To pay or not to pay? That shouldn’t be an option!

To pay or not to pay? That seems to be the question!


Sadly, getting people to pay for the tutoring they have received can be like getting blood out of a stone.

When I started tutoring I was naive and presumed if I did the work, especially if I put my heart and sole into it, people would pay me what I was owed. (I have said on many occasions I had no business knowledge or experience when I started tutoring).

Now I have contracts in place which are given to new starters. These clearly outline what we charge and when/how we expect to be paid. We also have a clear cancellation policy.

The “Payment Policy” is available for you to use or adapt for yourself in the Starr Tutoring Association Membership Group. They don’t need to be long and formal. Maybe they’re better if they’re not. They just need to clearly get the message across.

You can download the “Cancellation Policy” here:


Cancellation Policy


Is it a sign of disrespect when parents don’t pay?

I think it is. It may not be personal but you wouldn’t expect any other service to be provided for free or to pay for it as and when you feel like it without some sort of consequence being applied.


When I first started tutoring I went to a family who paid cash.

It is quite amazing how many excuses one person can have for not having any cash on them:

I haven’t had chance to go the cash point

I left my purse in my boyfriend’s car

The dog has been poorly so I didn’t go out.

These were 3 of her most common excuses not to pay.


Recently I’ve been in discussion with a family over the payment terms. They started before the policies were created. She felt a month was a satisfactory length of time to pay. The invoices say 5 days.


These days I believe we are better off without families who don’t pay when asked the amount asked.

If you are struggling with people who don’t pay, fire them!

It’s actually quite therapeutic, even if terrifying!

At first the fear of the reduction in your income is difficult to overcome. However, they’re not paying you anyway so you have nothing to lose. It also means you can replace that family with another family who does pay you the amount asked and on time.

It took me along time to gain this attitude, but without it any company will drown.


Many tutors ask for payment up front. They may offer a discount if a group of lessons is paid for in advance. This is a great option as the family feel they are getting a bargain. You are not having to play catch up with payments each time/ week/ month.


Don’t let the question “To pay, or not to pay?” be the option for the families you work with.

Get policies in place from the start.  It’s never too late to start if you haven’t. If you don’t families with this sort of mentality will destroy your company and all the hard work you have put into it.


If you want help growing your tutoring company why not join us in our Facebook group “The Tutor’s Group” where you will find myself and other tutors to chat to. You will find motivation and support.



It’s all in the preparation

It’s all in the preparation

For just over 12 years I was married to a perfectionist.

We would move into a house that needed updating and he would set to work. He would spend hours preparing each room ready for him to decorate. I would be eager to get on with the stuff that showed rather than the bits that no one would ever see.

Yet when he had finished the room would be amazing, there wouldn’t be an imperfection anywhere. He always said it was the preparation that made all the difference.


Tutoring can also benefit from this logic.

There will always be a dramatic difference in the quality of a lesson between someone who turns up and bluffs their way through the hour and someone who has planned the lesson in advance, taken the time to prepare resources which are relevant to the child’s learning style, interests and needs.


If you ant to grow a successful tutoring business it will always be the tutor who is better prepared that will impress the parents more.

This will be the tutor whose reputation will grow quicker.

The tutor who has put more effort in will always see the benefits. They will be the ones who carry out a lesson where the imperfections are difficult to see.


This preparation can start long before you ever meet the family though. Think about who that person is that you want to tutor and when you are creating the marketing (Facebook posts, blogs, images, etc) for your business talk to that person. Think about the type of language you need to use, think about the type of image you need to create to capture their attention.

Be careful though not to get too caught up in the planning. The preparation that you never start the implementation of the action.


Below is the outline of the lesson plan that I use. Feel free to edit and use it as you see fit.


sample lesson plan generic


Choosing my top 10 resources

I’ve spent the last few days creating a resource bundle for the Starr Tutoring Association.

Going through the different resources I use made me realise what I huge library I had put together over the past 6 years.

I explain why I think using a range of resources is important in the “Learning needs to be fun to be effective” blog if you want to read it.

Because there were so many to choose from I’ve picked my top 10 resources that I use for language and spellings.


The first I chose was “The 5 Minute Challenge”.


The page is divided into 4 columns and approximately 10 to 12 rows.
In the first column of each row you place a heading such as: synonyms for happy or words ending in ed.
To play the game you have a copy of the sheet each.
Against the clock you both try to fill as many of the boxes as you can.

When the time’s up, pens go down and you compare answers.

This game is great for getting children used to working against the clock and thinking of three different words that would suit each category.


Another game I chose was “Funny Pictures”


You start with a blank strip of paper.
The first person starts by drawing a head on the top third and bending the piece of paper over so that the other person can’t see what has been drawn.
They then attach a body to the bottom of the neck, fold the piece of paper and hand it back to the first person.
The first person the draws the legs and feet.
When the paper is opened out you are left with a fairly “wacky” picture of a person.

