As K-12 students begin a new school year in virtual classrooms, countless parents must learn on the fly how to help their children adjust to the new digital school experience. As classrooms shift to Google Meet or Zoom sessions, some parents have become teachers, thereby making school increasingly stressful for both students and parents. Not only are young learners struggling with distance learning academically, but they also keep experiencing social and emotional roadblocks.

As a parent, you want to guarantee that your child receives a healthy dose of social interaction, in addition to valuable learning experiences. Advanced telecommuting technology – like Skype, Google Meet, and Zoom – allows students to connect from the safety of their homes. Nonetheless, parents can utilize plenty of other online learning and mental health resources to make the best out of the “homeschool” situation brought on by COVID-19.

Learning Pods: A Safer Choice for In-Person Group Learning

Also referred to as a micro-school, a learning pod consists of a group of students (~3 to 10) learning together, outside of a classroom with an in-person session. Through collaborative lesson plans and limited contact with outside members, learning pods are an excellent way to create a greater level of normalcy for your student during COVID-19.

Creating a learning pod requires parents to organize a group of like-minded students who can meet together for in-person learning. In some learning pods, parents will take turns supervising students. In other pods, parents pool together the costs needed to hire a full-time teacher to work directly with students.

How Safe are Learning Pods?

During these uncertain times, parents can foster a safe environment for students to thrive academically through a learning pod. To better prevent the spread of COVID-19, most learning pods implement strict rules:

  • Students in the learning pod agree to socially distance and follow proper guidelines when outside of the pod
  • Students must wear masks and adhere to adequate hygiene procedures during the online session (i.e., hand washing, social distancing, hand sanitizer, etc.)
  • Parents must have a set plan for when a pod member tests positive for COVID-19
  • The pod agrees to open communication regarding the health and well-being of pod member’s family and home life
  • The pod is limited to 5 or fewer students; although pods can be up to 10 people, the fewer people, the less risk of spreading and contracting the virus

Who Leads Learning Pods?

When it comes to proctoring learning pods, parents and students have a multitude of suitable options. There are emerging sites that allow a vetted instructor to teach your pod such as Some tutoring agencies, depending on their suite of services, allow for a pod to receive paid expert instruction to their micro-school with parents splitting the cost. This is the more suitable choice for parents with children who struggle to adapt to the new online curriculum.

While formal teaching is readily available, a learning pod can also function as a close-knit study group. This learning pod would be a group of students who can socialize and learn from each other like in regular classroom environments. This way, it minimizes the parents out of pocket cost while acting as a study group rather than an alternative to virtual learning.

Online Tutoring: Receive More Help With Less Risk

While online tutoring isn’t a new concept, its popularity has surged in recent months due to the pandemic lockdown. Teachers can no longer stay after class or provide sufficient in-person office hours to work with every student’s needs. Although online tutoring can be costly, the expense is worthwhile helping students understand school material better.

Whether your child is in kindergarten, middle school, or high school, there are free online tutoring resources – like Khan Academy, Academic Earth, Coursera, and Udemy – to aid in their success. COVID-19 fundamentally changed the education system by transitioning to at-home learning. Many parents are not ready or properly equipped to assume the role of teacher, so online tutoring resources can relieve the burden of becoming the teacher for parents.

What are the Benefits of Online Tutoring?

During COVID-19, online tutoring provides students with additional help without the risk of exposure to the virus. Rather than going to office hours or large group study programs, online tutors offer one-on-one support to students in the comfort of your home. Students can ask tutors clarification questions, review challenging problems, and receive customized lessons that teachers sometimes cannot offer.

If you are a parent, especially with a high school student, then helping them with schoolwork can seem challenging even when tackling familiar material. Online tutoring provides help to students facing complex topics, including high-level math or Advanced Placement courses.

What if I Cannot Afford Online Tutoring?

Paying for online tutoring is among the top concerns facing parents. Luckily, there are online resources for free or at an affordable cost. Popular tutoring websites often introduce a free trial followed by a tiered-paying system with levels of support you can select based on your needs. Furthermore, more than 2,200 public libraries and multiple colleges have been providing free online tutoring resources to students during these times of virtual learning. You can find your local resources by searching for your college or local library to see if they offer free remote tutoring resources.

Online tutors and learning pods can provide extra resources to students during a time of remote learning. As a parent of a student learning online, patience and understanding remain paramount for success. Taking time to eat as a family, provide brain breaks, and understand that this is uncharted territory for both you and your student are equally important in a student’s success in school. Having open communication with teachers and your student will be the key to success in surviving a school year online.

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