In my home of Portland, OR we have just been told that we will be homeschooling until at least Jan. 28. If you can read the tea leaves of what they are really saying, you cannot help but reach the conclusion that we will be homeschooling for the entire school year. When the year started I made the choice of using a tutor for homeschooling.
So why am I using a tutor for homeschooling? When the school year started I became distressed rather quickly. I have kids that are in first grade and kindergarten. Kids this age cannot just go online on their own to learn. I knew I needed help and I decided to find a tutor to supplement their education. What I found in my research was that there does not seem to be anyone that does this specifically. I soon found that I would have to develop my own system and then get the resources and people I needed to implement that system.
Once I made the decision of using a tutor for homeschooling, I was quickly struck by how little information there was for the specific purpose. It was easy to find tutors that could supplement a child’s education, and there was also plenty of information about how to homeschool your kids.
What did not seem to exist was a resource about how to create the quasi private-public education that I wanted. So through some trial and error, I have created a system that I think is working well for both me and my kids that includes using a tutor for homeschooling.
Steps for Using a Tutor For Homeschooling
Once I saw that what I needed was not readily available, I started to formulate a plan. The school provided its platform and I would use that as a foundation.
The rest was going to take quite a bit of interaction on my part because I neither had the tools nor the experience to give them a quality education. Based on that I decided on using a tutor for homeschooling for a number of reasons:
- The public school system seemed totally unprepared for this. It seemed like they hoped to be doing in-person schooling and then when that was not an option they quickly slapped together a plan for homeschooling
- I am not a teacher! I do not give my kids their vaccinations nor do I do their twice-yearly dental cleanings. How am I at all qualified to give them an education when I have no training and no experience?
- The “plan” the school put together consisted of 3-4 zoom calls per day covering different subjects and then online activities in platforms like Seesaw, Dreambox, and Lexia. I think this is the bare minimum, and I do not blame the school so much because I do not believe they have the funding, training, or infrastructure to do much else.
Since I have to pay for this, I am creating a quasi private-public education for my kids. I am not happy about the cost, but I would be far unhappier with my kids getting a substandard education, especially in these very formative years. So since this seems to be uncharted territory, I had to do some quick thinking on the fly for using a tutor for homeschooling.
Finding a Tutor
Like most things these days, I started with a quick Google search for tutors in my area. I tended to find agencies that would act as go-betweens. They will all tell you they screen tutors and help to match you with the right tutor. How true this really is may be open to interpretation but the alternative seems to be you doing this research and interviewing on your own.
I ended up with a company called Tutor Doctor. It started with setting a meeting with one of the principals of the company to come out and meet with me and my kids. We discussed what I was looking for and what level of education the kids were at.
After that, they began the search for a tutor. Once they found one, they sent me information about the tutor with specific emphasis on her background and qualifications. Once that looked good to me, I set up a schedule of work for the tutor and my kids.
One very important note to make here:
You will pay far more (in my opinion) by going the route of an agency. In fact, it is probably fair to say that you may pay three times what you would pay if you found a tutor directly. In fact, now that I know what I am looking for, I may go that route at some point during the school year.
I started this way because I had no idea what I was doing or how to find a tutor on my own and I felt time was of the essence in using a tutor for homeschooling.
What the Tutor Needed From Me
When day one arrived I was excited. I had scheduled the tutor to come for one hour on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday mornings. When she arrived, I was ready to hand things off to her and let her go. Then she asked, “where is the curriculum I am supposed to follow?”
Now I do not know if the company just left this part out or assumed I would have this but I was a little shocked. This drove home this point:
Tutors work to SUPPLEMENT a child’s education, but not necessarily determine what that education is.
My first thought was that I could just have her walk through the kid’s online assignments with them but I thought that is what I could do myself. I also thought that I was going the tutor route in the first place because I thought their online platforms lacked the in-depth educational experience I was looking for for my kids.
So my next step was to create their curriculum. I asked their teachers about this but they could not provide much more than they were already providing. Their thought seemed to be for the kids to do their “online” school day and they meet with their tutor afterward and use that platform the school district created as the basis for her work.
Instead, I found some curriculum books for first graders on Amazon. I got those and told the tutor to use that as the curriculum. So now they were on two paths: the one the school provided and the one I provide.
I do not think these things hinder each other or at cross-purposes. I see value in both and given that they are getting far less education than they would be doing in-person school, any educational opportunities they get during the day will be beneficial.
Is Using a Tutor For Homeschooling Working for My Kids?
Of course, there’s no way I could accurately answer this because there’s no way for me to make an apples to apples comparison of what their education would be like with or without the tutor without just getting rid of the tutor to see what happens. I do not really want to try that.
What I can say in my experience in using a tutor for homeschooling is that when they are with the tutor they are:
- Much more engaged in the process of learning
- The results seem far more tangible
- There seems to be far more learned on a per hour basis compared to zoom calls and online assignments
The most beneficial part of using a tutor for homeschooling is the human interaction involved. When kids are on zoom calls it is difficult for them to interact with their teacher or with the other students. This of course is due to the limitations of the technology involved.
In the same vein, all of their online platforms and assignments carry with them the same limitations. As an example, both of my kids have a music teacher that offers assignments on an online platform. With music being such a collaborative process when you are trying to learn, you could quickly see why trying to do that online is so problematic.
One thing to remember about going down the road of using a tutor for homeschooling is that it would seem there is no right or wrong answer here. My goal is to get my kids the best education I can get. That does not mean I set out a plan on September 1 and will blindly stick with it for the entire school year.
It is my feeling that using a tutor for homeschooling is not just a great supplement to their education, but in many ways, it will be the foundation of their education. It may be true that for older kids, what the school district is providing is plenty for them; however, for kids that are very young like mine, I felt that using a tutor for homeschooling was absolutely necessary.
Where else can you find a tutor besides and agency?
Well, this may become the topic of another post down the road! My first thought was to look at websites like Care.com to find a tutor in the same way you might find a babysitter. The trick of course is that you will be required to do all of the homework to figure out if this tutor can do the job you ask them. My feeling is that now that I know what I’m looking for and now that I know I can provide them the materials and curriculum they need, I feel confident I can find a tutor on my own.
What does the school and the teachers think of this?
I honestly think they are caught between a rock and a hard place. They most likely know that having a tutor is good for the kids but they are somewhat bound by the guidelines set out by the school district. So while they don’t hinder using a tutor I don’t know that they are a whole lot of help either. Either way, they really have no say in how I choose to give my kids an education during these crazy times. They have very simple criteria to prove that the kids “attended“ school for a day and as long as I’m doing that I don’t know that there’s much they can say about what else I might be doing.