Small Group Tutoring: What Size Is Best?

Small Group Tutoring: What Size Is Best?

When we hear the word “tutoring,” many of us think about 1:1 lessons between a tutor and student. But many tutoring sessions involve small groups, which can be just as effective, if not more so. When is small group tutoring better? Naturally, it all depends on the situation — particularly the needs of the students involved and the subject matter being taught. 

But apart from determining when a group lesson is the most viable, another crucial question we should ask is “what size should a group lesson be?” At what point does a small tutoring group become a small classroom, which defeats the purpose of the personalized tutoring concept? Let’s dig in and find out!

In general, small group tutoring sessions can stimulate engagement, with students feeling empowered and motivated by one another. It’s a totally different dynamic than a single student-to-tutor environment. But there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, and student needs must be taken into consideration before making any decisions. 

In the briefing “A Principal’s Guide to Intensive Reading Interventions for Struggling Readers in Reading First Schools,” the author cites small groups as “the most efficient way to increase the intensity of instruction for struggling readers.” The benefits pointed out include targeted attention to student needs plus more opportunities for students to “respond and receive feedback.” The paper concludes that 3 to 5 students are ideal for that given situation. 

But there are other circumstances and considerations to keep in mind. Below, we’ve outlined some of the more essential things to consider before putting together a small group tutoring practice. 

Keeping classes “fun-sized”

1:1 tutoring lessons can be fun, but throwing a handful of peers in the mix alters the landscape, usually for the better. Having “fun” in a tutoring class might sound like a luxury to some, but savvy tutors know that fun activities are part of an active learning strategy. As noted in a Harvard study, active learning gets students more involved, enhancing their understanding and retention of material. The nontraditional approaches of active learning can definitely be more fun than listening to a lecture. But what’s the best size for a small group tutoring session? 

Brainspring reports studies that suggest small groups retain the essential elements of 1:1 lessons when limited to between 3 and 6 students. In comparison, EdResearch for Recovery identifies 3 to 4 students as the preferred target, arguing that “moving beyond this number can quickly become small group instruction, which is less personalized and requires a higher degree of skill to do well.”

Teaching students with disabilities

The maximum number of recommended small group students drops to between 2 and 4 for students coping with learning disabilities. Such special education sessions may require additional planning, enhanced instructional support, and perhaps different materials that take extra time to use. 

For teaching students with disabilities, Reading Rockets offers tips based on research from the Office of Special Education Programs. The suggested alternatives include peer tutoring, cross-age tutoring, small learning groups, and combined formats. 

“Smaller groups appear to be better,” Reading Rockets observes. “Groups of 3 to 4 students are usually more efficient than larger groups of 5 to 7 students in terms of teacher and student time, lower cost, increased instructional time, increased peer interaction, and improved generalization of skills.”

Staying cognizant of learning styles

Educators at all levels should take into consideration the diverse learning styles of each student. Tutors may not always have the time or resources to deep dive into their pupils’ inherently preferred styles, but should nonetheless be aware of how such differences impact learning. 

For instance, the VARK model considers four distinct learning styles — Visual, Auditory, Reading/Writing, and Kinesthetic. It may be hard to identify in advance of class scheduling which students are more prone to which styles, then find compatible students to add to the group. When in doubt, smaller is better. 

Age and maturity levels 

Another variable that impacts teaching efficacy is the age and maturity levels of the students in attendance. Younger students may be more apt to distract each other, but then again, teenagers often do so even more! 

The ability to focus (or lack thereof), however, is only one of the many factors at play when it comes to age and maturity. As educator Lisette Partelow wrote for U.S.News, “Teaching young students also requires some pretty good detective skills, as students don’t necessarily have the language or awareness to explain their misunderstandings, feelings or behavior.” 

In other words, it may be tough to tell when younger students are struggling if they cannot explain what’s going on inside. Tutors need to work with groups that are small enough to allow time for monitoring and gauging how well lessons are sinking in. 

