How do you introduce yourself to (younger) students?

Hi fellow tutors! This topic might be similar to the ‘first lesson’ one, but I am specifically interested in the ‘getting to know’ phase of the lesson. Do you do anything specific to introduce yourself? Do you ask the students about themselves, their hobbies, etc. before you get started?

In my language lessons, I sometimes use ‘2 Truths and a Lie’ where everyone writes down three facts about themselves and then we try to figure out which one is untrue. (Helpful because I can also start to assess language level at the same time.) Do you have any similar games or approaches?
Specifically with younger students (8-12), how do you start to build that connection?

I am speaking to a mother who wants her child to start lessons, but the child apparently isn’t very enthusiastic. She wants me to make the lesson ‘extra fun’ so the child wants to come back.


I always make it clear to parents that the first lesson is a getting to know each other lesson. We read a bit , write a bit and talk about things they are interested in and why they think they are having a tutor and what they think they are going to learn.We play some silly word games. We lay down some ground rules.
1, You come with a smile
2 You can bring a drink and a snack (but not your dinner).
3. You tell me is something is too hard or you are struggling.
4.You di the bit of homework I give you.

In return
I have a reward system agreed with parents.
I find things they will enjoy doing.
I come with my smile too.
I help you when you are stuck and you will never be in trouble for finding something hard or getting it “wrong”.
I spend the last 5 minutes talking to parents and suggesting what I think we should focus on. I send them an email with a bit of a plan.



I like to do assessments and I make this clear from the start. I also explain what we will do on classes. Would they like to do school prep or for me to prepare the lessons. Each lesson you learn a bit about them so I like to add things they like into the lesson. I do all subjects so I like to include hobbies it always makes it fun! We also play games educational ones of course. I also like to set timers makes it fun and competitive which some of my students love to beat the timer. Hope this helps!!

Sana :grinning:


Great ideas, @MrsP and @sanak_tutor!

I like the idea of setting some ground rules for students in the first lesson and especially the emphasis on not being worried about getting things wrong. Some students apologise every time they make a mistake at the beginning, and it takes them a while to realise that it’s okay to get it wrong. I often use a phrase along the lines of ‘if you got it all right, I’d be out of a job’ which usually makes them smile.

I also use timers for some students. It can work really well with the more competitive children.


I always say something similar too!

I also explain that it’s okay if they get things wrong. We can work on it together and correct it rather than you have another one wrong. I also like to give lots of praise when they are doing well. I love the feedback at the end of lesson and also like to fill parents in every now and then. When I was going to students house pre covid I would have a chart on how they are doing and give them rewards every fifth or tenth visit.

Worked really well and would encourage them.


Sometimes I play an ‘icebreaker’ bingo where I ask them questions. Often the younger ones are shy, so I just try and put their mind at ease by asking them about themselves. Also, I try and encourage their imaginations because you can have a lot of fun with it! If they feel relaxed, they will enjoy it more (in my opinion).

I also used to (pre-Covid) use a reward system where they would get a prize after every ten stickers. It certainly helped their motivation!


Some great ideas here! I love the idea of using a timer @sanak_tutor & @KathrinS - I’d guess it depends on the child as to whether they’d respond to it but it took me back to my classroom teaching days with a child who lacked the motivation to complete work - introducing a timer made such a difference, he loved it! :hourglass_flowing_sand:

I noticed a few people have mentioned reward systems @MrsP , @sanak_tutor , @katywilson6 and wonder if you’ve found a way to adapt reward systems when teaching online? :thinking:Maybe something for us to start a new topic for and see what other tutors are doing?

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If a student has been struggling, I try and talk to the parent to see if we can devise such sort of reward system to help motivate them. It’s had mixed success so far!


For a younger child I want to connect so I find out about family and friends and introduce some basic language so that I can start to understand what they know and build on it . Lots of games with younger students Battleships etc.


@katywilson6 it’s funny that you mention bingo because I created a version of this for my student. I made it very colourful with the questions hidden (highlighted in the same colour as the writing), so am hoping the ‘secret message’ vibe will add an element of fun for the young girl.

@Manda I totally agree, finding out more about the child and maybe even some similarities (same preferences, same hobbies etc.) can really help and that’s what I’m hoping to do with my students.

Re - reward system: I’ve never really used one. The closest I have come to this is saying ‘the quicker we work through this, the more time we have for the game at the end’. I remember taking language classes as a kid and we never had any system (even when I started French aged 7), but maybe that’s because I was always a very motivated language learner. Something to consider for my more reluctant students.


