The Biggest Benefits and Misconceptions of Online Tutoring

By Joanne Sallay

Posted in Computer Tutoring, Educational Technology, Featured, Local, Parent Education Resources, Tips & Advice

The Biggest Benefits and Misconceptions of Online Tutoring

Are you currently on the fence to try online tutoring for the first time? If the answer is yes, you are not alone. Teachers on Call’s president, Joanne Sallay, is here to help with her views on why families are sometimes hesitant to start online tutoring initially, and how they are pleasantly surprised by the academic results from virtual support. Read on to learn 8 reasons why Joanne, and our entire tutoring team, believe online tutoring sets students up for academic success in all subjects and grades from reading, writing and numeracy skills to high school English, math, science and more!

Growing up with Teachers on Call as the daughter of our founder, Rhona Sallay, I was one of the first students to try our in-person tutoring services, French tutoring in my particular case. Interestingly, my own children were amongst the youngest students to try online tutoring.  As a newer educational service compared to tradition home tutoring, I wanted to address some of the misconceptions and questions about it. This is a topic I feel quite passionate about, as I have seen the academic benefits firsthand as both an educator and parent.

While one of the most common questions we hear at Teachers on Call is, "How do I know if my child needs a tutor?". After this, one of the next most popular inquiries is how to know if online tutoring is worth trying for students.  Many parents are unsure based on negative experiences during school closures as they often associate online tutoring with the pandemic. Alternatively, there may be doubts or feelings of uncertainty simply because it is a newer service they have never tried before.

However, the Teachers on Call team started offering online tutoring many years in advance of the pandemic. While in-person tutoring has been our signature tutoring service since our family business began in 1984, we recognized early on the benefits online tutoring offers students in addition to traditional in-person tutoring. While I believe and stand behind both in-person and online tutoring services, this column is going to focus on why online tutoring may be the right choice for your child and debunk some common myths.

1)     Online tutoring is NOT like remote classroom learning.

One of the biggest reasons families are resistant to try online tutoring is they had a negative experience during the pandemic when their child participated in remote learning. I have heard this from prospective parents as well as my own family members looking to help their children catch up in school. However, my response is always the same. One-on-one online tutoring is not the same as a ratio of one teacher to an entire classroom. It’s a very different approach as personalized online tutoring allows the educator to build a relationship and hold attention in a way that is not possible when teaching a full virtual classroom.

2)     Online tutoring works well for kindergarten and primary grade students.

My son became the youngest student to try online tutoring when he was in senior kindergarten at the start of the pandemic. We had never supported any 5-year olds with online tutoring before, but I did not want him to fall behind in reading, writing and math. The results were astounding. My son loved his learning experience. Once friends and family learned about our tutoring social experiment, they were intrigued to try for their own kindergarten and primary age students. The popularity for young students grew so great that National Post journalist Joe O’Connor, wrote about our story in his financial post column, Kindergarten is the new calculus.

3)     Online tutoring is effective for students with short attention spans.

Online tutoring is extremely flexible and starts with thirty minimum minimums for virtual sessions. After this, increases are available in 15-minute increments. This contrasts with in-person tutoring services that have a one hour minimum due to time involved for the tutors to travel to the home. Many students find one hour simply too long to hold their attention and gravitate to shorter sessions which they find easier to digest (without their eyeballs drooping)!

4)     Online tutoring can be combined with in-person tutoring for a hybrid approach.

Just because you try online tutoring does not mean you have to say farewell to in-person sessions. Many families opt for a hybrid approach where they have a combination of in-person and online tutoring sessions with the same Teachers on Call tutor. Or they may choose to have in-person tutoring for one subject, and online tutoring for another course, depending on the situation and academic needs.

5)     Online tutoring is flexible for busy students and families.

Families are busier than ever with jam packed schedules filled with commitments and activities. Online tutoring is incredibly flexible in terms of the 30-minute time minimum, but also the wide availability of time options for scheduling purposes. Many families notice that when they have unique and limited windows of time for tutoring, online sessions may be the most convenient solution. For example, if your child plays competitive hockey, there may be very few slots possible for meeting an in-person tutor, making online tutoring the best choice.

6)     Online tutoring may allow for the best tutor match for your child.

At Teachers on Call, we pride ourselves with our professional matching system. In full transparency, the best tutor match for your child may not live close enough to work with your family, especially for more specialized requests like math tutoring with French instruction, or International Baccalaureate (IB) and Advanced Placement (AP) courses. For example, my son’s online math tutor lives around 90 minutes away in Hamilton, Ontario which is a great distance from us. He is a wonderful academic and personality fit to provide math enrichment for our son, but this distance would prohibit us from working together for home tutoring. My son has never met his online math tutor face-to-face in the traditional sense, but they have such a great working relationship, you would never realize it, nor does it make a difference for him.

7)     Online tutoring is popular with students of all ages.

Often, I have seen that it is the parents or even grandparents who are feeling uncertain about trying online tutoring, not the actual potential tutee students themselves. However, we must remember and remind ourselves that students have grown up with technology, computers, video games and online courses in a way many of us adults have not. They are extremely comfortable with online learning, and virtual tutoring is no exception. In fact, many students even prefer it to in-person tutoring.

8)     Online tutoring is fun, interactive and “cool”!

Online tutoring is very engaging and interactive with the use of technology. Many tools can be utilized such as educational YouTube videos, apps and digital books, just to name a few. I often ask Teachers on Call students themselves their thoughts working with one of our online tutors, and love hearing the response how “cool” the experience is. The possibilities are truly endless to inspire a lifelong love of learning!

On behalf of the Teachers on Call in-person and online tutoring team, we hope this blog proves helpful in understanding more about the benefits of online tutoring and why it is worth strongly considering for your child. If interested to learn more about how the use of a tutor can help your child succeed, feel free to read the online version of my column in the special section of Costco Connection.

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