Ability to track student progress

Tied to the above is the ability of tutors to actively track student progress over time. Some tutoring sessions are aimed at helping students who’ve fallen behind to catch up. Others are more focused on building advanced competencies to prepare for upcoming challenges. Either way, the tutor’s job involves establishing markers and measuring demonstrable success. 

When one student in the group begins to lag, a course adjustment may be required. Tutors can’t merely teach at the pace of their most high-needs students, but they also can’t let a single student falter. 

It’s imperative to closely track how each student is doing, and then intervene with 1:1 instruction or extra practice work as needed. By the same token, students who are ahead of the curve shouldn’t feel like they’re being held back. When the disparity between learners is too great, the group as a whole suffers. 

Experience of the tutor

EdResearch for Recovery made another excellent point by bringing up the qualifications of the tutors themselves, declaring that “teachers might be better able to tutor up to four students whereas paraprofessionals and volunteers may do better with one or two students at a time.” Seasoned tutors will be more adept at juggling higher numbers, whereas those without experience or training should focus on 1:1 sessions. 

Considering affordability factors

Small group tutoring is generally more affordable for the students (or their parents). This is a vital factor, as students around the country continue to struggle in the aftermath of the Covid pandemic’s darkest days. 1:1 tutoring sessions are out of many family’s budgets, so group lessons come to the rescue by enabling tutors to lower prices, helping remove that barrier to access. 

Simultaneously, tutors can potentially generate significant additional income for their tutoring business by attracting students who otherwise couldn’t come. However, the key is to ensure groups are small enough to be effective for tutoring, and that they don’t turn into micro classes

Choosing suitable subject matter

Some academic subject matters are better suited to small group learning than other subjects. However, even subjects like reading, which may seem to require a more 1:1 approach, can be effectively taught in groups. 

Teacher Magazine reported that Abracadabra, a small group reading program centered on “key skills of comprehension, vocabulary, fluency, phonemic awareness and phonics” incorporates individual and paired practice work as part of the group approach. The article goes on to note that sessions with 1 to 5 students allow for “more time to practice” while tutors “provide more individualized attention to help students overcome difficult problems.” 

While there is no consensus about which subjects are more suitable for small group tutoring, students and parents can find small group lessons for virtually any topic. From core subjects like math, science, grammar, and writing to enrichment courses such as music, foreign languages, or public speaking, there are endless flexible options available. 

Selecting the best tutoring platform or software

When deciding how large or small a group lesson should be, a final consideration is the software or online platform being used (if any). Basic teleconferencing software can suffice in a pinch, but to truly unleash the power of remote learning, educators and schools receiving government funding for tutoring are wise to invest in a professional tutoring platform like Pearl.

The ability to scale up is a vital consideration, but so is offering breakout sessions. Breakouts are invaluable, especially when a small group needs to temporarily be made even smaller. Tutoring software Pearl comes with several handy, built-in features while also offering custom design opportunities for institutions that have specific requirements not currently available. 

If you’d like a demo of tutoring platform Pearl, get in touch with us here.

What Is a Virtual Classroom?

What Is a Virtual Classroom?

The recent COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the adoption of virtual classrooms across the globe but what exactly is a virtual classroom? The concept of remote learning has evolved significantly over the years with the rise of affordable personal computers and internet service. These days, students of all ages from anywhere in the world can easily engage in learning activities within their own home thanks to the rise of virtual classrooms and virtual classroom software like Pearl. 

Just like traditional classrooms, a virtual classroom utilizes a trained educator to share information and knowledge with one or more pupils. 

A virtual classroom is still a classroom — it simply doesn’t require anyone to be there physically! Instead, participants meet online by using webcams, microphones, and an intermediary software program. 