Hi Rachel,

No sadly I haven’t come up with a reward chart for my online class but I guess this is something to think about. I have also done the timers which my students love as a beat the clock game and makes the time in the lessons more of a challenge.


These questions are really making me reflect on my work!

I am just really bubbly and friendly! No assessment unless it’s 11+ work.

No ground rules just a chat about what teddy they have brought with them and what they have been up to in the past week.

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That sounds nice, Kitty. The student I posted about earlier actually brought her cat to class, so we started out chatting about that. Nice to find these connections or similar points of interest with students!

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Hi Sanak_tutor

I like timers to! I use them for my SEN students and have colourful hourglass ones so they can turn it over when they are ready to go.

I use my phone timer for 11+ to put the pressure on a bit in timed tests.


Love this idea Kitty!

I must try with a timer for my 11 plus students I really think it’s effective.


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I find that as dealing with students from GCSE and above for mathematics, the general scenario for me is to quickly quash the idea of mathematics being dull, boring, difficult, horrible, etc. I explain to students and parents in the initial meeting that I potentially do things slightly differently to the school environment and I most certainly include history of mathematics material and underpin and derive certain important areas. I am also fully aware that passing the qualification / improving on grades is at the forefront of students and parents minds.

To try and put students at ease as much as possible, I always suggest the same three things, to every student I meet, about how our sessions work;

  1. Our sessions are one to one and are what I call a ‘Safe environment’ as no judgement will be taken to any responses or lack in ideas and understanding, etc. Therefore there is no need to worry about getting things wrong or being concerned about what I might think

  2. Getting things wrong is important and there is no negative view to be taken from this. The way we improve is by making misconceptions and addressing them going forward.

  3. I am not interested in correct answers as this doesn’t highlight understanding. I am far more interesting in seeing students trying to justify their own answers regardless of how correct they are.

I also suggest the four points below in terms of what I look for in terms of the teaching / learning mathematics:

  1. Mathematics is not the monochrome (black and white) wrong / right subject that it can be often portrayed as. It is very colourful - most importantly, there are several ways we can get to the same conclusions. This is key as no two students see things in the same manner and we will find the best methods that work most efficiently for that individual.

  2. For me it is imperative that students have the freedom to make their own perceptions of mathematics, not take on my perceptions of mathematics. I know how I see mathematics and I think it is important that we allow students to stand and look through the doorway and view make their own perceptions.

  3. I am interested in the Why? of mathematics and this is something that I feel I manage to instill in students going forward who find their confidence grown when facing other mathematical scenarios (e.g. at school) and they feel they can ask why? (ask for help or guidance). As the vast majority of my students state that they do not feel comfortable in questioning based on the responses they receive, etc.

  4. I much prefer to use a relational learning approach to an instrumental learning approach. However this does not mean and instrumental approach cannot be used providing it has been underpinned with the important relationships.

After our discussion, i always make some time to have a look at a particular part of mathematics that a student may have given as being problematic and try to instill some of my discussion points into practice while also trying to get a feel for how the student is as a base line (how comfortable, how confident, how happy, etc.)

I am aware that some of this is specific to mathematics but some points can be used generally in all subject areas!



Hi Liam, that sounds like a great approach! I agree that it’s especially important to show students that making mistakes is okay and they won’t be judged for it. Depending on their home life and other teachers, they may not be used to such an approach and be fearful of being wrong.

Hi In regards to online reward systems I found digital sticker books on the Teachers pay teachers site. I really like this idea
as the students get to actually collect their stickers from week to week.


[quote=“TeacherLette, post:18, topic:172, full:true”]
Hi In regards to online reward systems I found digital sticker books on the Teachers pay teachers site. I really like this idea
as the students get to actually collect their stickers from week to week.

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For younger students I always use the first lesson as a starter lesson. I like them to be used their musical instrument and used to me. I give plenty of praise in early lessons but encourage them that if they make a mistake it doesn’t matter. I try not to use ‘negative’ words like mistake or wrong and use ‘a little slip up’ and ‘making it sound different’ as alternate ways of feedback. During 1-2-1 lessons I always introduce stickers as a reward and as they begin to get older, this phases out. However, I am in the situation where I have 2 similar aged children and one I can be more ‘grown up’ with and the other is very much based on encouragement and continuous positive feedback.

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