There are 50.7 million students currently enrolled in public schools in the United States and when this school year began, 58% of them were learning entirely online and another 18% were receiving a combination of in-person and online instruction. That means that less than one quarter of students are learning entirely in person.
The effectiveness of online learning varies widely, depending on the individual student, the quality of the technology available, the competency of the instructors, and the support of parents. Many students are thriving in the new environment, and are having a fairly easy time of it, but many others are struggling.
What Can Parents Do?
Unaccustomed to being so involved in their child’s education, many parents are overwhelmed with the amount of support needed by their at-home student who is learning remotely. One of the first things a parent needs to do in order to help their child succeed is to become familiar with the technology. Check out these ways you can help your student succeed with online or blended school:
Set up a Zoom call with a couple of friends or family members; try a Google Meet session, and use the computer, tablet, or other device that your child uses for school. Getting familiar with how to set up a video conferencing call can help you iron out the glitches ahead of time.
Be sure you’re receiving all communication from your child’s school and teacher(s) and show older students how to respond properly via email and how to upload/download documents. For younger students, you will probably need to manage the administrative tasks for them.
Maintaining communication with your child’s teacher(s) is especially important when learning takes place online. Teachers are generally happy to answer questions and appreciate parent feedback.
Sit in (off-camera) on a few sessions of your child’s online learning classes to get a feel for the teacher’s style, the pace, and the amount of interaction that takes place. You may be able to pick up on a few things you can recommend to help your child, and it might spark some questions you can ask the teacher later.
Create a calendar on paper that helps your student track assignments, due dates, meeting times, test dates, etc. A physical calendar is easier to view than tracking on a computer, and serves as a helpful visual reminder that helps your child organize their time.
If your child is a more tactile learner, print out assignments and worksheets, and allow them to complete these assignments off line. You can help them convert their work to online, or scan and upload their work to send to the teacher, if that is allowed.
Reduce distractions and make sure your child gets breaks away from the computer. Adults have a hard time maintaining their focus and attention for long periods of time online, and it is much harder for children.
Help your child set realistic goals to help them feel competent and accomplished. Teachers are usually good at giving positive reinforcement, but since they are not physically present, it’s helpful if you can give positive feedback to your child as well.
If it seems that your child is struggling to complete assignments, or is getting lower grades and test scores than they normally would, it may be that your child would benefit from one-on-one tutoring support with a certified teacher. Some students only need help on a short term basis in order to master a new concept or subject, and other students need more ongoing support to stay caught up with the rest of the class. If you’d like to know about the tutoring services we offer at TutorUp, please call us at 877-888-6787, or browse through our tutor profiles and let us know how we can help.
Parents and educators agree that the COVID learning loss issue is real. A new report from ABC News states that “As millions of students return to virtual classrooms after the holidays, new research reveals how the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted learning and skills retention nationwide that experts say could take years to overcome.” Students are experiencing gaps in understanding, skills, and knowledge that will have far reaching impacts on their academic progress.
Margaret Raymond, director of the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University said, “We found that the learning loss experience was quite pervasive, that almost all students were negatively impacted by the pandemic and pivot to remote learning,” The Stanford researchers estimate that students have already lost half a year in reading and more than a full year in math learning since the pandemic began.
Sixty-six percent of teachers in one national survey, conducted by the RAND Corporation in conjunction with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, said their students are less prepared for grade-level work now compared to this point last year.
One-on-One Online Tutoring Helps Students Get Ahead
With kids spending a lot of time online for school, it may seem counterintuitive to suggest that they would benefit from online tutoring. The evidence, however, shows that virtual tutoring may produce the same benefits as in-person tutoring. Scientific American reports that studies show students making impressive gains after online tutoring. Author Philip Oreopoulos, Distinguished Professor in Economics of Education Policy at the University of Toronto, recently analyzed 96 randomized evaluations of different tutoring models with a group of his colleagues. They found that “80 percent of the studies led to markedly improved outcomes, with more than half of the studies reporting large gains as a result of these programs.”
To minimize the risk of face-to-face interaction during a pandemic, online tutoring programs are gaining in popularity and are proving to be highly effective. An evaluation of one online tutoring program in Italy showed that “middle school students who received three hours of online tutoring a week—over a computer, tablet or smartphone—from trained university students saw a 4.7 percent boost in performance in math, English and Italian. With six hours of tutoring support, improvement doubled.”
One of the reasons that online school is so stressful for students is because they get very little individual help and tend to be reluctant or embarrassed to ask questions in the online group setting. Older students are getting inundated with homework assignments they are expected to complete independently, and younger students are having problems staying engaged in group settings. When one teacher/tutor works with one student at a time, this problem is eliminated, and students get the personalized, direct help they need.
An experienced teacher can conduct the same high quality personalized tutoring sessions in a virtual format that they can when meeting in person. As student and teacher get to know each other and build rapport, the teacher is able to customize the learning experience to suit that student’s needs and learning style.