While the role of the teacher is obviously indispensable, the virtual classroom software used is also critical. Why does the virtual classroom software platform matter? To answer that, we need look no further than recent K-12 experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

To minimize exposure risk, schools around the country issued students devices so they could learn from home. However, many K-12 districts soon discovered that student engagement lagged during the remote lessons, leading to significant learning loss. This was due, in part, to the overuse of no-frills video-teleconferencing software like Zoom, instead of educational software specifically designed to bolster the remote learning experience. 

An empty room isn’t automatically a “classroom,” and a student’s mere attendance, be it physical or virtual, doesn’t mean they’re prepared to learn. Experienced teachers know that to effectively teach a subject, a suitable learning environment has to be established first. Teachers must take the spaces they’re given and transform them into learning environments, then find creative ways to grab and hold student attention, elicit responses, and keep them engaged. 

Video conferencing apps like Zoom give teachers nothing to work with, but tutoring software like Pearl offers teachers a features-packed virtual classroom specifically designed to boost student participation. Tutoring platforms like Pearl dramatically reduce the effort teachers have to put into transforming their virtual classroom into a proper learning environment. Instead, they can focus all their attention on the actual teaching part of their job.  

Made for online educators by online educators, Pearl’s virtual classrooms offer all the bells and whistles educators want, plus many handy administrative features as well. 

With Pearl, tutors can: 

  • Easily share materials, including documents, slides, or videos 
  • Pull up virtual whiteboards that let participants write or draw (providing a valuable layer of physicality in a virtual setting)
  • Share screens to quickly display content students need to view live in-class
  • Record screens to capture tutoring session elements for later review

Pearl is much more than a virtual classroom platform, though. Pearl also offers helpful scheduling features that allow tutors to view and manage their lessons at a glance and even send out session reminders to students. Furthermore, user management functions make it a breeze to keep things organized from one control panel. There’s even a storefront for teachers who offer professional tutoring services and need to manage client payments. 

As educators, we created Pearl because we saw a need for an all-in-one tutoring software to help educators do their jobs better in this era of hybrid and online learning. Naturally, when tutors have the tools they need, they can better serve students who’ve suffered a tremendous learning loss due to the disruption caused by COVID-19. 

If you’ve ever dreamed of a remote learning platform that can “virtually” do it all, Pearl might make your dream come true! Get in touch with us today to learn more about how you can manage and grow your tutoring business.

5 Signs Your Child Needs a High-Impact Tutor

5 Signs Your Child Needs a High-Impact Tutor

In a recent article, we defined high-impact tutoring and discussed the benefits of hiring a high-impact tutor for your child. If you’re still unsure if your child might need more help to achieve optimal academic success, scroll below to discover the 5 signs that your child needs a high-impact tutor and then review our tips for finding one:

1. Your child is falling behind in school

If your child struggles to grasp basic concepts and topics, making it near impossible for them to understand complex ideas, they may benefit from a high-impact tutor. Your child may also not be at the same level as his or her peers in class, a disadvantage which tends to get worse as each academic year passes by. But with high-impact learning sessions, they’ll receive personalized materials to fill in the gaps.

2. Your child lacks the right learning tools

You may also notice that your child lacks certain learning tools and techniques necessary to expand their understanding across multiple subjects. A high-impact tutor can teach your child specific tips and tricks to keep up with learning demands. Having high-impact tutoring means there’s an expert who can heighten your child’s ability to build a strong learning foundation with the best tools at their disposal.

3. Your child struggles with focusing in class

Does your child have a hard time focusing in school? Perhaps they’re easily distracted in a classroom full of other students, or maybe you notice they’ve been consistently missing important lectures? With the help of high-impact tutoring, your child can review the lessons at their own pace, and learn how to maximize their attention span and improve their focus so they can better retain their lessons.

4. Your child is gearing up for exams

If your child is about to take an important entrance or national exam, he or she will need extra help to study the necessary topics and subjects included in the tests. High-impact tutoring sessions can give pointed materials to cover all grounds and a high-impact tutor can ensure that your child has an optimal chance of succeeding at their exams.

