Homework is often stressful, and not just for the students. Many parents are stressed, too, in having to make sure their children get it done, check their answers and help them with anything they didn’t understand.
But how much more stressful is it when your child is struggling?
Free online tutoring or tutoring apps for your smartphone can seem very appealing to anyone in a low-income household.
They allow users to learn while often introducing an element of fun thanks to quizzes and games with animations and fun graphics. They’re a good way to spike a child’s interest in physics, geography, maths, science and engineering. However, using them requires a certain base motivation and the willingness to make time and include them in your scheduling.
Your child is having trouble at school and you would like to find help for them?
A first choice might be to turn to free tutoring services. Online or via smartphone apps, there are a number of solutions to help your child progress, from primary school to A-levels. They are ideal in terms of accessibility and flexibility; some even provide a learning community with forums and the opportunity to chat live with an educator to help students connect (many language-learning apps do this).
In that vein, passing your GSCE or A-levels is no walk in the park, and even students who are not failing might appreciate a bit of supplemental instruction.
Books alone often fail to keep a students’ interest as they crave interactivity. In view of this, smartphone apps seem like the ideal solution.
However, you need to find the right app: something suitable both for their level and for their expectations to help them succeed and make progress.
There are a number of sites and apps out there.
To make the right choice, don’t hesitate to look at the testimonials in parenting forums and app-review sites and blogs. Additionally, some apps offer a trial period, letting the student try out a few games and progress for a few levels before you have to pay to continue.
This trick lets you try out online tutoring free before committing yourself.
But for this type of academic support to work, the online classroom of your choice needs to be used with a certain regularity. Staying power is important for any kind of learning.
As a parent, your job will be to accompany your child and support them outside the classroom – otherwise, the site or app will hardly be useful.
Learning apps are a fun way to improve your grades, but parents or tutors should keep an eye and track your progress. Photo credit: US Department of Education on Visual hunt
However, if you are old enough not to have your parents looking over your shoulder (though support is always a good thing), you will have to find your own motivation and discipline:
A lot of sites and apps focus on a single subject. So you need to be honest with yourself about where your problems lie to find the right, individualized solution on your road to academic success. Honing your study skills means knowing if your problem with economics comes because you need help with the mathematics or if your certified teacher’s lecture somehow fails to convey how the basic theory works and your textbook is of no help at all. It also means preparing your classes with apps and taking your exams online to try and improve your score.
Set aside a certain time during the day or week – make an appointment on your smartphone calendar, if you like – for using your app. Make it part of your routine. Apps won’t help you progress if you don’t use them!
Some sites are quite extensive, offering not only information packets in written or video form but also quizzes and flashcards for revision.
But there is a lot of choice in learning websites.
BBC Bitesize offers summaries and quizzes for every subject at every level of every conceivable British curriculum, from geometry to algebra to the Humanities.
At higher levels, look for exam revision websites to help consolidate what you need for your finals, GSCE or A-Levels. Apart from BBC Bitesize mentioned above, there are numerous such sites such as s-cool or school exams.
You can also consider online learning programs such as Skillshare, FutureLearn or OpenLearn, where the courses -often at a college tutoring level – are usually free upon enrollment. This is linked to either a trial period or certain classes. Generally, any course ending in qualifications (diplomas at various levels) are paying.
Additionally, Parliament offers online resources for teachers that are equally useful for students trying to deepen their understanding of a subject. Many libraries also offer some form of online resource for schoolchildren, including audiobooks or ebooks available to download.
Revision apps and websites: why not revise with a friend? Photo credit: Anders Printz on Visualhunt
But websites are not the only free tutoring resource. There are a number of YouTube channels and video blogs dedicated to homework help for calculus 1 or chemistry. There, a peer tutor or certified teacher will provide instruction videos on specific subjects, from psychology to trigonometry with tips for test taking and problem-solving, to reading and writing courses at kindergarten level or higher with interesting visuals.
Today, it is possible to receive homework help for free if you have access to a computer.
Are you not the kind to stay too long staring at a computer screen? Do you prefer to be out and about and focus on independent learning?
There are apps for you! Once downloaded onto your smartphone, you can use them anywhere. A good motivation to play and learn.
“No child left behind.” While the sentiment behind this slogan (reminiscent of the US-Marines) is admirable, it’s not quite as easy as it looks.
When a student has difficulties, it is often difficult to re-motivate them toward learning with some simple tutoring sessions. They will need things explained to them in a novel and interesting way – and that doesn’t just mean interactive whiteboards.
This is where apps have an advantage. Learning applications often present learning and revision in the form of games, something they will enjoy playing in order to advance and earn more points rather than just something they do to appease their parents. They don’t have to write an essay or turn in homework but feel like they’re playing rather than studying.
Designers working on the apps often work together with schoolteachers. They will try and find the middle ground between the game elements and education. A true enrichment of app games, of which your child enjoys the fruits.
Apps are a good way to connect to today’s youth.
They are also easy to find and get. No need to clean up before opening a tutoring session. No need for an extra lamp or some cookies left out. It is enough to own a smartphone.
If you want to track your child’s progress, most learning apps offer some sort of tracker for parents or educators to document how well they are doing. This lets you see the student’s progress and see whether the app is working.
Therefore, downloadable apps are definitely useful. The fact that they are free or generally cost very little (a few pounds only) makes it possible to download several apps and try them out to see which ones the student truly reinforce the child’s developmental progress.
However, at school, there are also the teachers. Even if quiz games and learning apps are an asset in helping children learn, they will never replace a teacher’s knowledge and pedagogical theory. The apps complement lessons and one-on-one tutoring rather than replacing them.
Websites and apps are wonderful tools, but they can’t replace one-on-one attention from a private tutor. Photo credit: US Department of Education on Visual hunt
Even if the idea of benefiting from free tutoring is very attractive, students in difficulty will need a teacher to guide them and help them progress. These students often feel lost, have trouble understanding – they need things explained differently from the classroom so they have a chance to grasp the concepts.
What’s more, using a live tutor will help your child get into a certain learning rhythm and give them study tips. Achieving a study rhythm encourages the learning process. Something he or she will have to do on their own with apps.
But what are the advantages of a private tutor for your student?
Unlike apps, taking lessons with a private tutor means you are both physically present. This allows the tutor to assess his students’ mental state. He or she can see from their expressions whether or not they understood and adapt their lessons accordingly. A school counsellor only sees the children at fairly large intervals and teachers in classrooms are face to face with dozens of students and may fail to notice the one most in need of their attention.
The advantages of a private tutor are numerous.
The private tutor can personalise his lessons depending on his students and guide them toward the exercises that work best for them. Special attention in the right place can change everything.
Learning alone can be difficult: staying focused and motivated is easier with a tutor. Photo credit: Street Photography candid on VisualHunt
Who hasn’t fallen in love with a subject because of the person teaching it?
A good chemistry between student and teacher is important for good learning conditions and motivating students. A good reason for preferring a teacher (for example, from a tutoring center near you or a referral from happy parents) to apps.
With the Internet, it’s quite easy to find the right person. On Superprof, the profiles of each tutor is presented in full, so you can see where their areas of expertise lie but also what their passions RE. A way to reassure parents and students.
Though apps can be useful for helping students succeed, the presence of an actual teacher for private lessons in French, History or Geography will always be the best way to improve grades.