Is Online Tutoring Right for Your Child?
Jan 17, 2012
Online tutoring is becoming increasingly common. Yet how do you know if online tutoring, as opposed to in-home or center-based tutoring, is right for your child? There are a variety of pros and cons to consider.
Benefits of Online Tutoring
For many parents, the most appealing aspect of online tutoring is its convenience. As a parent, you don't need to take your child to a tutoring center. When it's time for the session to begin, your child simply needs to be in front of the computer. This can save significant time and, when gas costs are factored in, it can save money as well.
If you would otherwise drive just five miles to a tutoring center, online tutoring would save you from traveling ten miles for each session. If your child received tutoring twice each week for the length of the school year, that could add up to approximately 800 miles. While your child is tutored online, you can save that gas money for another day.
Another advantage of online tutoring is that it minimizes some of the safety risks of in-person tutoring. You may feel uncomfortable dropping your child off at a tutoring center or inviting a tutor into your home. With online tutoring, you have the security of knowing your child is not in the physical presence of a stranger. Of course, online tutoring doesn't entirely eliminate the risk of sexual predators or other dangers, but they are mitigated. With older children, you may not even feel the need to be home during the tutoring session, a major advantage over in-home tutoring.
A third perk of online tutoring is that when you hire a tutor online, your talent pool vastly increases. Instead of being limited by the tutors in your local area, you can choose from experts throughout the country, or even throughout the world. Let's say you need a Latin tutor. There may be a finite number of qualified, experienced Latin tutors in your area, especially if only one local school offers Latin. You can go online with your search and eliminate the geographical constraints, choosing from Latin tutors wherever they may be.
Drawbacks of Online Tutoring
Online tutoring is not without drawbacks. Among the most significant is the potential for distractions. When your child is sitting at a table with a tutor, outside distractions can be minimized. These include your child's cell phone, television, radios and more. It's difficult to prevent your child from having his or her phone on hand during an online tutoring session.
Then there's the distraction of the computer itself. Your child may easily lose focus and begin surfing the Internet or checking email. Your child may also get distracted from the lesson with the bells and whistles of the tutoring platform, which might include pens, markers, highlighters and other drawing and writing tools.
There are many learning difference that children may have that make online tutoring less appealing than in-person tutoring. For example, children who have difficulties with attention or focus may need to have a tutor sitting with them in order to pay attention. Other children may have difficulty communicating effectively with an online tutor; they may struggle with social cues and conversation. This could lead the tutor to not realize when your child is failing to understand a concept or the answer to a question.
Finally, online tutoring has advanced dramatically in recent years, but it still has technological limitations. There are still aspects of tutoring that are far more difficult, if not impossible, to replicate in an online environment.
For example, if your child is working through a set of geometry problems from a textbook, it may be cumbersome to share the problems with the tutor. Your child may need to scan the page and upload it to a tutoring platform, which is time-consuming and tedious. Furthermore, working through problems with a pen on an online whiteboard, especially when it's controlled by a mouse or trackpad, can be awkward.
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