The task now is to think of as many ways as you can to describe the image.
(You can’t alter the image once it has been opened out).
Although drawing is a major feature of this game, it doesn’t need to be a excessive skill.


Making and solving word searches are other great games for practicing spellings.


When I first started tutoring I was told not to use word searches with dyslexic children by one of the leaders of a course I was doing.
To be fair, I have found that many dyslexic children enjoy doing word searches and are better than most at them. Maybe that’s just a coincidence, but like everything else, as long as it is tailored to the needs of the child, I don’t think anyone should be excluded.


The Board Game

Another game I have recently started using (but isn’t mentioned in the bundle as I had already agreed the target of 10 that I had set myself before I thought this would be worth mentioning) is what I call the board game.

Start with a blank A4 (or bigger) piece of paper and choose 3 different coloured pens.
Using each colour draw 6 shapes (or pictures which are relevant to the interests of the child) around the page:

Then think of 6 fairly simple forfeits:

  • miss a go,
  • have another go, etc and write them down on the board.


To play the game you both choose a colour.
Using my example, I will be green, you can be gold.
You can start wherever you like on the board.
The first person rolls the dice and moves that number of squares in any direction. You can’t change direction half way through a roll: you can’t turn around and come back on your-self.
If you land on a green, I will need to take a word from the pile and spell it, answer another question, read another page, etc.
If you land on gold you would have to spell another word, read another page, answer another question…
Should you land on a forfeit (in this instance the yellow star), roll the dice again.
The number you roll dictates the forfeit you have to do.


I’ve enjoyed creating this bundle and I look forward to creating one which better associates with maths games. Though every game in this bundle I’m sure can be easily adapted. Just ask me if you want some inspiration on how.

I’ve loved making the images. I’m not artistic. I can draw a stick person and be asked what it is. I’m learning to be creative.

If you want to download the “Resource Bundle” it can be accessed through the Starr Tutoring Association.

This is something I have recently started to help you and others grow and expand successful tutoring businesses, using what I have learned at Starr Tutoring to help you.
I have made many mistakes over the years, but every time I have learned from them. That’s what I hope is important. No one is perfect but if I can improve just 1% every day, by the end of the year I will be 356% better than I was at the start of the previous year.

I want to become the best tutor that there is and I want to take you with me.


Work together to be the best tutors


  • A new training bundle will be uploaded every month, which has videos as well as notes and often downloads to help you to implement the various things into your business.


  • You will also have access to special needs and safeguarding experts should you ever need their support in your work.


  • You can also join our growing community of tutors to support and guide each other. By supporting each other we can make sure that when people are looking for tutors, they come across someone like you who is committed to doing a fantastic job in helping them gain the knowledge they need.


The membership group is just £27/month.

I have kept the price low, not because I question the value I think you will receive from it, but because I want it to be available to as many people as possible.

To join, just simply click on the link below (you can leave at any time there is no minimum stay contract) and I hope you find loads of value from the resources that you find there.

See you there soon.

What would the best tutor do?

What would the best tutor do?


Could this thought help you grow your tutoring business?

I’ve just finished creating the resource bundle for the “Starr Tutoring Association” membership group.


It’s been eye opening.


When I first decided to make this bundle, I thought I would be able to mention every resource that I use.
It soon became apparent that I actually have a huge number of resources that I use.


Because over the past 18 years I have learned that there are a huge number of benefits to using a range of resources. (I won’t go into this in detail as I talk about it in other blogs).

When I started tutoring, I had no idea what was expected of me. A friend and I brainstormed what we thought would be expected from a tutor.

That was over 6 years ago.

In that time, I have built up a team of tutors and a successful tutoring company.

The main thing that has changed is when I first started I asked: “What would be expected of a tutor?”


Now I ask: “What would be expected of the very best tutor?”


Could this thought help you grow your tutoring business?

This is the philosophy I run the business by and it seems to work. We always have a waiting list and the feedback myself and the other tutors receive has been amazing.

For that I am truly grateful to them.


The tutors at Starr Tutoring are amazing!


So, in answer to question: “What would the best tutor do?” these are what we do at Starr Tutoring:

  • Every lesson is tailor made for the needs of the individual child
  • It is planned in advance and the parents are given access to this plan if required
  • We always travel to the tutee so that we can offer a face to face service in an environment where the child is comfortable and relaxed
  • We offer praise and encouragement
  • Building confidence is as important to us as building knowledge. We believe these go hand in hand anyway.
  • We approach every lesson with a smile
  • Politeness and customer service is paramount
  • We take our shoes of when we go into someone’s house. Trivial but shows we respect them and their property.
  • We take the time at the end of every lesson to talk to the parents about what we have done and the progress that has been made.
  • Each week we send an email out (to anyone that wants it) offering techniques on how to support a child with English and maths at home.
  • We also acknowledge that everyone learns differently and has different interests, so the resources that we provide reflect and embrace that.

