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



How marketing for your tutoring business is like a game of “Guess Who”

Focusing your marketing is like a game of “Guess Who”.  You probably remember the game from your childhood. You have a board with rows of faces ready to be eliminated as you try to work out who your opponent’s person is that they have chosen.

When you are deciding who it would be appropriate to send it out to, the more you can ask questions and eliminate those you don’t want to tutor the more effective your marketing spend will be.

Some of the questions you may need to ask as you try to find your ideal market:

What does this person need support with?

It’s pointless sending out a generic message to all those looking for a tutor; at the very least you need to state the subject(s) you are able to support.

Is your speciality a language, a science, maths, English, humanities or something completely different like a musical instrument, dance or craft?


The next question you might apply is:

What level of support does this person need?

Initially keep this fairly focused. You can always branch out at a later date. The more precise you can be the fewer resources you will need to source/ create.

When I first started tutoring I stated I could support children in Key stage 1 and 2 with Maths and English. This was already 4 lots of resources I potentially had to create. I quickly expanded onto Key Stage 4 which then as a matter of course quickly incorporated Key stage 3. Now I had the potential of having to create 8 separate sets of resources and as no 2 people are alike the odds were that was a minimum. I used to sit up into the early hours of the morning creating resources which were appropriate to the needs of that child.

Make life easy for yourself and stay focused. The more focused you can be, the more likely it is that the resources you create can be used for more than one person.

Over the years this catalogue of resources has proved priceless, but when I first set out I was making life very difficult for myself….

Just by focusing in on these 2 questions I have vastly reduced the number of people who will pay attention to my marketing.


Where will the lessons take place?

I have written an e-book on this, highlighting the benefits and disadvantages of the available options. It can be downloaded via the knowledge centre and it is also available via “The Starr Tutoring Association”.

If someone is looking for a tutor to come to their house and you are intending to work as an online tutor, this is not someone you need to appeal to in your marketing. Considering this question when focusing your marketing will save you time and ensure the people who do get in touch are definitely relevant potential tutees.


Another question to pose is:

If someone is travelling (you or the tutee) how far would they be willing to travel?

It seems obvious that if someone needs to travel you do not need to create a national advert.


Like with the game “Guess Who” there are so many questions you can ask to narrow down to that one person who counts. I will go into them in far more detail in the training bundles in the “Starr Tutoring Association”.

As you write your post/ profile/ etc. answer these questions as you speak directly to the person you want to tutor. The more you can do this and explain how you can help them in doing so the more likely it is that the right person will be in touch.

If you want more information on the “Starr Tutoring Association” click here for more details.



Important tips on becoming a tutor


In the following paragraphs I will walk you through the reasons I started Starr Tutoring and the steps that I have taken to get us to where we are today. A company I started in 2012 to earn a bit of extra cash, to a company which is now a small team of tutors across Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire and Oxfordshire.


I hope you find this helpful.

In February, 2012 I knocked on the door of the very first person I would ever tutor.

To say I was terrified was an understatement. Things were already off to a bad start. The mum had told me that it was the cottage at the end of the lane, I thought I’d come to the end of the lane, parked up, walked to the door, plucked up all my courage and knocked. The lady who answered clearly wasn’t expecting me and sent me on my way.

I climbed back in the car, contemplated driving home and quitting before I made a bigger foul of myself and drove off… to the house at the end of the lane.

A couple of months previously I had been on a course at a local college to qualify to teach adults in a college classroom situation. Following the recent separation from my husband I had taken a job that didn’t inspire me and I was miserable at work. I needed a change and this course, I hoped would provide that.

It did, but not in a way I ever imaged.

A couple of weeks into the course, a lady who I sat near suggested I had a go at tutoring. It wasn’t something I’d ever considered and although my degree and much of my working life had been spent working in and learning about childcare and education, I wasn’t a qualified teacher. I didn’t think I would ever be able to make a go of it.

