Online tuition isn’t like online schooling during lockdown

With Covid restrictions lifted, people are keen to get back to doing things face to face.  This is understandable.  As a result, I’ve noticed more people feeling unsure about online tuition.  When asked why, the answer is usually that the child found online schooling during lockdown difficult.

Online tuition is not the same as the online schooling experienced during lockdown. 

Here’s why:

Hybrid teaching:

During the lockdown of winter 2021, schools had to deliver lessons online and to children face to face in school, at the same time.  The teacher was having to educate a whole class of 30ish children, some of them physically in the room, the rest on screens.  This is hard.  Very hard!

Lack of devices:

The children at home might not have had enough devices to go around all the children needing to log into lessons, and parents needing to work from home; the devices the children may have been using might only have had a small screen making it hard to see what the teacher was doing.

Distractions:

Seeing into other people’s homes is distracting.  There’s Molly’s dad on the phone; there’s Luke’s dog; Mo’s battery has run out and he’s got disconnected; Beth’s internet connection isn’t very good and she keeps freezing or going glitchy and her video keeps going on and off.

Mute:

The children online need to be on mute otherwise all the noise from everyone’s homes will be deafening and distracting.  This can make the children feel cut off and disengaged from what’s happening in the lesson.  It’s not so easy to ask a question or join in a discussion like it is face to face.

Schools lacking support and resources:

The teacher has to manage the learning and behaviour of the children in school, as well as the learning and behaviour of the children on screen.  The skills and techniques required to do this are a bit different, so they’re having to blend two techniques together. Teachers were given about 12 hours notice they had to teach this way (most of those hours were night time and early morning!)

Teachers had no training in teaching online.  They had to learn on the job, hitting the ground running.  They may not have used the technology before and had to learn how to use that, as well as how to teach online – and in person – all at the same time.  Schools have been chronically underfunded for over 10 years and many schools did not have the technological infrastructure to cope with the demands now suddenly put on it.   

Unequal access for those at home:

Meanwhile, Molly’s dad is now answering the questions for Molly, whilst Luke would love some extra help but everyone is busy.  Mo’s had to go and find his charger.  Beth can’t keep up due to the poor connection and gives up. At school everyone experiences the lesson in essentially the same way. Children that require further support will receive it.

I’m painting a pretty negative picture of online schooling, but having spoken to children and teachers, this is an amalgam of things they experienced.  Teachers did their very best in very difficult circumstances.  It wasn’t easy for them, and it wasn’t easy for the children or their families.  Everyone muddled through as best they could.

1:2:1 online tuition is nothing like this.  Here’s why:

It’s 1:2:1

There are only 2 people on the call – me and your child.

Your child has my undivided attention.  I’m not trying to teach 29 other children – some online and some face to face.  It’s just me and them.

Minimal distractions:

Distractions are minimal because there is just me and your child in our homes.  My cat sometimes walks across the screen (always causes amusement!), or your dog might start barking, but these interruptions are minimal, and not damaging, and we can quickly get back on track. They are nothing different to the type of distraction that might happen face to face.

Regular time:

Your tuition slot is at the same time every week, mutually agreed in advance.  You know your child will need a device at that time and a quiet place to work so your family can plan around this accordingly.  It’s not like lockdown when everyone needed a device at the same time.

Technical issues can be dealt with:

If your child has technical difficulties, I can usually tell because they’ve frozen or gone glitchy, and I can pause and we can make it better before carrying on.  They can tell me if things aren’t working and we can solve them.  They don’t have to struggle through.  9 times out of 10 there are no technical problems at all.

I can adapt what we are doing if something doesn’t work.  There’s always another way of doing things.  This would be hard with a full class of hybrid teaching, where 1 or 2 children online can’t access the activity, but no problem at all when 1:2:1.

Slower pace:

I work at your child’s pace.  At school, the teacher has targets and objectives to get through each week.  The pace is fast.  With 1:2:1 tuition we focus on what your child needs at that time.  There is no rush to tick the box to say they’ve achieved it.  We chat and build up a good working relationship alongside learning in fun and engaging ways.

Varied activities:

I break up screen activities with paper-based or movement.  Just because we’re working online, it doesn’t mean all the activities we do are screen-based.  Often, children will be writing a story for 20 minutes in a notebook, working out maths questions on paper, or practising their spellings using arty methods.   Some children need more variety of activities than others.  I use my years of experience to gauge how activities are going and if we need to change it up a bit. 

Fantastic online activities:

There are fantastic online resources that really help engage the children, from games, to writing prompts, to online whiteboards where they can get really interactive with a learning activity, such as moving things around, writing and drawing on the screen.  Children love being given control of the screen (the power!) to play games or complete interactive activities. 

It is special time dedicated to your child:

Parents tell me that their child loves their tuition time because it is time dedicated to them.  Someone is giving them their undivided attention for up to an hour a week, when often they have to compete for attention from other siblings, and the rest of the children in their class.  They look forward to our weekly games of hangman (some children prepare their words in advance to make sure they are really hard and get me hung!) or continuing their story or reading the book we’re studying…  The fact that it’s online is irrelevant.  What’s important is that the child is engaged and enjoying learning.

I’m keeping my tuition online because:

It works:

There is no loss of engagement or achievement from working online.  All the children I’ve worked with online have made fantastic progress with their learning, just the same as if it was face-to-face. 

It is more eco-friendly. 

I keep a close eye on my carbon footprint and aim to work in as sustainable a way as possible.  Driving around for tuition sessions is not something I want to encourage. 

It is more time-efficient. 

With no travelling time, your child’s tuition literally only takes up to an hour week.  No factoring in the travel time and waiting time whilst they are in the session if you take them somewhere for it.  No person taking up room on your kitchen table whilst you’re trying to prepare dinner if I came to your house.  Just log in – you can be getting on with other things at home whilst the child is learning – log out and go play, have tea, whatever! 

I can help more people. 

With no travelling on my part, I have more time to offer.  It also means I can help people who live too far to travel to.  I’ve worked with many children in the last 2 years who live too far away from where I live for face-to-face to have been an option.  With online, your child can work with an excellent, experienced tutor regardless of where you or they live.

It’s the future:

I think working online is going to become much more normal.  Many people in all sorts of sectors are now working online rather than (or as well as) face to face because it just works – for the time and ecological reasons above – and the ability to help people outside of the immediate local area.  Online working like this will be part of your children’s lives.  It will be a life skill.  It will only get more efficient and easier.  Online learning is here to stay.  Let’s embrace it!

If your child could do with some support with their learning, do contact me to discuss how I can help. If you would like to join my free Facebook group supporting parents with their child’s learning in the primary years, click here.

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