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Can my children get free tutoring?

My kids could use some help in school. The eleven-year-old is struggling in math this year. I never thought of tutoring at home as an option since our income is low, but my son’s teacher says we may qualify for free tutoring online. What is the difference between online tutoring services and homework help services? How well do they work? Does location make a difference (we live in Houston), or is affordable tutoring equally available everywhere? Someone mentioned WyzAnt; is it a legitimate service or scam?

Samantha Stevenson

in Events and Holidays

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Donald Ward on October 22, 2018

In the United States, the federal “No Child Left Behind” law has indeed subsidized tutoring free of charge for low-income students when local public schools perform badly on tests.

This is a relatively new development. While online tutoring services are growing according to https://www.greatschools.org/gk/articles/free-tutoring-no-child-left-behind/, most students who qualify for tutoring aren’t getting it. It’s not yet clear how many kids who are receiving online tutoring are getting the help they need.

While search engines or groups of classmates can provide free homework help, a professional coach or tutor should do more than just check answers or walk students through math problems. Academic coaches may offer more general study skills and encouragement. Tutors’ goal is usually to teach specific skills and concepts; professional tutors usually have at least bachelors’ degrees.

“At home tutoring” programs no longer require tutors to visit students’ homes physically. In fact, websites like Indeed.com actively recruit retired teachers in remote rural areas for part-time “work at home jobs.” When tutors don’t have to commute, dress, pay union dues, live in town, or even get up early in the morning, they can work cheaper.

Some tutors even work as volunteers with charitable organizations, at no cost to students. Currently, my search engine is showing completely separate lists of “free tutors” and “top rated tutors” in Houston. This could change.

Local regulations differ. Tutors and tutoring services can be accredited in their own state or county, but not in yours. Federal tuition assistance that is available in your area may not apply to the tutoring service you prefer. Subsidized tutoring programs are available only as long as local public schools continue to “fail.” Additionally, online tutoring may or may not work better for an individual child than classroom teaching does. Each of your children receives information in a different way.

You can find recent ratings for “tutoring services near me” (or near some other place) on search engines. WyzAnt and other services offer the chance to choose individual tutors you find congenial. Competitive bidding can make tutoring affordable but also make workplaces hostile.

If your income is low and your local public school’s performance is also low, your kids qualify for subsidized tutoring. You still need to invest some time in finding the right tutor, tutors, or services for your family.

Jessie Thompson10 months ago

Thank you for explaining this! Private tutors used to be something only rich people could have. Then tutoring became something only “failing” students were supposed to need. Now, on the Internet, I see parents complaining when schools adopt new curriculum standards. While some of these complaints make sense, others sound as if the parents think they should not have to review the material to be the only tutors their children ever need. They don’t take advantage of free tutoring when it’s provided for them.  


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