Parents aren’t usually so thrilled when summer rolls around and the kids are set to stay home every day. This year, however, summer vacation actually means that homeschooling parents are on break, too! After more than 3 months of distance learning, most parents are taking their foot off the gas and waiting to see what type of hybrid schooling arrangement awaits them this coming fall. For those trying to get a head start on the next term (or perhaps just catch up on the last one) with summer lessons, here are three quick tips on choosing an online tutor that will make sure you get the most out of your online sessions.
1. FOCUS ON STUDENT-TUTOR CONNECTION
While some parents choose a tutor based on “objective” criteria such as years of experience, skills, certifications and the like, it is also strongly advised to consider the connection between the student and the tutor. All learning is state dependent, and students learn & retain best when they are in an emotionally active/engaged state of mind (think motivated, eager, alert) as opposed to a more listless state (bored, tired, timid). It takes a good connection to get learners in these active states. This has become even more difficult to create without being in the same room now that lessons are given online. Believe it or not, no matter how good the tutor and how smart the student is, sometimes they simply don't click, and the results are mediocre at best. Find a tutor with whom your child can create a comfortable and engaging connection.
2. ASSESS THE SUITABILITY OF YOUR TUTOR’S ONLINE TOOLS
Different settings require different tools. In the world of online lessons, the most important element is finding a suitable video-conferencing platform. There are many out there that tutors are currently using, such as Zoom, Google Classroom, and Microsoft Teams, to name a few. When deciding which is best for your child, consider which features are most important to you: ease of use, group lessons capability, tie-in to existing school e-learning account, etc. Discuss this with the tutor to ensure they can use the program that is best suited to your needs. Whatever platform you agree on, make sure that it allows for the following:
Chatting (in case of audio-video issues)
Two-way screen sharing capabilities
You’ll also make sure that the platform allows for both student and tutor to annotate the whiteboard. Otherwise, you will end up with a spectator student instead of an engaged one! This brings us to another important tool: the tutor should be equipped with a graphics tablet, which is a device that allows them to write and draw clearly using an electronic pen — not their finger, touch-pad or mouse — with the student following in real-time.
4. ASK QUESTIONS & BE SPECIFIC ABOUT WHAT YOU NEED
First, you will need to ask the standard questions; about schedules and availability, experience, references, subject matter, grades/levels taught, and of course, pricing. Another aspect that is widely overlooked is that, when choosing the best tutor for your child, it is best to be clear with yourself about what it is you are looking to get out of the lessons. Some parents, for example, simply want someone to go through the lecture with their child. Others would like a tutor to help with homework and assignments. Some may even need someone for exam preparation, or expect the tutor to provide/produce weekly homework and assignments themselves. Think also about the timeframe to meet these goals, if any. Furthermore, you’ll want to find out and inform candidates about what kind of learner your child is – visual, auditory or kinesthetic (physically or by doing). This will determine the types of tools and techniques required to really reach the student, and so it is especially critical that tutors are able to deliver in the required methods in an online setting. To get the best match possible, we need to communicate what we need as clearly as possible to candidates. That starts with asking questions being specific with ourselves about what we want.
THIS WEEK'S BRAIN TEASER!
(The answer to the previous riddle: 38)
JUST FOR LAUGHS!
Credit to Brian Gordon of Fowl Language Comics!
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