As Massachusetts school districts finalize plans for fall learning amid the coronavirus pandemic, some parents are making plans of their own and hiring tutors to keep their kids on track.
Alexandra Berube, the owner of Boston Tutoring Services in Dracut, which provides one-on-one in-person and online instruction for students in grades K-12 said they have received a lot of calls.
"We're getting more requests from families looking for remote schooling support, helping their kids keep up with their assignments, keeping them from falling behind, staying on task," Berube said. "The tutor would be able to either follow the remote schooling plan or develop a completely separate homeschooling curriculum in line with the Massachusetts state framework."
Also popular this year are academic pods, where parents split the cost of a tutor for a small group of kids in the same grade level.
Varsity Tutors, one of the country's largest online tutoring companies, said it has also seen a spike in clients.
"The most common thing parents are doing this fall is one or two sessions an hour at a time per week to make sure that there is personal attention there, with the option to ramp that up as mid-terms, finals, college entrance tests -- those kinds of things come up," the company's Chief Academic Officer, Brian Galvin said.
Galvin said parents of elementary and middle school students are opting for one tutor to oversee their child's work. He said high school students would benefit from having a tutor with expertise in each subject they are studying.
Hiring a tutor can be pricey though. Both companies said the average cost is in the $60-75 an hour range.
Boston Tutoring Services offers bulk rates, so the more tutoring hours you purchase, the lower the rate.
If you are going to take the plunge, Galvin said to make sure the tutor you hire is experienced with the online format.
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"You don't want to be paying, again, a dollar, two dollars a minute for someone to get used to zoom controls and things," he says. "Really good tutors, they are drag, drop and go. They know exactly how to use the format to get the right examples and demonstrations in front of a student right away, and they know how to get the most out of a student."
If you're looking for an in-home tutor, Berube said to make sure that person has had a Cori background check, has a minimum of a bachelor's degree, and is familiar with the Massachusetts state framework so they can follow the student's curriculum. Her staff is also following safety protocols.
"We are asking families and tutors to wear masks when they both feel that is appropriate, if they can be outside or at least in an outdoor area with a porch or a room with open windows, that's ideal," Berube said. "Handwashing, hand sanitizer, social distancing, if they can be a little further apart using a whiteboard for instruction, those are some of the measures we're using."
Varsity Tutors is offering some free online group classes this fall, including some fun enrichment classes and more academic core curriculum classes, so that all students can take part.