pushed the limits when he was two and three.  He spent a lot of time in his room. It took him about two months to learn that I could not have him wandering into my office any time he wanted me.  Being firm goes a long way!  Hang in there…this is the toughest stage!

Tutoring with School Age:

By the time my children got to this age, they were deep into the routine that I was tutoring.  My children are very self sufficient and are able to get themselves a snack.  I also have them doing their own homework at the kitchen table.  If they have problems, they are allowed to interrupt once during tutoring.  They are highly motivated to get that homework done because they only get video games on the days I tutor.  I also have consequences in place if they interrupt too frequently.  After tutoring is over, I review their homework and we fix anything that I found wrong.

In my old neighborhood, a lot of the families had two parents working.  Lots of the kids in the neighborhood were at daycare and couldn't play until after dinner, so having friends over wasn't a problem.  This summer we moved to a different neighborhood where most of the kids have at least one parent home or an older sibling.  My doorbell…rings…all..the…TIME!  I am beyond frustrated.

I decided it was time to train the neighborhood kids about tutoring.  I know that may seem awkward, but really, think of it as an opportunity to let your neighbors know that you tutor.  They'll probably use you at some time!  I made a sign that asks them to please not ring the doorbell.  When they see the sign on my door, they need to turn around and head home to call my children.  My children are old enough to answer the phone.  If my children have their homework done, they are welcome to play as long as they tell me where they are going.  They can invite others over as long as they are not too rambunctious.

You may be wondering how I fit in extracurricular stuff with my own children.  Here is how I plan my time:

  • Mondays:  Family night.  No tutoring.
  • Tuesdays:  I tutor late into the evening.  My husband steps up by helping out tremendously!
  • Wednesdays:  Early morning piano.  Homework Clinic from 3-5pm.  No tutoring after that.  We do scouts this night.
  • Thursdays:  Tutor from 3-5 pm.  No tutoring after that.  Usually basketball practice lands on these nights.
  • Fridays:  Date night with my husband/my boys.  I love taking my boys out by themselves.  One on one time is so important!
  • Saturdays:  Special circumstance tutoring (like a final on Monday) allowed as long as it fits within our schedule of games and chores.
  • Sundays:  No tutoring.  Church and time with family.

With a schedule like this, I am able to help about 10 students.  Homework Clinic fluctuates, so I don't count that number.  You may be wondering how you can fit in even more students.  I suggest doing stagger tutor sessions to help you maximize your tutor time and income.

Tutoring with Teenagers:

I don't have teenagers…yet (eeks) but I know how crazy their schedule can be.  A good friend of mine coached me through what that looks like as they get older.  She said to always be straight forward with your students and let them know that your family comes first.  If her child was stranded, she would end quickly and call the parent to come pick the student up.  Of course she reimbursed their money so that she could go help her child.  Her example was that her son was at tennis practice and a huge lightning storm came on suddenly.  She knew he didn't need to be out there!  She dropped everything and went to get him.

One side benefit of running your own tutor business is that you come to rely on other parents which builds community.  Find ways to set up carpools, but make sure to take your turn by setting aside a day that you can help out.  For example, I  help on Mondays or Fridays because I don't tutor that day.  Don't be afraid to let your children gain some independence.  It's acceptable to let them ride a bike home if you don't live far or get them a bus pass if that means you can have more uninterrupted time tutoring.

Do you have the neighbor problem too?  Download your own free door sign below!

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