Hi! I tutor students the same age, but I know their mother tongue, Hebrew. Still, I'll tell you about the things I've done with them that worked well and didn't use Hebrew.
Do you know about TPR (Total Physical Response)? It's a system of "learning through actions." There are some great resources online, for example tprworld.com. You begin by giving commands and modeling them for the student to copy--think a sophisticated version of Simon Says. It's low-pressure because the student isn't expected to speak at the beginning--just to carry out the command--and it works very well. I won't go into the whole thing here because it would get lengthy, but it's very effective at beginning levels and you should read up on it.
Early on, you should also do a lesson in classroom English--useful phrases like "fill in the blank," "listen please," so that you'll be able to communicate these essentials.
Playing Go Fish with picture flashcards is another really fun thing to do and doesn't require knowledge of the student's L1. There are some great cards on bogglesworld.com. If the student likes drawing (most 8-year-olds do), have him make his own flashcards sometimes.
If you can, bring videos of cartoons in English. Most are funny even if you don't understand all the words, and they are a great low-pressure way and fun way to learn.
That all being said, you should learn a few words of Italian. It tends to put students at ease, and I'm sure that the little Italian you will learn won't ruin the immersian experience.
I hope this is helpful to you.
- For Teachers