How to Educate Parents on How Online Tutoring Works

One of the biggest challenges to running a successful online tutoring business is learning how to educate parents on what online tutoring is and how it will work for their child. Never assume that the parents that you will be dealing with are as tech savvy as the children you will be tutoring. Often times they have no idea what to expect, let alone believe that you will truly be able to help their child through cyberspace. They may also hold the misconception that they will have to purchase expensive software or gadgets to make their computer work with yours.

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It is your responsibility to educate parents on what online tutoring is, how it is accomplished, and exactly how you will use this technology to help their child be more successful in school. Below I will help you figure out how to educate parents on how online tutoring works.

The best way to make parents understand how online tutoring works is to show them. I created a demonstration that is now available online at http://www.tutorfi.com/highspeeddemo.asf I highly recommend directing a parent to this link and encouraging them to watch it and see how it works for their situation. Make sure you are available after they have watched it to discuss their responses and remaining questions with you.

There may be instances in which a parent is on the phone with you, possibly during the initial conversation, and it is inconvenient to get online together at that time. In these cases it is up to you to make the parent understand everything while still on the phone. I have been in this situation countless times and found that I always came across the same misconceptions and questions from parents. I have summarized the areas that I have consistently addressed in the five areas discussed below.

1. Explain that the only requirements are internet access, a microphone, and speakers. Most computers nowadays come with both a microphone and speakers built right in. However, if they don’t have them already, they could purchase both easily. Inform the parents that they shouldn’t have to spend a lot of money; the basic models will work fine. Although more expensive and not necessary, some students prefer to use a headset with a microphone attached. This style helps to reduce the background noise and may be the best choice for kids that are easily distracted.

Before a client is ready to use the online classroom they must configure their microphone. New microphones typically cause an installation wizard to pop up and walk you through the process while older microphones can easily be configured by following a few easy steps.

2. One of the major misconceptions parents have deals with how communication will occur during the session. Parents are typically amazed to learn that their child will be able to talk back and forth with you just as if they are on a telephone, but without the telephone of course. Many parents expect that their child will be communicating via typing, as they might have seen their child instant messaging (IM’ing) their friends.

3. If for some reason you are unable to show the parent the demo online, take some time to discuss how the whiteboard works. Help them to visualize the various features such as the freehand writing tool, the ability to draw shapes, even the ability to change the size and color of what they are drawing or writing. Explain to the parents that you or their child will be able to cut and paste text from a school document such as an essay, a homework worksheet, a test, or even from another website right onto the whiteboard so you can both look at the same thing simultaneously. Give them an example of how you and their child will use the whiteboard at the same time. I like to use a math problem as an example and help parents to imagine their child working out the solution to a math problem on the whiteboard as I watch and give them instant feedback about what they are writing as they are writing.

4. Another misconception that parents hold is that they believe that their child will share you with other children. They are very pleased to hear that you will be working one-on-one with their child for a full hour at a time.

5. Finally, make parents aware of the scheduling process. Many parents believe they are locked into running a session with you at the same time and day each week. Explain that your schedule will be posted and they are free to select whatever sessions works best for them on a weekly basis. The fact that the schedule can change when necessary and that a child can schedule a session whenever they are most needed, is very appealing to a parent.

Learning how to educate parents is vital. Always keep in mind that the parents may not be familiar with the technology that you hope to use with their child and if you would like to build a successful business you need to spend quality time helping potential clients understand what you plan to do and how you plan to do it.

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