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How Online Tutoring Programs Can Help Your Struggling Child

How Online Tutoring Programs Can Help Your Struggling Child

When your child comes home with a less-than-stellar report card, the knee-jerk reaction is often to send them to a tutor for extra help.

While one-on-one, in-person tutoring may help a struggling learner understand a single subject or concept a little better, the child may end up facing similar struggles a little farther down the road if the focus of the tutoring sessions was on simply completing assignments rather than learning concepts – and learning how to learn.

Online tutoring services, such as Mentored, seek to improve upon in-person tutoring sessions and make learning more accessible, individualized, and student-driven. In doing so, they don’t simply teach academics – they teach students how to learn, and how to live.

On-the-Go Learning

There’s no arguing the fact that smartphones and mobile devices have become fairly ubiquitous – even when it comes to children and teens. While the initial reaction may be to assume that the only reason these devices exist is to get kids hooked on games and social media, they absolutely can serve a much more productive purpose.

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Students in need of tutoring can utilize services like Mentored wherever they go. The positive effects of this accessibility simply cannot be overstated. Because of these tutoring apps, learning is no longer something that only happens within the walls of a classroom; it can happen anywhere, at any time. Students can access lessons, multimedia, and other materials while waiting for a ride, sitting in the lunchroom, or after they get dropped off in the morning.

In-person tutoring works around a fixed schedule – and a time limit. Of course, this means tutors have a finite amount of time in which to (hopefully) get their students up-to-speed with the course material. When utilizing online tutoring services, students can spend as much time as they need reviewing materials, replaying videos, and checking in with their tutors in order to understand a concept they are struggling with.

Lastly, mobile tutoring allows students and tutors from across the country to connect as if they were in the same room. This can benefit families in less-populated areas of the country where professional tutoring centers and services are few and far between. Tutors from services such as Mentored have the opportunity to work with students of many different backgrounds, and in doing so increase their knowledge of how all students learn best.

Individualized Support

In a perfect world, tutors would work to ensure that all tutoring sessions – on and offline – are individualized. Unfortunately, many times tutors simply go through lessons and units in the exact same way with each student they work with.

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While most online educational sites, such as Khan Academy, provide overarching lectures that aren’t targeted at any specific demographic, services like Mentored provide students with individualized instruction, as well as follow-up materials that are tailored to each student’s needs.

Vice President of Education at Mentored Alan Cashdollar says, “It’s like teachers giving each student a completely individualized homework assignment.”

This reinforces the notion that learning isn’t just about completing an assignment – it’s about understanding the complex nuances behind the assignments at hand. When students are provided with lessons, assignments, and projects that actually mean something to them, they are more likely to take ownership of their own learning, and understand the importance behind what they’re learning – rather than learning material just to regurgitate it on a test and promptly forget it afterwards.

Student-Driven Learning

Instruction within schools is, traditionally, teacher-centered: The instructor stands at the front of the classroom, lectures to her students, gives a test to assess comprehension, and moves on. Although this has recently begun to change in classrooms across the country, many – if not most – students complete assignments not because they want to, but because their teacher told them to.

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The problem with this mentality is students learn to be reactive not just in school, but in all aspects of life. This can manifest in something as simple as a kid cleaning his room not because he likes the way it looks when it’s tidied up, but because his mom told him to.

But the mentality can have much more detrimental effects. For example, a freshman in college may be used to being given assignments by his high school teacher and completing them because it’s mandatory. However, in many lecture courses, weekly reading and assignments may only be “suggested,” and not completing them won’t have any direct effect on the student’s overall grade. Of course, the student who blows off these suggested assignments will not only fail to learn the material he needs to know in order to pass the class, but he also will lack the background knowledge to move further in his college career.

With online tutoring services, learning is placed squarely in the hands of students. If they don’t understand the tutor’s explanation or need a little more assistance, they can contact the tutor whenever need be. Unlike in-person tutors – who are only available for a set period of time – online tutors make themselves available for quick check-ins throughout the week if their students need their help.

Of course, this means students have to be honest with themselves, as well as their tutors, with what they know and don’t know. Services like Mentored work with children to alleviate the idea that they need to know everything – and strengthen the notion that it’s okay to ask for help. Cashdollar believes asking for help “is not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of self-awareness.”

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Proactive Learning

While many parents sign their children up for tutoring sessions to help them when they struggle with a certain subject or topic, online mentoring programs do more than just help them with their homework: They prepare children to be lifelong learners.

As alluded to before, students need to take control of their own learning in order to be successful in life. It’s not enough to simply know enough to complete an assignment or pass a test. Unfortunately, this is often the aim of one-on-one tutoring sessions. Parents will hire a tutor when they notice their child is struggling, and will discontinue services once their grades begin to improve.

But online tutoring services don’t limit a child’s learning to the material the teacher wants them to learn. In fact, they don’t place a limit at all. Services like Mentored teach children to be proactive in their learning, which fosters in young students the notion that, no matter how much you think you know, there is always more to learn.

Featured photo credit: Computer Science Education Week / CMLibrary Charlotte Mecklenburg Library / Flickr via farm9.staticflickr.com

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Published on January 30, 2019

How to Support a Working Mother as a Working Father

How to Support a Working Mother as a Working Father

In roughly 60 percent of two-parent households with children under the age of 18, both parents work full time. But who takes time off work when the kids are sick in your house? And if you are a manager, how do you react when a man says he needs time to take his baby to the pediatrician?

