Is Online Tutoring Good for My Child?

There are many things that you could do with your money, but making sure that your child does his best in school is worth the sacrifice of spending your hard-earned dollars to hire a tutor. You may have heard some good things about some local tutoring centers near your home, but you may have recently learned that some tutors will work with students online. When you consider how much you already shuttle him around as it is, online tutoring really would be much more convenient for you; however, your convenience is not the primary concern. If your child will have a good tutoring experience online, you should consider it.

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Why should you consider online tutoring as an option?

First, online tutoring is the perfect platform for providing resources of all kinds to your child quickly. In addition to the materials and resources that are created by the tutor, she can also use readily available resources that are already on the Internet. Most online tutors will produce their own materials for helping your child, but many will prepare for their students by searching and previewing the World Wide Web to find just the right activity tutorials, practice exercises, drills, etc. to help a student understand a previously elusive concept or idea. Producing appropriate materials and finding good resources are what good teachers do, and those are the same things that good tutors do as well. With technological advances like computer screen sharing and virtual classrooms, online tutors have complete control of the Internet content and the curriculum that a face-to-face tutor has.

Another reason to consider online tutoring is that it is personalized for your child. The tutor-to-student ratio at some tutoring companies can vary from 1-to-1 to 1-to-4 or more, but online tutoring is always 1-to-1! This makes it easier to for the tutor to “catch” errors and check for understanding right away. Part of the reason that the student may have been confused about a concept is that teachers are not always able to catch errors for all of their students since they have so many students to teach at one time. This personalized attention that a tutor can give could be all a student needs to get on track with her learning! Even though it’s a relatively new option, online tutoring has been deemed effective for all kinds of subjects. The abstract, “Results from the Evaluation of the Effectiveness of an Online Tutor on Expression Evaluation,” summarizes its findings for tutoring online. “Our results show that online tutors indeed help students learn. Students who use the tutor for practice learn better than those who use a printed workbook.”

A personalized program can be implemented with online tutoring just as it usually is at a tutoring company or with other private 1-to-1 tutors. Online tutors, however, can guarantee continuity because the student has the same person for each session as opposed to most tutoring companies where parents are not guaranteed the same person will work with their children for each session. While just as many tutoring companies have a range of programs, many online tutors can offer a comparable range of programs for a wide spectrum of grade levels depending on the tutor’s educational background and experience. Many online tutoring companies can assist parents in matching their children's weaknesses to the offerings of the right tutors by listing specific offerings to match a student’s needs. A parent can personalize a student’s online tutoring experience with the choices s/he makes from what is offered by the online tutoring company.

Of course, homework help might be the only help that your child needs. If the homework help is just to clear up some confusing concept, to prepare for upcoming exams or high-stakes testing, online tutors can also provide the intervention that a student needs. However, consider a longer-term tutoring program if your child seems to need regular homework help; there may be a significant lack of fundamentals that a tutor can help to remediate. If those fundamentals are not addressed in a meaningful way, your money will be spent on putting out fires, and your child’s confidence will not increase. He will not be the independent learner that you want him to be.

Besides providing your child with 1-to-1 personalized assistance, online tutoring is also convenient! Many parents who drive their children to a tutoring center find that their afternoons and evenings are interrupted with too much “stopping and starting”. They have to stop to get the student (and sometimes siblings) to the tutoring center, return home or run a quick errand, then stop and return to get the student (and the siblings) from the tutoring center, and finally go back home. With online tutoring, there is no interruption of the family’s routine, and if the student is older (like middle schoolers), working parents don’t have to rush home to take her anywhere.

With online tutoring, you don’t have to leave your house. Imagine not dreading rainy or snowy weather conditions to get to a session. Unless there is a power outage, the tutoring session can take place. As a matter of fact, some online tutoring students have been known to continue their tutoring sessions while away on vacation because as long as they have an Internet connection, they can have their tutoring sessions. That means reduced make-up sessions for the parents to re-schedule!

So, let’s say you’re convinced, what should you look for when considering online tutoring for your child?

A knowledgeable tutor is a must for a good tutoring experience! Look at the tutor’s educational background. Of course having an appropriate degree for the subject(s) helps. Additionally, having previous tutoring and/or teaching experience can be a real plus. Sometimes, a person’s work experience prepares him well for tutoring. I’ve seen graduate students and practitioners in chemistry and engineering do amazing work with high-level math, chemistry, and physics. Think about what your child needs and match that to the tutor’s credentials and knowledge level.

A reputable tutor will guarantee her programs. If you commit to providing a tutoring program, the tutor should offer you a guarantee of a certain amount of progress in your child’s performance. This often is done through pre- or placement testing and comparing those results to where the student ends her work in a program. Look for a guarantee of measurable progress when choosing an online tutoring service.

One last but important consideration is secure online payment. Payment for online tutoring is done virtually as well but look at how the online payment is to be made. The tutor’s site should send you to a secure web page with the prefix, “http” at the beginning of the URL in the address bar. Another secure method of payment is PayPal. A PayPal payment can be made from the tutor’s web site, or the tutor may send you a PayPal request for payment via your personal email. If the tutor doesn’t offer secure online payment, you may want to reconsider that tutor’s services.

Online tutoring can be a win-win for both parents and students. With the convenience it offers and the quality instruction, remediation is comparable and often superior to face-to-face tutoring. Technological enhancements like tutoring sessions with voice, screen sharing, and video make it almost like being there!

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