Find out more about TutorUp’s online tutoring services, where all of our tutors are certified, experienced, background-checked teachers who know how to teach.
There are basically four main learning styles for children (and adults): Visual, Auditory, Tactile, and Kinesthetic. Most children fall into a combination of styles, but you can usually identify one style that seems to be the most successful.
Four Basic Learning Styles
Visual Learners learn through seeing. Showing works better than explaining.
Auditory Learners learn through listening. Explaining and discussing things is the best way to reach them.
Tactile Learners learn through touch. Being able to use their hands, reading, writing, and even doodling or drawing, helps them learn.
Kinesthetic Learners need to move and do. The kinesthetic learner may have trouble sitting still and needs to be able to be active in order to stay engaged.
No surprise that experts don’t all agree, and many of them break down these four basic learning styles into more specific niches. The important thing is to be able to recognize what works for your child, and use that knowledge to help them succeed.
Practical Application in the Classroom
Now imagine that you have a classroom of twenty students, and they all have slightly different learning styles that work for them. And they are all at different levels of comprehension and mastery of a specific subject or concept. It is clearly a huge challenge to try to meet those individual needs and ensure that everyone in the class is “getting it”.
If you are the parent of a student who may be struggling to keep up, or just needs a little extra one-on-one attention to achieve mastery of a subject, private tutoring is an effective option. Even the most accomplished students benefit from having the teacher’s undivided attention to ask questions and get answers.
Pandemic Learning Loss
This is even more true over the past year where we have seen students who normally don’t have a problem in school who are now falling behind. It may be directly related to the switch to online learning, part-time school, and the inherent inadequacies of these models, or it may also be related to the social isolation, uncertainty, and anxiety they feel.
Whatever the cause, studies are showing impressive gains for students who are trying to combat COVID learning loss by receiving online tutoring. Scientific American has published data from an analysis of 96 different tutoring models, and found that “80 percent of the studies led to markedly improved outcomes, with more than half of the studies reporting large gains as a result of these programs. In education research, such consensus is a rarity, and the consistency and magnitude of the results are both remarkable and encouraging.”
An Italian study has shown that middle school students who received three hours of online tutoring a week saw a 4.7 percent boost in performance in math, English and Italian. With six hours of tutoring support, improvement doubled. They have seen similar results in online tutoring programs in the United States and the results of these different tutoring programs “suggest that tutoring is a key tool in keeping students engaged and combatting the growing COVID-19 learning loss.”
One Size Doesn’t Fit All
Trained educators are able to assess a student’s performance and learning style and can adapt lessons to suit. Tutors who are subject matter experts but are not trained teachers may know their subject cold, but it doesn’t mean they are equipped to teach a struggling student.
At TutorUp, all of our tutors are certified, background-checked, experienced teachers, and we match your student’s specific needs with the perfect tutor from our database of over 3,000 professionals. We facilitate the matchup, you schedule sessions at your convenience, and the teacher/tutor provides session recaps for every tutoring session.
We have three different solutions for families looking for personalized online tutoring
To see if our online tutoring is the right fit for your student, we offer the opportunity to purchase one hour at a time, or you can take advantage of our introductory offer for new students, where you can purchase 3 hours of tutoring and get a 4th hour for free.
For students who would benefit from more than a couple of tutoring sessions, we offer package pricing at a discount from the individual session price. You can purchase 8, 16, or 24 hours and they never expire, so you can use them as needed.
Our very best value is our subscription model, where you sign up for 4, 8, 16, or 24 hours of tutoring per month, on a recurring basis. Unused hours roll over to the next month, and you may cancel anytime.
A quick search online shows that there are many different resources for families and students who are looking for free online tutoring help. It seems that most of these resources offer homework assistance, including 24/7 instant answers to student questions, but many also pair up tutors with students for free sessions.
Many school districts offer free online tutoring in some subjects to students in the district, and individual schools also have programs for their own students. Check your district and school websites for information on any free tutoring programs they may offer.
Public libraries have partnered with various tutoring services to be able to offer online tutoring, homework help, test preparation, and career support for free to library members. Check your local library website, or call to find out if they are enrolled in a program like this.
Non-profit groups in many school districts have created free tutoring programs for local students, like Ignited Minds in New Mexico.
National non-profit groups like Tutoring America provide funding or scholarships for students who need private tutoring help but don’t have the financial resources to pay for it.
There are also programs like ClassWallet that help students obtain funding to pay for private tutoring services. TutorUp is a partner with ClassWallet.
Many tutoring companies are experiencing a higher interest in getting personalized help, especially in math and reading tutoring services.
The COVID “Slide”
There’s solid evidence that the quarantine and forced closing of schools has resulted in a lot of confusion and lost ground for students. The sudden switch to virtual school has caused many students to lose ground in all of the basic subjects, math included. Parents are struggling to keep up with the new routine, and many are turning to private tutors to help their kids stay on top of their daily assignments, while also trying to catch up on material they missed at the end of the last school semester.
