What used to work for past generations’ educational journeys may not work for today’s generation of learners.
As a parent, there are so many options to explore that will impact the ways your children will learn. These options encompass not only the foundational information they need to learn from their core content classes, but how they consume the information from all different sources and modalities. In this era of constant technological access (literally at our fingertips), there’s no shortage of information being absorbed around the clock. For example, you might discover that your child learned a new word from their Aunt Kathy (don’t worry- she taught them how to pronounce ‘chartreuse’), or that they learned some trending new dance moves from a Cardi B Instagram reel.
Today, children absorb new information at a faster rate than the generation before them. And why is that? The brain doesn’t just have more neurons, but it is also carefully organized and at about 95% the size of an adult brain by the age of 12. (source) This speaks to the potential for learning present in even the youngest of minds. But what really has changed in the last 10 years is access to information and how children consume and apply what they learn.
Following the traditional schooling model, there are always a multitude of scenarios in which the learner’s potential may be impacted. For example, perhaps Johnny isn’t recalling and reciting his ABCs at the same rate and pace as his student peer group, or Susie is struggling to pass her proficiency testing that defines her readiness to move to the next grade level.
With information present across multiple platforms at a rapid rate, many children are faced with differentiating between the “facts” presented in a TikTok, and those taught by their teachers. Throughout all of these potential experiences, it’s important for children to see themselves as lifelong learners that know it’s okay to not know all the answers in Biology class, or have memorized all the lyrics in the latest Justin Bieber song.
The emphasis here is on the fact that children are learning so fast and are constantly inundated with new information. Though their brains are constantly organizing information, with such a multitude of modalities present, the potential for disorganization, improper recall and application, and information overload is ever-present. There is a strong common need for academic structure and a guiding voice to help lead students’ towards positive, beneficial educational experiences. To explore this need, this post seeks to discuss the following- which is better, an in-home or an online/virtual tutor?
Is Tutoring Worth It?
You have come to the point where you know a tutor would be a great idea, but you have no idea where to start.
The pressure of choosing the best options for a tutor can be daunting, to say the least. It’s an important decision to make that may ultimately impact your child’s academic success. Once you begin to explore the potential of hiring a tutor, questions pop into your head such as; will my child like the tutor? Can we trust them as parents? And when considering the commitment, will my child improve enough academically that it was a worthwhile commitment for our family.
Additionally, parents of students who have a learning disability, utilize an IEP or 504 plan, and require specialized accommodations should consider all options when exploring additional academic support for their child.
What are the differences between in-home and online tutoring? What are the pros and cons for each? Couldn’t I just help them with their homework? These are all important considerations, and this article continues to explore potential solutions.
In-home tutoring can be done in numerous situations whether your child is homeschooled or in a traditional school setting. An in-home tutor is an outside educator or third party that works with the student 1-on-1 within the home setting. What are the pros and cons of in-home tutoring?
Fewer Distractions — Is your child on information overload? This may be a great way to make sure that the cell phone is put away for a dedicated amount of learning time, allowing the student to focus on what needs to be done.
Personalized Approach — With in-home tutoring, your child can work 1-on-1 with someone in-person who can give them a live-action learning experience you can’t always get through an online platform or e-course.
Pace — Within a traditional classroom, the pacing of academic progress is often set with little flexibility. An in-home tutor will allow the student to interact with and comprehend the information at their own pace.
Safety — Many parents are wary of leaving their child alone with any adult they don’t know on a familiar level, let alone a situation in which their child is working 1:1 with someone who may be a stranger to them. Always confirm that the agency or teaching group vets their tutors through a background check.
Uncertified Tutors — Do your tutors have real-life experience teaching students? Have they been vetted by the agency or business that works with them? At times if a tutor is a low cost, they may not have the qualifications. Check the Google ratings for the business and ensure that the tutors have at least a few positive reviews and personal referrals.
Extracurriculars —Students are involved in extracurricular activities after school more now than ever. Having a tutor may limit them from their valuable activities after school for a short amount of time, but may prove to be worth it in the long run.
The option of online tutoring has become increasingly popular, especially with the changes in school climate and the environment caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the flexibility it offers students. Instead of being physically at the home, the tutor offers their service online via Zoom or a virtual Whiteboard (or similar platform) with the students on their laptop, desktop, or tablet.
Options — Online tutoring offers a wide variety of experienced professionals that specialize in specific areas that may best fit your student’s interests and academic need.
Flexibility —Many agencies offer tutoring services almost 24/7, or at least during flexible hours. This gives students the opportunity to continue participating in important, skill-building extracurriculars- which are equally important to a child’s academic and social/emotional growth.
Pod Learning — This may be an option for students who are great in group-learning settings (this is sometimes offered in-person as well) and can be less expensive. When utilizing pod learning, a tutor sets a schedule with 2–6 students in a roundtable format to help with any homework questions they may have. There may be less flexibility as far as scheduling and the group dynamic, but pod learning is often less costly in the long run.
Distractions — Students may be susceptible to more distractions since the tutor is not always right in the room with them. Cell phones, siblings in the house, and other unhealthy habits can all cause the student to have difficulty concentrating.
Non-Interactive — Younger students may learn better with hands-on interaction rather than digital learning. For the same reason, you will see building blocks and large interactive toys in early elementary classrooms. Many young learners are successful when they are fully engaged in the learning process. Virtual tutors can certainly overcome this challenge, though the solution is not as immediate as in-person tangible teaching opportunities.
Less-personalized — Students may not receive the same type of gratification as having a tutor in-home. Virtual learning means that students are separated from their tutor or educator by a screen, and therefore may feel more disconnected from the experience.
No doubt, distance learning is a huge hurdle for those with sensory or learning disabilities. There are some terrific resources out there for those who have those challenges. Click below for some additional resources to assist you in navigating your child’s academic tutoring needs:
Who Should I Choose?
Unless you were a teacher or tutor in the past, or currently have this important role as your career, it’s important to leave the tutoring process to the professionals. These specialized individuals will dedicate themselves to helping your child grow in leaps and bounds on the educational content with which they recently struggled. It’s important to weigh the pros and cons in this article as well as conducting your own research on all modalities of tutoring services before moving forward with this important decision.
Below are three highly-rated in-home and online tutoring services that employ only fully vetted professionals and can consistently deliver on all of the pros outlined above.
Final edit 3–31–2021 via author.