By the time the world shut down for COVID-19 this spring, I had been tutoring online for 3 years. I spent a lot of time trying to persuade families that online tutoring could be as effective as in-person tutoring. I didn’t land every client I talked to. Some thought their children were too young. Others thought their children were too distracted or already spent too much time on screens. But lots decided that OG tutoring online was the best route for their children.
In spite of some objections, I built a full (part-time) schedule. Reasons my parents gave for hiring me:
- They already have a long drive to and from school and didn’t want to be on the road another 45 minutes or more to meet with the tutor (or keep siblings busy while they wait for the student to finish with the tutor).
- The family lives in an area where there aren’t enough OG tutors (I have heard this from students all over the US and also from Canada. It’s not one specific area that is lacking.)
- The student had a local tutor but they weren’t OG certified or their schedule doesn’t work.
- Parents work long or unusual hours and they can’t get a local tutor that fits their schedule. It’s actually better, sometimes, that I’m in a different time zone.
- The student was already doing other lessons (music, math tutoring, special interest classes) online and it had gone well.
While parents rarely come out and say it, I often find online tutoring to be a preferable option for older students. Teens often feel uncomfortable meeting with a tutor to work on their basic reading and writing skills. They might feel embarrassed after struggling for years. Meeting online makes the work a little more private than, say, going to a teacher’s classroom after school.
Lately, of course, online tutoring has been the only option for many students. I’ve taken on a few students who are younger than my usual students and some who aren’t as excited about the technology as my usual demographic. But you know what? It’s working. We’ll see what happens next year when they have the option to get better support at school or work with someone in person, but I’m thinking some families will see the benefits to online tutoring during this experience and that some will decide to stick with it.
What lies ahead?
Of course, if 2020 has shown me nothing else, I have realized we have no idea what the future holds. The return to “normal” looks like it will be slow and there may be some false starts as we get kids back to school. Having online tutoring as an option in your toolbox makes you flexible and versatile. What if you decide to move next year? What if your children need a parent at home and you have to change your work hours? What if you or a family member are affected by a health condition down the road that makes it risky to be in contact with a lot of people or makes it more important to be available at home? Or what if a student moves away and you want to give them the option to continue working with you? Changes like this can happen in all our lives. Being able to tutor online can take a little pressure off in a stressful situation, when you know you will be able to keep working and keep getting paid in a difficult time.
So what’s your reason for building your capacity to tutor online? Comment below and tell me what your favorite benefit of online tutoring is.