At TutorUp, we have experienced an increased demand across the board, not just in math tutoring services, and recently we’re getting more requests for in-person tutoring. We are able to witness first-hand how private tutoring can improve student comprehension, achievement, and confidence, whether online or in-person.
USA Today reports that “Tutoring is one of the oldest forms of education. A growing body of research shows that, when done right, it’s also one of the most effective means of lifting student achievement.“ Further, they address the COVID slide like this, “The toll on students’ attainment and engagement has been dire; it will almost certainly be compounded by the usual slide in learning many kids experience over summer vacation.”
Tutoring is an Effective Strategy For Learning
The Fordham Institute has researched educational interventions, including tutoring. They found that “tutoring is one of the most powerful interventions of all… Indeed, well-structured tutoring programs can produce gains in reading or math that are equivalent to about five months of learning beyond students’ ordinary progress.”
Boosting Student Achievement and Confidence
There is a stigma attached to students who are assigned to remedial classes, or who are identified as having learning challenges. Private tutoring removes this public stigma and provides the one-on-one personalized attention students need to get up to speed with their classmates. As students reach high school, they are increasingly reluctant to ask questions in class for fear of appearing “stupid” in front of their peers. As a result, they stay quiet and fall further behind.
Dr. Robert Slavin, Director of The Center for Research and Reform in Education at Johns Hopkins University states, “Of the single interventions that could be instituted at relatively modest cost and with quite rapid speed, tutoring stands out: The research base for its effectiveness is unusually consistent and strong, the practice is internationally endorsed, and there are many college graduates who will soon look for meaningful employment.”
Check out how much math tutors cost, including our pricing for math tutoring services at TutorUp.
Walk through the aisles of Back to School supplies in your local stores and you’ll notice a few new items on the shelves. Face masks, hand sanitizers, antiseptic wipes and other virus-related items have joined backpacks, folders, pens and pencils as essential school supplies, thanks to the presence of COVID-19.
In most states, the decision about whether or not to return to in-person school is being made at the school district level, and there are still districts that haven’t decided on how they will start the new school year. In other states, the governor is deciding. Whatever the situation in your school district, there is sure to be controversy.
To Return or Not Return, That is the Question
Pediatricians and the CDC have advocated for returning our children to school as usual, citing the extremely low incidence of the COVID-19 virus among those under 18 years old. There is also significant concern about the effects on children of being isolated and missing social contact. On top of that are concerns that students have fallen behind academically, and online classrooms have been a poor substitute for being present in school.
Many parents are working, some from home and some outside of the home, and having the kids home every day has been a hardship. Arranging for supervision and trying to manage their children’s online schoolwork has been difficult to do, so many parents are looking forward to having their kids back in school.
But returning to school in person has millions of people worried about the risks. Parents are understandably concerned about the health and safety of their children, and teachers are worried about exposure to the virus themselves, and the possibility that they could carry the virus home to their own families.
Innovation and Creativity Offer Solutions
In light of the uncertainty, parents are stepping up to the challenge and are creating their own solutions. This fall “school” will look very different for many families. Here are 5 options parents are choosing for their children.
Across the U.S., there has been a surge in interest from families who are seriously considering homeschooling. Many parents discovered last semester that they were more capable than they gave themselves credit for. Schools were scrambling to provide some type of academic activity, and many parents ended up being de facto teachers. And decided they liked it. So rather than depend on the school district to make a decision for the good of their family, parents are going to take on the challenge themselves.
Private schools are reporting an increase in inquiries from parents looking for options. Private schools, on average, have smaller class sizes and are not governed by the same restrictions as public schools. Many parents need their children to be in school so they can work, and they feel a private school may be better able to implement safety measures for their children.
Pods – In Person “Micro Schools”
Chatter on social media and online parent groups is showing an increasing interest in forming small private groups of students called pods. A couple of families get together and pool their resources, creating a classroom environment in one of their homes. Some pods are all family members, some are neighbors, and they are either sharing homeschooling duties for the group or they are pooling resources and hiring a tutor or teacher to come to their in-home classroom and work with the small group. It’s a modern take on the old one-room schoolhouse concept.
Mini Pods – Online
Very similar to the in-person pods or micro schools, this is a variation that allows for the teacher or tutor to conduct classes in a virtual environment. There are a lot of different conferencing or online schooling platforms that can handle live sessions with a teacher and several students at once.
Regular School Plus Tutoring
For many parents, these options may not work, and they are going to go with whatever their local schools plan to do while supplementing their child’s education with some regularly scheduled private tutoring. Many children lost ground academically when schools were forced to put together an online alternative, and parents are finding that having the one-on-one attention and support of a tutor is the best way to help their kids stay on track. Whether kids are attending school in person or online, the reality of teaching a large group of students at once is that some students are going to fall behind, some students are high achievers and will be bored. For these students, individualized private tutoring is an option growing in popularity.
For the 2020 school year, one thing is certain – it’s going to look far different from what we’ve all gotten used to.