PITTSFORD, N.Y. (WROC) — Olivia Ritchie is a ninth grader. She said back in March, COVID-19 affected everyone’s studies. “It was hard because you were worried about COVID, and you worried about your family members and everything, but you just had to focus on school and get past June.”
Fast forward to now – she said she has finally adjusted to the hybrid learning model – minus a few technical glitches: “Sometimes Wifi can shut down, but after all it’s easy.”
Something that has eased her adjustment back into school is the help of a tutor. With all the hours spent working from home and staring at a screen, it can turn into a daunting task. That’s according to Susan Steron, director at Sylvan Learning.
Steron said the feeling of being stuck at home for too long is causing a higher demand for tutors. “With hybrid learning and full remote, it’s very challenging for parents to be able to provide the level of instruction their kids need at home, especially for working parents, and kids that struggle.” She said some of the calls she’s been receiving from parents are asking, how they can find not just any tutor – but the right tutor for their child’s needs.
“Sometimes kids need a lot of structure, and need a teacher that has just that. Some need a fun and engaging personality to make it positive and nurturing. So really knowing your child and what they respond to best to is going to be very helpful,” she said.
It’s also important that a tutor understands curriculum, and how it benefits a student long-term. “Not just completing an assignment, but seeing what the long-term impact of that assignment is on their learning. Is it about vocabulary development, or learning comprehension skills or are we learning this because we are ultimately practicing writing skills?”
She said something that usually throws parents off is common core – a method of learning different from how they learned subjects as a kid. For this reason, Steron said it’s important a tutor has an understanding of those newer methods of learning. Not just that, but they should also understand the technological platforms a student is using. “Every school has different technology platforms. A lot of kids are using Google Classroom, some are using Microsoft Teams, some are using Seesaw, some things have to be done on paper, some online,” Steron said.
She said parents need to consider if a child works better in a group setting, with other peers. “It’s important for kids to have that chance to socialize, make learning fun and bounce ideas off each other,” she said.
For now, Steron said tutors are especially helpful in closing the gap from last Spring, where students fell behind academically at the start of the pandemic. “They were struggling before the Spring, then they didn’t learn for six months, so now they’re even further behind. So we’re trying to close those gaps,” she said.
Staff at Sylvan Learning also said each tutor goes through a background check, requiring references to make sure parents feel safe and comfortable. Steron said the team of tutors comes from a variety of backgrounds, and are trained to provide individualized learning to students.