But the power of persuasion (on her part) and my need of a change gave me the kick into gear that I needed.

One Sunday evening when my children were at their dad’s house I sat down at the computer and went onto one of the national tutoring websites and entered my details. It went something like this:


Hi, my name is Dawn and I have a degree in childcare and education. For the past 16 years I have worked in educational settings; both mainstream and with special needs children…


That was my first mistake. My profile was identical to everyone else’s. There was nothing there to make me stand out.

With the benefit of hindsight this is something I feel quite strongly about, that it should be done properly. It’s no good just telling people about yourself .You need to state how your qualities will help to support the person you tutor.

I write more on this in the “Tutor’s Group” My online platform to support people in becoming successful tutors.

My next mistake was that I only charged £10/hour. Rightly or wrongly people presume they will get what they pay for, by charging just £10/hour I was unintentionally saying that I lacked the ability or the right to charge more.

As soon as I started to increase my rates (which I have continued to do ever since) the work started to flow in.

As a company we are valued much more by the parents and I believe we value ourselves much more.


That national website was effective in getting me started. However, it quickly became apparent that my own website would be hugely beneficial.

The national website I had first registered on was free for tutors but expensive for parents to contact the tutors, putting many parents off getting in touch. I was losing valuable prospective families.

The next step on my tutoring journey had to be to create my own website: it needed to be somewhere that the parents could contact me for free.

It was basic, but I hastily filled it with testimonials from the families that I had supported. This created trust.

I also made sure it was SEO friendly so that if anyone was looking for a tutor in the local area, they stood a good chance of finding me.

At this stage I wasn’t on Facebook and I had no idea about Google Adwords,

Immediately the phone started ringing, not with potential parents; that came slightly later. These initial phone calls were from companies offering me a page 1 slot on Google.

If you take nothing else away from this please take this one thing:


Don’t say yes to these. If you do, read the small print very, very carefully.


This is my reason why:

I was phoned by a company one morning offering me a first page place on Google. He walked me through all the advantages and stated for the first 6 months it would have an introductory price of £200 (approx.). In my eagerness to get the company up and running I agreed to proceed.

6 months later they were back on the phone. Because I hadn’t cancelled the contract I was now obliged to pay £15k upfront for the next year’s subscription. I explained I wasn’t in a situation to hand that money over, but agreed that if I was legally obliged to pay it, I would do it in monthly instalments of £300.

They proceeded to take the first instalment then from my credit card. At this point Barclaycard phoned to check I had authorised this payment. Yes, I had authorised 1 payment of £300. That afternoon the company proceeded to repeatedly take individual instalments until they had taken over £12 thousand pound from my card!

I did get the money back but it took over a year.

I had to chase them through the small claims court but when the bailiffs went round, the company had gone, and there was nothing more they could do.

It was Barclaycard which finally reimbursed me, not because they had allowed the company to take repeated payments from my card but because the company had mentioned they would provide me with a website (which I didn’t need) they never provided. This meant they had breached their contract and I was entitled to a full refund.


I’ve learned my lesson since then.

Over the coming years I have become dedicated to learning: how to grow a business and how to improve the support we offer to the people we tutor.

I listen to audio books when I’m in the car, I read obsessively on the subject.

The number 1 thing you will need to consider is why should a parent choose you over any one else? What makes you special? What is it that will make your business grow and help you to grow an amazing reputation as the go to tutor in your subject and local area?

My aim is to continue to take Starr Tutoring on its voyage of success across the country. Becoming the number one company to go to when looking for a tutor, who build confidence and knowledge through a wide range of teaching resources.

Whilst taking Starr Tutoring on this journey, I want to support other tutors in building successful tutoring businesses of their own through “The Tutor’s Group ” or through joining us at Starr Tutoring.


I have been told I ought to expand on this and support others in the pages of a book, so I will, until then if you want more help why not join us in “The Tutor’s Group” Facebook page or find out more about what we offer in the Starr Tutoring Association