How to Maximize Learning for Your Child in an Unpredictable School Year

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With no surprise, the start of this school year is very different for parents, students and teachers. Each school board comes up with its back-to-school plan, which is subject to revision and changes are yet to come. Parents have been exploring options to ensure their children can continue to learn in full capacity, with uncertainty in the school system lies ahead. We provide in this article different educational options which parents may consider. 

Fear drives online learning switch

The Ministry of Education allows school boards to stagger the return to school. A majority of students have started their first class this week, while others will start next week. Before school even started, parents must make the decision of either sending their children back to school or enrolling for online learning. Due to the uptick in COVID-19 since school has started, many parents have decided to switch from classroom to online learning and parents’ concerns still remain.

Alternatives to classroom instructions

Due to a massive number of students having shifted to online learning at the last minute, it poses a challenge for the school boards to work out the logistics. While school administrators work around the clock to reconfigure the timetable, they are not fully prepared for the influx of online learning and students may need to wait till next term to change between in-person and online.

Parents unsatisfied with their school boards’ back-to-school plan are seeking alternatives, from building their own lesson plan, participating in a learning pod, to hiring a tutor. When exploring the different alternatives, parents may want to consider the pros and cons of each:

  • Homeschooling: Parent, tutor or teacher educates a child at home and the child is not attending a public or private school
    • Pros: More flexible in structuring the day, able to customize lesson plan
    • Cons: Need to find resources and come up with own curriculum, which could be time consuming; education plan may not align with the school system
  • In-person tutoring support: A tutor who meets a student in-person, addressing student’s individual academic needs, assisting/guiding student’s learning
    • Pros: Allows social interaction, easier for students to build relationship with the educators
    • Cons: More expensive, harder to find due to COVID worries, restricted to the use of books and paper-based materials, difficult to monitor the risk of contracting COVID
  • Online tutoring support: A tutor who meets a student via an online platform, addressing student’s individual academic needs, assisting/guiding student’s learning
    • Pros: More convenient to schedule, time saving, access to a larger pool of highly skilled and capable educators, peace of mind in regards to COVID concerns
    • Cons: Student may get distracted, requires stable internet connection
  • Learning pod: A small group of students who learn together outside the classroom, students are instructed by a tutor, teacher or parent
    • Pros: Benefits from cooperative learning, allows social interaction
    • Cons: Work best if students are at the same academic level and learning pace, having the same school timetable and level of commitment; working out the logistics could be a challenge; expose to risk of contracting COVID

Leveraging private tutoring as supplement

When deciding what kind of supplemental support best suits your child’s educational needs, parents should consider the learning style of the child and the COVID comfort level.

One-on-one tutoring support works best for most students, as students can participate and ask questions in real-time and tutors can provide undivided attention to clarify students’ doubts about a subject. Besides one-on-one in-person tutoring support, TeachRequest has proactively offered one-on-one online tutoring in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our online tutoring platform features video chat, screen sharing, as well as scratchpad and typepad that allows students and tutors to write, draw, and type collaboratively. The different collaboration tools keep the students engaged in the lessons and the tutors get to explain concepts in innovative ways.

As all our tutors are Ontario Certified Teachers, their familiarity with the Ontario school curriculum is beneficial to students who are struggling with understanding school materials or students who are seeking advancement.

Keep a watchful eye on the situation

In the midst of COVID, we all learn to navigate the changes and find ways to cope with the dynamic situation. The Ontario government has put up a website to provide updates on COVID-19 cases in schools and child care centres. Safety first and parents have started worrying about a second wave of infections may disrupt their children’s schooling once again. Be prepared and plan ahead!