Last Updated On: January 16th, 2024
Now that most of us are back to in-person school and events, I often hear parents say, “I’d like to have in-person tutoring sessions because online school didn’t work for my child.” Having experienced the challenges of Zoom kindergarten for my own daughter, I can relate. But having tutored multiple students online, I can also assure parents that online tutoring is different than all-remote schooling and can be very effective, even for students with attention difficulties. I don’t just say this as a tutor—as a parent, I used an online tutor for my daughter post-pandemic and saw her make incredible gains in her reading skills.
There are several reasons why online tutoring can be effective when remote schooling was not:
Individualized attention and interactive lessons
During a one-on-one online tutoring session, the tutor works with only your child and is able to focus on their individual needs and learning style. Unlike in a Zoom classroom, where teachers are given the almost impossible task of monitoring a full class of students who are in different physical spaces, the tutor can focus on keeping just one student’s attention. Tutors use interactive tools and lots of back-and-forth interaction to keep students engaged. For example, during a test tutoring session I might use my stylus and annotation tools to write on the test document, demonstrating the best strategy for solving a problem. Then, I will have the student show me how they would solve a similar problem either by writing on the screen (if they have a touchscreen) or working out the problem on paper and explaining each step to me.
Online tutoring offers several features that are even more convenient than in-person tutoring. When I lead an in-person session I have to foresee the resources I’ll need and make sure to print them out ahead of time, but when working with students online, I can easily attach additional resources through the chat function or by email. For instance, if I realize during a session that a student needs to review the rules of operations with exponents, I have a go-to chart that I send the student, then I screenshare so we can fill out the examples in the chart together. It’s also easy for students to save the notes that I made on the online whiteboard or record the lesson for future reference.
Tutors and students who understand the technology
During the pandemic, teachers had to make a sudden switch to remote schooling and learn the technology as they did it, which was challenging for even the best in-person teachers. Now, tutors have been trained in online tools and have had time to pick up new teaching methods and strategies that are specific to online learning. Most students have also gotten used to using online tools and resources effectively.
Limited, focused screen time
One of the biggest challenges of the pandemic was that EVERYTHING moved online, so students (and grown-ups) were often staring at screens all day. Some activities, like kindergarten socialization and sports, were especially difficult to implement in physical isolation. Now that most people are back in-person for school, sports, and other activities, having a few hours of online instruction throughout the week can be an effective supplement to our in-person lives. I can attest to this with my own daughter—as a social kid, she loves being back to school in-person. When she has a Zoom tutoring session, however, she is able to sit down after school and focus on her tutor without any problems.
Flexible scheduling and more choices of tutors
One silver lining of the pandemic for me as a tutor is that I’m now spending a lot less time driving between students’ homes, which leaves more time for tutoring sessions and more flexibility in my schedule. I’m also able to tutor students around the country and even around the world. This isn’t just a benefit for me—students who meet online now have a lot more options for tutors and time slots. My daughter’s tutor lived in New Jersey and was a great fit. Without the online option she might not have been able to benefit from such an effective teacher.
There are a few situations, like the Internet not working or a student who needs a lot of help with physical organization, when in-person tutoring is still the best choice. But if the main reason you insist on an in-person tutor is that “remote schooling didn’t work,” I encourage you to give online tutoring a try. You might be pleasantly surprised by how well it works!
Photo by Julia M Cameron