2. Your child is highly curious and enjoys in-depth learning

Does your child enjoy learning new things independently? Do their current classroom structures not provide the environment for them to explore subjects in depth? With high-impact tutoring sessions, your child can truly chase his or her curiosities and help them achieve a more in-depth understanding of the subjects they seem particularly passionate about. 

Tips for Parents Looking for the Best High-Impact Tutor

The benefits of high-impact tutoring are clear, but how does one find the best high-impact tutor or high-impact tutoring companies? Let’s look at the ways you can identify one that will help your child optimize their education:

  • Find tutors who will build personal relationships with your child. The best high-impact tutor will personalize learning approaches and materials, incorporating your child’s interests with their academic needs. They’ll also teach according to the student’s strengths to compensate for their weaknesses.

  • Find tutors who are good listeners and communicators—both with you and your child. Collaboration is key to success. You want your high-impact tutor to set goals, create benchmarks, and plan backward to set your child up for the best academic outcomes.

  • Find tutors with specific expertise. Depending on your child’s needs, you want to find a tutor who can help fill the gaps in your child’s knowledge. High-impact tutors should engage with your child, providing opportunities for stimulating, hands-on work instead of boring lessons and worksheets. 

Ask potential tutors how they plan to measure the growth and progress of your child, and how they plan to check in with you. More than just another teacher, high-impact tutors are long-term partners in your child’s academic success.

Learning loss is not just an issue for children, it affects adults as well. The longer their gaps in learning remain unaddressed, the more difficult it becomes for children to recover and go back to school. Parents also feel this strain, because they only want the best for their children. So, to help your child succeed in school, consider engaging a high-impact tutor.

What Is High-Impact Tutoring?

What Is High-Impact Tutoring?

Is your child struggling to keep up with school? COVID-19 disrupted the education system, but high-impact tutoring is the solution. Learn how your kids can benefit from it.

COVID-19 may be under control for now, but the consequences it left behind continue to affect our lives. In the education sector, student outcomes are now seeing a dramatic drop in subject proficiencies due to disrupted classes.

In fact, more than half (60%) of fourth-graders are failing in math proficiency, and nearly two-thirds are failing in reading. The numbers only get worse among eighth-graders, proving that students across the United States have experienced “learning loss” due to the pandemic. And we need to act fast to turn things around.

Fortunately, several states have already introduced and enacted a policy for introducing high-impact tutor training styles to help students get back on track. High-impact tutoring has proven to be effective in assisting students to achieve better outcomes, and increases their learning capability by up to 15 months across grade levels.

Let’s discuss why high-impact tutoring is so significant and why it’s an excellent investment for your child, especially during these unprecedented times.

What Is High-Impact Tutoring and How Does It Work? 

High-impact tutoring focuses on meeting individual students’ needs and building a close relationship with them. It’s an approach that aims to understand what areas the student struggles with and adapts the teaching strategy accordingly. This methodology is meant to complement traditional schooling. It does not replace it.

According to the National Student Support Accelerator, high-impact tutoring revolves around a growth cycle

A student first receives high-quality materials at a high-dosage, where they study for at least 2-3 hours per week. The lessons are then integrated into school, where the trained tutor will see how the student is performing. Using the results as indicators of the student’s capabilities, the tutor adjusts the materials and continues teaching.

Source: National Student Support Accelerator

Compared to regular teachers, high-impact tutors are supported by ongoing coaching and accountability. They are highly knowledgeable about the subjects they teach and are skilled at building relationships-something that’s crucial for effective teaching.

Moreover, high-impact tutoring content meets state standards and applies the latest educational research. These materials build on classroom lessons and prioritize quality over matching the school’s curriculum. In other words, they are uniquely designed according to the student’s needs, not just the requirements needed for passing classroom exams.

