Case Study: Does Online Tuition Make a Difference?

Online Tuition
Online Tuition

I’m not a particularly pushy parent. I haven’t gone out of my way to get my children to overachieve. If they have an interest or passion for something I’m right there to help, but I’ve tried to avoid assuming they want the same things out of life that I do.

This means that I’ve not (previously) gone down the route of extra tutoring for them. The school system was plenty good enough for me. However, a recent set of trial lessons with Maths Doctor made me re-evaluate some of these assumptions.

I had assumed that extra tuition was there to simply up the number of contact hours between student and teacher to move them along a bit quicker. However, one of the best aspects of our family extra curricular experience has been that it offers different rather than more teaching.

Because they take the time to understand the needs of each student you can focus the content and the teacher to fit your child. For me this meant I wanted my daughter to have input from a newly graduated tutor who could inspire her about math rather than offer more of the same.

Equally I wanted the content of the lessons to cover different topics. We selected some areas that weren’t covered at school and some new perspectives to topics that were. Then this was delivered online via the Maths Doctor service.

If you’ve not come across this already, once you have booked your lesson you are sent an electronic pen and pad to grant access to a shared online white board. Then, using either Skype or the in-built conferencing tool, the student and teacher communicate with video, voice and the shared drawing space.

Here the novelty helps a little to win some interest from potentially suspicious youngsters who may not be keen on more schooling in the evenings. Soon though, the one to one nature of the lesson and the tailoring of the content does away with these concerns.

By the end of our four trial lessons I found that my daughter was keen to talk about math and engage in the subject more. She had found a degree of inspiration from her online tutor who (while still retaining a professional distance) was also more like an older sibling or friend in her teaching style.

Now, of course there is a cost to this, and I think families need to weigh the benefits against these. Certainly, if you had an aunt or uncle on hand who could teach maths this would offer a similar experience. A little like swimming lessons though, while I could teach my children to swim, having a professional do this not only improves their technique but also has other beneficial side effects — widening the net of their experience and relationships for instance.

I’m not sure how soon we’ll book in more sessions, I guess the ability to dip in and out as needed is part of the benefit, but I’m very glad we gave the Maths Doctor system a go and would heartily recommend it — although this is UK based, there are plenty of similar services in other territories.

Andy Robertson has three children (6, 8 and 10) and enjoys racing R/C cars, playing board games and video games with his family. He has been writing about technology and the family for six years. Recently he has covered the Skylanders games in depth. He speaks and writes as a Family Video-game Expert for the BBC and runs the Family Gamer TV show.