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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.