High-impact tutoring programs uphold 3 core pillars: 

  1. Equity: All students should have access to the program, where the teachers are intentionally trained to conduct sessions with equity at its core.
  1. Safety: Multiple policies and systems are also in place to guarantee a safe learning environment for the child. 
  1. Cohesion: All elements of the learning program are designed to work together as a complete package.

Why Should You Choose a High-Impact Tutor for Your Child?

To quote Monica Bhatt, the senior research director at the University of Chicago’s Education Lab, “[a]s education leaders look for ways to help students recover academically from the pandemic, a new study points to intensive, high-dosage tutoring as a potential solution.”

There are a number of design principles that make high-impact tutoring effective. EdResearch for Recovery provides reliable data and reasons as to why it produces significant learning gains for students, providing help for those who have fallen behind academically:

  • Frequency: High-impact tutoring is delivered at a high dosage for optimum outcomes. Having at least 3 sessions per week, for 30 to 60 minutes each, is the minimum frequency required to get optimal results. 
  • Personnel: The tutors are equipped with unique skills beyond a regular teacher’s ability. They are not your typical teachers-they may even be AmeriCorps members and teaching assistants that are just as effective at tutoring both one-on-one and small groups.
  • Measurement: High-impact tutoring uses data to assess students and customize instructions. For example, the Reading Partners program conducts mid-year and end-of-year assessments to update student materials, giving tutors the data necessary to create personalized lessons.
  • Curriculum: High-impact tutoring content reinforces classroom content to strengthen the student’s understanding. In fact, tutoring interventions increased student achievement by 3 to 15 months of learning.
  • Delivery Mode: Research shows that distance learning is just as effective as in-person classes. In fact, a recent evaluation of the Saga Education tutoring program found that a blended or hybrid model increases student learning just as much as expensive, in-person tutoring does.
  • Group Size: High-impact tutoring ensures that class size won’t hinder personalized instructions, making sure that they are only grouped by skill level and required teaching. Large-scale tutoring programs still generate an average effect size of 0.25 standard deviations.
  • Focus: All students can benefit from high-impact tutoring. Younger students generally benefit the most from reading-focused materials, while older ones benefit more from math-related subjects. A study of Math tutoring programs saw a reduction in math course failures by 50%, and increased the overall math grades of ninth and tenth graders.
  • Relationships: High-impact tutoring builds relationships to better understand students’ needs. Moreover, tutoring programs built on trust and connection with the students support a wide range of benefits, including the students’ social-emotional well-being and outlook towards education.
  • Scheduling: High-impact tutoring during the school day results in twice the amount of learning gains, as shown by a recent meta-analysis of tutoring. It’s largely because tutoring during school days facilitates a more learning-focused culture.
  • Prioritization: The program targets all students in a lower-performing grade-removing the negative perception that tutoring is a punishment for below-average students. It also mitigates learning loss from COVID-19, where inequality in educational outcomes and access to professional tutors have increased.

As you can see, the effectiveness of high-impact tutoring is backed by strong evidence. If you’re a parent who is concerned about your child’s academic standing, especially if they’re grappling with COVID-19-fueled learning loss, choosing high-impact tutoring means giving them a chance to boost their learning and improve their outlook towards education.

FAQs About High-Impact Tutoring

If you still have concerns about high-impact tutoring, here are a few answers to frequently asked questions:

Q: Is there a difference between high-impact tutoring, high-intensity tutoring, or high-dosage tutoring? 

A: No, there is no difference. All of them are one-on-one or small group instructional programs designed to heighten a student’s ability to learn and increase their stocked knowledge.

Q: Isn’t it better to just let my child repeat the grade? 

There is no straightforward answer to this, as some students will certainly benefit from repeating a grade level. However, repeating a grade may backfire by hurting the child’s confidence and potentially increasing the chances of them dropping out of school eventually. Giving them the opportunity to accelerate instead will be much healthier in the long run.

Q: How will high-impact tutoring policy changes affect students? 

A: The federal government can help scale high-impact tutoring programs to students by increasing funding for school districts, expanding national service programs, and issuing guidelines to how the tutoring programs can serve all students.

