The Difference Between Tutoring and Coaching

     by Scott Lutostanski – Director of Academic Consulting

Here at Galin, we often get asked what is the difference between tutoring and coaching. This is an important question, and it’s one that parents need to understand when seeking out support in the academic arena.

First, let’s focus on the main objective of each. Tutors are focused on the content of classes; generally, this will be one specific course. For example, if a student needs help learning the material in Spanish or Calculus, a tutor can help teach, demonstrate, and review class content so that the student better learns in the course. They can focus in on specific information and help students better understand what’s being covered in class.

A coach has a more wide-reaching approach. Coaches work with students to improve the process of their learning, effectiveness, and productivity. By focusing on the process, coaches can help students make gains in areas like organization, planning, time management, and work completion. Coaches work to support students as they learn and develop lifelong skills that the students will need in many areas of life. Coaching can also help students with their confidence, self-esteem, and perception of school. Essentially, coaches are helping students learn how to learn, identify the strategies that optimize their academic work, and become more independent.

Next, let’s look at who are the ideal candidates for tutoring or coaching. Tutoring is very effective for students struggling in a specific class or those that need more support in an academic skill area such as reading or math. A tutor can help students progress in a specific subject, make academic gains, and provide content support that goes beyond the classroom. Students that are struggling to manage their work, not meeting the daily demands of school, and having school issues week to week are good candidates for coaching. This includes students who may be disengaged, overstressed, shutting down, or underperforming. Coaching can provide these students with work on the skills and processes that they need to re-establish their independence and improve their academic skills. The skills will help students strengthen their abilities when it comes to homework completion, long-term project planning, notetaking, writing skills, or any other academic challenge.

Tutoring is a great tool to use throughout the course of a semester or year when a class is difficult. It is also great when students encounter a rough patch with a specific class and need a boost to learn concepts and content. Coaching is effective over a duration of time that allows students to learn skills, practice them, and develop routines, habits, and methods for success. This could be a semester, year, or longer.

At Galin Education, we offer both tutoring and coaching services. For more information, browse our website or reach out to info@galined.com.


Looking for more information from Scott? Read more of Scott’s Special Education articles on ADDitudeMag, sign up for his Galin Chats in the Madison or Milwaukee area, and follow Scott on Twitter.