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Volunteer Tutors - Frequently Asked Questions

Can I be a volunteer tutor if I have no background in teaching or tutoring?

Yes! VLP doesn’t require experience in the field. VLP provides preparation and ongoing support for its volunteer tutors. A high school diploma is required; college is preferred.  Participation in the VLP Tutor Preparation is required.  The school system requires that all its volunteers undergo the FCPS background check, which VLP facilitates for its tutors.

What kind of commitment is expected of volunteer tutors?

VLP asks for a commitment of at least 90 minutes, once per week, for at least 4-8 months. Most tutoring assignments fall within this timeframe. Tutors decide what day and time works best. 

Do I need to participate in any kind of training before I get started tutoring?

Volunteer tutors are required to participate in VLP’s Tutor Preparation, which consists of the completion of five brief online modules, and then attendance at a two-hour in-person orientation, before starting their volunteer tutoring.

What subjects am I expected to tutor?

Most VLP learners are adults who want to obtain their high school credential and need to improve their reading, writing, and/or math skills in order to perform high school-level work.  There is a growing need for tutoring in other high school subjects such as science and social studies, as well as computer technology.  VLP learners also include adults who have a high school credential but still need to improve their reading, writing, and/or math skills in order to perform post-secondary work, such as at Northern Virginia Community College (a goal for many), or to get a better job. VLP’s learners must have basic English language skills, and basic reading, writing and math skills. Those who do not are referred to other programs to first acquire those basic skills.

What types of volunteer assignments are available?  

VLP is the support arm of FCPS’s three adult high school completion programs: the Fairfax County Adult High School, the GED® Testing and Adult Skills/GED® Classes programs, and the National External Diploma Program.
  • Work one-on-one with one adult learner and meet once a week in a Fairfax County Public Library. Select a library that is most convenient for you, and meet within normal library hours. (According to VLP policy, tutors must meet their learners in a public place, and never in a home or other private setting.)  
  • Work with a teacher in a classroom
  • Tutor once a week at the Fairfax County Adult High School in regular high school classes such as English, algebra, or geometry. Work with the regular teacher, textbooks, and curriculum to help the teacher individualize instruction for each adult learner and to assist with small group work.  Daytime classes are held at the Pimmit Center in Falls Church, and evening classes are at Woodson High School
  • Tutor with the National External Diploma Program and help individuals complete program requirements by assisting them with the reading, writing, math and technology skills necessary to accomplish their tasks. 
  • Help juveniles in daytime alternative high school programs at the Juvenile Detention Center and other special programs where court-involved youth obtain their high school education in non-school settings. An FCPS background check, including fingerprinting, is required for volunteer assignments with juveniles.
  • Work in the GED® and English for Speakers of Other Languages program at the Adult Detention Center. There are many classes which need the help of caring volunteers, and individual tutors for day and evening assignments.
  • VLP is often involved in starting up new projects and community collaborations which provide different avenues for volunteer tutoring, such as computer labs, math labs, reading and writing groups, book clubs, and conversation groups.

How does VLP match a tutor with an individual adult learner?

  1. The learner contacts VLP and requests a tutor.
  2. A VLP specialist makes an appointment to meet with the learner for intake. Intake includes goal-setting, and detailed information on learner availability, plus a reading, writing, and math assessment to determine the learner’s skill level.
  3. The VLP specialist writes detailed learning recommendations based on the learner’s goals and needs.
  4. The VLP specialist finds a tutor who can meet with the learner according to the availability and best library for both tutor and learner. If the tutor accepts, the assignment is made.
  5. The VLP specialist delivers to the library’s circulation desk a tutor packet containing the learning recommendations, the appropriate workbooks from VLP's lending library, and other pertinent information. The packet is in the tutor’s name and is picked up by the tutor in time for the first tutoring session.
  6. The tutor contacts the learner to arrange the first meeting date and time.
  7. And the assignment begins!

How do I know where to start with my individual learner?

You will receive detailed learning recommendations based on the learner's intake meeting with the VLP specialist. The learning recommendations will highlight areas for study and also suggest strategies and techniques for you to use.

What kind of support can I as a volunteer tutor expect from VLP?

VLP provides you with everything you need to get started. Your specialist is always here to assist you, to answer questions, and to provide materials as you continue your assignment. Once a month, you will hear from the VLP management, too! VLP also provides tutor workshops where volunteers can get together to learn more about a specific topic and to get to know each other. Periodically, the VLP manager sends out a newsletter - VLP's News You Can Use Now - with pertinent information to help you in your tutoring. Many free online resources are compiled for you in VLP's online tutor resource, the Tutor Exchange, at And, of course, the VLP staff is always here for you!

What’s the best thing about volunteer tutoring with VLP?

You get the chance to make a real difference in someone’s life. You’ll see someone pass the GED® test or get their high school diploma after so many years of being out of school. You’ll see someone finally understand the keys that good reading comprehension holds to so many other doors. You’ll help someone learn the math that they’ve been afraid of for so many years. You’ll see a struggling writer accomplish the task of constructing a good, solid essay. You’ll help someone acquire the skills to get into Northern Virginia Community College or to get a better-paying job. These, and so many more goals of VLP’s adult learners, are within reach because of the invaluable assistance of VLP’s volunteer tutors!


To begin your volunteer tutoring with VLP, contact Michele Armstrong at 703-503-6412 to find out about our upcoming in-person orientations and our online Tutor Preparation modules.