How to Stay Connected with Parents While Working Remotely

How to Stay Connected with Parents While Working Remotely

Why do you need to stay connected with your students’ parents?

Staying connected with parents is an important part of running a successful tutoring company. Your students are the people you interact with regularly so their experience, as well as their opinion of your instruction, is of great value. However, it is the parents who have invested in your services and trusted you with their most prized possession(s). It is these parents who will decide if your service is a worthwhile investment, and they will be the ones to share their opinions with other people.

What do parents need to know?

It’s important that you stay connected with parents for the purpose of logistics, like scheduling, school assignments, billing, etc. In addition to these logistical details, parents want to know how their students are progressing as they are tutored. Parents don’t always know what’s going on with their students at school until there’s a bigger problem, so as the students’ tutor or academic coach it’s important to find a way to communicate with parents regularly about their students’ progress and there are several reasons why. The first reason is that parents have come to you to solve a problem. They need to know that the problem is being addressed. Another reason to maintain regular communication is in the case that there are any significant issues (i.e. with the students’ behavior, ability to learn what you’re teaching them, poor attendance, etc.), parents should know sooner rather than later. If the parents are the last to know about these issues, they might make assumptions about the quality of your instruction. Lastly, it’s important for you to personalize the experience that you are offering parents. Reaching out regularly with details and anecdotes about the child’s challenges and successes demonstrates a deeper level of commitmentment to their child’s academic and personal growth.

How should you go about staying in touch with parents?

The idea that distance learning is going to negatively affect your ability to stay connected with all your students and their parents just aren’t true. In the age of smartphones, email, texting, social media, and video conferencing technology, we have more than enough tools to maintain communication with parents. In fact, these are tools all educators should be exploring and implementing to communicate with parents regardless of a pandemic. You may even find that there are some parents who prefer to communicate virtually because of the work and/or family responsibilities they have to tend to. Think about it – you have a busy day at work and/or you’re running a household with kids – the last thing you really want to do is run across town to a 15-minute meeting with your child’s teacher(s) or tutor. The opportunity cost is too high. The same parents may be a lot more inclined to speak to you on the phone or jump on a video conference call given the convenience. 

Of course, there are always exceptions to every rule, and certain parents prefer to meet face to face. But with parents and their children always on the go, fast and easy, regular exchanges of information may be best. These parents want to be able to interact in a time and space that works best for them. When you are providing a service like tutoring, the burden of communication lies in your court, not on the parent or child. Nothing you do should be adding to the parents’ plate.

How can you let parents know you care to create buy-in?

All that being said, you are a business. You need to figure out how to make parents want to communicate with you and to get them to emotionally buy into the tutoring that you are offering as well as the supportive experience you provide. Keep parents updated regularly on the child’s progress in a way that works best for the parent, ask for feedback, and provide them with strategies and/or tools for helping their children practice their skills. 

In addition, reaching out to parents with resources, activities, and/or strategies that they can work on with their students is a good way to stay connected. Reaching out to families during the change in seasons and/or during the holiday seasons, to say hello, or to share fun facts, is a good way of letting your students’ families know that you care about your students beyond their tutoring sessions. Parents have their pick of the litter when it comes to tutors, but it is the quality of the connection that you make with students and their parents that will determine their commitment to a working relationship with you. Willingness to go the extra mile will determine short-term versus long-term relationships, and ultimately, a successful tutoring business!

How to Create Mom Pods

How to Create Mom Pods

The Emergence of Pandemic Pods

With public schools still sitting in limbo about what school will look like in the fall, parents are taking the reign and organizing their own ad hoc schooling for their children. In the past few weeks, the emergence of self-contained networks of people also referred to as “mom pods”, “pandemic pods”, “quaranteams”, “microschools”, or “bubbles”, are being organized in an effort for families to have a safe amount of social interaction and prevent isolation. With many school districts announcing plans to start the school year with a full distance learning model, more and more families are banding together to create pods so that kids don’t fall behind and parents have support while they’re working. 