The sad truth is, the default in many companies and families is to value the man’s work over the woman’s—even when there is no significant difference in their professional obligations or compensation. This translates into stereotypes in the workplace that women are the primary caregivers, which can negatively impact women’s success on the job and their upward mobility.

According to a Pew Research Center analysis of long-term time-use data (1965–2011), fathers in dual-income couples devote significantly less time than mothers do to child care.[1] Dads are doing more than twice as much housework as they used to (from an average of about four hours per week to about 10 hours), but there is still a significant imbalance.

This is not just an issue between spouses; it’s a workplace culture issue. In many offices, it is still taboo for dads to openly express that they have family obligations that need their attention. In contrast, the assumption that moms will be on the front lines of any family crisis is one that runs deep.

Consider an example from my company. A few years back, one of our team members joined us for an off-site meeting soon after returning from maternity leave. Not even two hours into her trip, her husband called to say that the baby had been crying nonstop. While there was little our colleague could practically do to help with the situation, this call was clearly unsettling, and the result was that her attention was divided for the rest of an important business dinner.

This was her first night away since the baby’s birth, and I know that her spouse had already been on several business trips before this event. Yet, I doubt she called him during his conferences to ask child-care questions. Like so many moms everywhere, she was expected to figure things out on her own.

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The numbers show that this story is far from the exception. In another Pew survey, 47 percent of dual-income parents agreed that the moms take on more of the work when a child gets sick.[2] In addition, 39 percent of working mothers said they had taken a significant amount of time off from work to care for their child compared to just 24 percent of working fathers. Mothers are also more likely than fathers (27 percent to 10 percent) to say they had quit their job at some point for family reasons.

Before any amazing stay-at-home-dads post an angry rebuttal comment, I want to be very clear that I am not judging how families choose to divide and conquer their personal and professional responsibilities; that’s 100 percent their prerogative. Rather, I am taking aim at the culture of inequity that persists even when spouses have similar or identical professional responsibilities. This is an important issue for all of us because we are leaving untapped business and human potential on the table.

What’s more, I think my fellow men can do a lot about this. For those out there who still privately think that being a good dad just means helping out mom, it’s time to man up. Stop expecting working partners—who have similar professional responsibilities—to bear the majority of the child-care responsibilities as well.

Consider these ways to support your working spouse:

1. Have higher expectations for yourself as a father; you are a parent, not a babysitter.

Know who your pediatrician is and how to reach him or her. Have a back-up plan for transportation and emergency coverage.

Don’t simply expect your partner to manage all these invisible tasks on her own. Parenting takes effort and preparation for the unexpected.

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As in other areas of life, the way to build confidence is to learn by doing. Moms aren’t born knowing how to do this stuff any more than dads are.

2. Treat your partner the way you’d want to be treated.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard a man on a business trip say to his wife on a call something to the effect of, “I am in the middle of a meeting. What do you want me to do about it?”

However, when the tables are turned, men often make that same call at the first sign of trouble.

Distractions like this make it difficult to focus and engage with work, which perpetuates the stereotype that working moms aren’t sufficiently committed.

When you’re in charge of the kids, do what she would do: Figure it out.

3. When you need to take care of your kids, don’t make an excuse that revolves around your partner’s availability.

This implies that the children are her first priority and your second.

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I admit I have been guilty in the past of telling clients, “I have the kids today because my wife had something she could not move.” What I should have said was, “I’m taking care of my kids today.”

Why is it so hard for men to admit they have personal responsibilities? Remember that you are setting an example for your sons and daughters, and do the right thing.

4. As a manager, be supportive of both your male and female colleagues when unexpected situations arise at home.

No one likes or wants disruptions, but life happens, and everyone will face a day when the troubling phone call comes from his sitter, her school nurse, or even elderly parents.

Accommodating personal needs is not a sign of weakness as a leader. Employees will be more likely to do great work if they know that you care about their personal obligations and family—and show them that you care about your own.

5. Don’t keep score or track time.

At home, it’s juvenile to get into debates about who last changed a diaper or did the dishes; everyone needs to contribute, but the big picture is what matters. Is everyone healthy and getting enough sleep? Are you enjoying each other’s company?

In business, too, avoid the trap of punching a clock. The focus should be on outcomes and performance rather than effort and inputs. That’s the way to maintain momentum toward overall goals.

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The Bottom Line

To be clear, I recognize that a great many working dads are doing a terrific job both on the home front and in their professional lives. My concern is that these standouts often aren’t visible to their colleagues; they intentionally or inadvertently let their work as parents fly under the radar. Dads need to be open and honest about family responsibilities to change perceptions in the workplace.

The question “How do you balance it all?” should not be something that’s just asked of women. Frankly, no one can answer that question. Juggling a career and parental responsibilities is tough. At times, really tough.

But it’s something that more parents should be doing together, as a team. This can be a real bonus for the couple relationship as well, because nothing gets in the way of good partnership faster than feelings of inequity.

On the plus side, I can tell you that parenting skills really do get better with practice—and that’s great for people of both sexes. I think our cultural expectations that women are the “nurturers” and men are the “providers” needs to evolve. Expanding these definitions will open the doors to richer contributions from everyone, because women can and should be both—and so should men.

Featured photo credit: NeONBRAND via unsplash.com

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