Although this isn’t everything we offer it’s a start.

But the philosophy of ensuring the resources suit the needs of children from 5 to 16 and adults as well, with a range of interests, learning styles, strengths and weaknesses has created a huge library of resources.


The images show just some of the 10 resources I have placed in the resource bundle.


My goal is to support other people in building successful tutoring businesses.


There is a huge demand which is constantly growing for great tutors. I can’t support as many people as I would like individually.


That is why I created the membership group.

My intention is that it becomes the best online support group for people who are wanting to start or expand their own tutoring companies.


I have kept the price down to just £27/month so that it is accessible to all.
There is no commitment to stay and you can cancel your membership at any time.
If you want to join us, click on the link below:



I have made a lot of mistakes over the past 6 years since I started Starr Tutoring but I have learned from them.
I have made a lot of costly mistakes in that time, hopefully I can prevent you from making the same ones.

Learning and reading, growing and improving have been forefront in my mind.

I want to be the best tutor there is.
I want to help you share that position with me.


Work together to be the best tutors

In the membership group you will, amongst other things: receive a new training bundle each month and have access to experts on special needs support and safe guarding children.

I will pass on to you everything I have learned so that tutors who are passionate and care are the ones who are found by the parents seeking support.

To join a growing movement of exceptional, committed tutors click on the link below:


Create an effective lesson plan


Create an effective lesson plan pinterest


Creating a successful lesson is down to thorough planning.

My ex-husband is a perfectionist when it comes to DIY and he used to spend hours, clearing, cleaning, preparing before he would start work. He claimed the only way to have a professional finish was to put the time and effort into the preparation.
Creating a successful lesson, I believe is the same.

When you plan the lesson, you need to be clear about what it is you want to achieve.

How are you going to achieve this?

As you probably know, I am a strong believer that you will need to use a variety of resources in order to thoroughly ensure the student is able to recall the information when it is required.
(I will be ensuring, creating a “Resources Bundle” a priority in the Starr Tutoring Association Membership Group when it goes live).

Start by breaking your lesson down into chunks.

Allow a couple of minutes at the beginning to let the student know what you will be working on and the resources you have prepared to achieve this.
You may want to give them the choice of which resource you start with.
Then, when planning the lesson, allow some time at the end to go over what you have done and ask the child if they are happy they now understand it or if they want to spend some more time on it. You may feel they need a bit longer and will suggest accordingly.

Then break the rest of the lesson into smaller chunks.

If there are (for example) 4 activities you have planned to support their learning you might allow 12 minutes for each. You may decide that writing a descriptive piece of writing will take longer than the resources you have prepared to think of initial descriptive words to use. Therefore you, will no doubt allow different lengths of time for each individual task.

Always under estimate how long a task will take so you have more resources prepared than you will need. You don’t want to anticipate something taking 15 minutes and it only takes 5 leaving you stranded 10 minutes before the lesson is due to finish.

When writing my lesson plan (I have attached a template that can be downloaded if you wish) I note how long I predict something will take in the first column.

I next state what the activity is and any resources you may need to complete it.

This has proven incredibly important over the years especially if you aren’t working in your own home or in a setting which has equipment available for you to use.

In the next column I allow space to explain what my objective is for creating this task. For example, if I am doing a descriptive piece of writing with a child the first task I may do is to ask them to think of 8 words to describe the picture (or whatever it is we are describing). They will then use these words to create a word search for me to solve and I will do the same for them.

I have found that by doing warm-up exercises like this the student is better able to be inspired.

I compare it to someone saying: “What shall we talk about?” and you can almost guarantee your brain goes blank. Given something solid makes the start so much easier.
Many writers state that putting the first word on a piece of paper is the hardest. These warm up activities, provide that first word.

I normally make it my principle to send this plan to the parents in advance.  This keeps them in the loop as to what their child is studying with you (what they are spending their money on). Some parents, say you don’t need to worry about it and that is fine.

It also means that if the child/ parent changes their mind about what they want the focus to be on, it will give you chance to prepare alternative/ appropriate resources in advance rather than being unprepared when you arrive at the lesson.

I hope this has proven helpful.

If you want more ideas on starting / expanding your own tutoring company why not join us in the “Tutor’s Group”. The Tutor’s group is our Facebook group where tutors can come together and share ideas.

We will shortly be opening the “Starr Tutoring Association” which will offer a paid platform (£27/month) where you will receive, amongst other things; training bundles and support from experts to help you grow your business. For more details click on the link below.

Click here for the sample lesson plan template that you can adapt to suit your own tutoring needs.

Create an effective lesson plan button