After this past Springs’ steep learning curve of distance learning for teachers, students, and parents alike, families were hoping for a “normal” return to school in the fall. But when it became obvious that a vaccine for COVID-19 wouldn’t be available any time soon, parents started thinking outside of the box. Some families, with the financial means, plan to hire private tutors to help their students stay on track. Others are organizing into “pods” with like-minded parents who may have children with similar ages, interests, values, and/or that live in close proximity.  

How Do Pods Work? 

If you’re a mom or dad who is curious about starting a pod, you should know that there really is no “one size fits all” model. Each family has unique social and emotional needs, work demands, health considerations, schedules, etc. to be taken into account. If the goal is to support your kid’s education and social needs, it will be important to connect with other parents who have the same priorities. Finding families who are willing to collaborate and support each other in balancing the children’s needs with the adult’s work/life balance is key. There are a lot of important questions to ask as you consider who to include in your pod including: 

  • Do your work schedules align or conflict? 
  • Do your strengths and weaknesses complement each other? 
  • Will the kids get along in both the learning and social environment?
  • Does everyone in the pod know the risks? 
  • Have you laid clear ground rules about everyone’s expectations? 

Once you’ve found your dream team, you need to decide who will be in charge of facilitating the kid’s learning. Will it be a parent of the group? This can be a great fit, however, in the case where all parents are working full-time another option is to hire a tutor or teacher to facilitate learning at home. In some pods, parents are choosing to forgo public school distance learning and the teacher or tutor they hire will assume the full scope of responsibilities related to the children’s’ education. In other pods, kids continue distance learning with their school, but will also now have an in-person parent or tutor to make sure they get all of the support they need and stay on track. These models aren’t limited exclusively to distance learning, they can also be extremely helpful with hybrid models where kids are only attending school in-person part of the time and are distance learning for the remaining time at home. If you elect to transition to homeschooling, it is important to understand the local laws and requirements. 

The reality is that public schools may be moving in and out of distance, hybrid, and in-person learning models as COVID-19 cases fluctuate. Having the security of knowing your kids will have the educational and social/emotional support from a pod in the face of this uncertainty can provide a sense of security and routine that ultimately benefits everyone. Also, by organizing pods, families share the cost of the parent/tutor’s time and expertise that a single-family may not be able to afford on their own. It is important to understand the legal considerations with homeschooling, and the accreditation standards required for students to gain acceptance into college.

What Role Does Technology Play?

One of the main reasons families are choosing pods that have some element of in-person learning and social interaction is to reduce the amount of time that children spend in front of a screen. Children who are isolated at home are missing out on social development opportunities that in-person schooling provides. For younger children, having a teacher and peers present to practice sharing, conflict resolution, teamwork, etc, is especially important for these developmental milestones. Minimizing the use of technology is much more realistic for younger children with the support of a pod.

For students in junior high or high school, pods may still be a really effective alternative to distance learning, however, technology and online learning will still be a critical part of learning for several reasons. In the case of one parent or one tutor leading the pod, it’s likely that they won’t have deep understanding across a broad range of subjects (i.e.Physics, Calc 2, and Microeconomics). The reality is that families may not be able to find a teacher locally that can serve all of their students’ needs. However, with online learning, parents now have access to tutors from all over the world who bring unique experience and expertise to the table. Pods may choose one parent to facilitate schedules and follow through with older kids, and hire specialize online tutors who can meet with their children one-on-one or in small group settings once or twice a week to ensure progress in more advanced subject matters, help with ACT/SAT test prep, and help with college preparedness. 

Learning pods are only limited by your creativity and your wallet size. While it may be a temporary solution to cope with the complexities around life during a pandemic, the question of the lasting impact on racial and socioeconomic learning gaps that already exist is top of mind for many educators and community leaders as more families are choosing this path. 

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