1. Relate materials to the students preferred interests.
For example, if the student likes animals, you can teach categorization and counting by having a student count all the horses in a farm full of animals, teach paragraph writing by letting the student choose an animal to write about, teach volume by having a student discover how many square feet an animal needs for a pen and then have them create a pen of that size, etc.
2. Mix it up.
Sometimes too much of a routine can be a bad thing. Always be willing to find new ways to teach the same topic. Use crossword puzzles to teach vocab instead of just having students write out definitions, teach simple math skills with color-by-numbers sheets (e.g. color sections red whenever the answer is 2), use white boards and race your student to see who can do the problem first (obviously the student should be first often!), let younger students doing writing exercise with a crayon of their favorite color from time to time, etc.
3. Bring small reinforces like pencils, stickers, fun erasers, pens, bookmarks, coloring pages, etc.
Even older kids like getting small, tangible items. Save the best/bigger rewards for harder work, though, and always let the student know why they are earning it!
4. Provide 2-10 minute breaks to keep students on track.
We all need a break sometimes to recharge our brains. In a regular school day, a student will have breaks before, after, and sometimes even during class. Keep that in mind when tutoring, especially if the sessions are longer than an hour. Allow short breaks in between subject or worksheet changes if it seems like your student needs it. Make the break more fun or longer if the student has done a particularly good job.
5. Lots of verbal praise!
If it is a tough day for the student, give them praise even for following what would normally be an easy direction.