It's no surprise that homework stresses students, but it's often overlooked that parents often bear the brunt as well, what with ensuring it's finished in a timely manner, and clarifying missed concepts.

This becomes compounded if the child is having great difficulty at school.

If you're strapped for cash but want your child to get ahead, free online tutoring or apps hold great appeal.

These let users have fun while learning through games, quizzes, animations, and graphics which hold their attention and can raise a child's interest in the subjects: maths, English, science, or languages. The catch is that these require the students to be motivated from the beginning, inducing them to take time out of their schedule to engage with the app.

Consider then:

  • Will these apps provide sufficient support in improving the child's literacy and numeracy skills by themselves, or are they part of a bigger puzzle in a holistic tutoring approach?
  • Are online tutoring and apps really able to replace in-person private tutoring?
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Managing Your Learning with Free Tutoring Websites and Apps

Is your child having difficulty at school and you're seeking help for them?

Turning to free online tutoring services might be your first port of call, as these can be accessed online or on smartphone apps. They typically cater to students ranging from primary school to VCE/HSC, and are highly useful due to their flexibility and accessibility. There are even some which offer collaborative learning communities through live chat with educators and forums, as in common in many language learning apps.

On that note, even students who are not struggling could find HSC/VCE difficult, so may very well benefit from a little extra support.

Whilst full of information, the downfall of books is that they're not interactive, so smartphone apps present the perfect solution for this.

The key is finding the right app, something which suits both the student's level and expectations for learning outcomes in succeeding and progressing.

This process can be overwhelming due to the large choice of apps and websites out there.

Checking the reviews and testimonials on apps, sites, and even parenting forums can be useful in narrowing the selection, and there are apps which provide a trial period in which the student can try a few games and get a progress review before having to pay to access the full app.

This is a nifty way of trying the online tutoring before you buy.

However, to see effective results through this kind of academic supplement, the resources need to be accessed regularly, as commitment is a core component of educational success.

Parents need to also guide their child in their extra-curricular learning and keep tabs on their progress otherwise the software or site won't be worth it.

Children should not be left alone with education apps.
Whilst learning apps and games are fun, parents need to regularly check progress to ensure they're effective. Photo credit: US Department of Education on Visual hunt

If you're a more mature student that doesn't require constant parental supervision (though some occasional encouragement never goes astray), you'll have to find way to motivate and discipline yourself:

  • Whilst part of the enjoyment comes from playing games online, you also need to use them to help identify your weaknesses in order to progress. Once you've worked this out, you can adapt your app usage to address these rather than rehashing skills on a game you already know well.
  • Academic private lessons are not designed to be a catch-all, rather servicing only one subject the student is struggling in. For instance, you wouldn't sign up for a chemistry tutor if you're having trouble with German. Even more specifically, you may need a maths tutor to help with fractions, but already know how to ace algebra on your own.

Many apps and websites focus on specific subjects so you need to touch base and check what your individual problems are in order to address them with an individualised solution. Refining your study needs entails picking the issue apart to know whether your problem with Chinese is not being able to memorise the thousands of characters or whether it's grammar in a foreign language that you're not getting, that the textbook just doesn't cover clearly enough. This could also involve preparing for class with apps and taking practice exams online.

Making time during your day or work to set aside an hour or two to utilise the app will help you get over your academic troubles more quickly, not the mention the apps won't work if you don't use them regularly.

Go deeper into this topic: are learning apps really able to help students progress?

Some Free Online Websites and Apps for Tutoring

Educational websites

There are some websites with large resource databases, including video or written information packs, as well as quizzes revision flashcards.

The choice can be a little overwhelming though.

Cool Australia gives a massively diverse range of current affairs topics covered across the P-12 syllabus from a wide range of subjects, from climate change to outdoor learning.

At primary school level, there's more general yet still fun quizzes and info about the world and learning on Oxford Owl and National Geographic Kids which also deliver a wide range of resources to keep learning fun and engaging.

Students in later schooling years, particularly HSC and VCE, should search for exam revision resources on sites that specifically help you meet the requirements of the upcoming exam. Edrolo provides a free trial of VCE and HSC curriculum revision across 9 core subjects.

There are also online learning softwares that are given by educators at university level, including Skillshare, FutureLearn, or OpenLearn, and are often free to enrol in. This is however contingent upon trial periods or particular classes, as most courses that provide a qualification at the end won't be free.

The Australian curriculum itself also offers breakdowns and resources for students in years F-10 to give holistic, fundamental understanding of core syllabus subjects. Public and school libraries will also have paper, audio, and  e-reference books for learners to access.

Friends can help motivate.
Revision apps and websites: why not revise with a friend? Photo credit: Anders Printz on Visualhunt

Other Possibilities

There's more than just apps and websites out there as free tutoring resources. Loads of video blogs and YouTube channels are dedicated to explaining tricky concepts from trigonometry to French, often delivered by a certified teacher or peer tutor who will give you tips for tests and problem solving, regardless of your schooling level. That means that these videos can address general reading and writing, as well as more advanced concepts encountered in VCE and HSC.

You're also in luck if you require free tutoring, as virtually anyone with a computer or similar device can access free academic support.

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 Apps for Daily Time Management

Do your eyes go square after more than 45 minutes at your computer? Are you more of a kinaesthetic learner who needs to get up and move and learn in your own way?

You might find you learn better independently and in your own time, so these apps will be great motivators as you can use them anywhere with your smartphone:

  • Revision (the app) lets you review subjects from across the curriculum, and revise with tailored flash cards.
  • Other apps like YUP give children 24/7 access to tutors online (for a fee) who can check their work and ensure better results through direct assistance on assignments.
  • There are also plenty of apps out there that focus more on specific subject matter and study areas, as well as study skills and general literacy and numeracy.

Is Free Tutoring the Best Option for a Failing Student?

Students each obviously have their own individual needs, so taking a blanket approach to education is not always the best option.

If students have continual difficulty, re-motivating them to learn may take more than a few tutoring sessions. Finding that spark for learning will occur when issues are approached in an interesting and novel way.

Apps stand out in this regard, as learning applications take an approach of presenting education and revision through games and activities, whereby users can track their own progress and gain points, rather than just completing homework tasks to appease their parents. It might not involve writing a paper or completing tens of maths exercises, but will help learners find their motivation through playing rather than just studying.

Apps are often designed by or in conjunction with school teachers whose insight and cooperation consolidates the educational element of the game, and is enhanced by the game designer's understanding of enjoyment.

Apps are also at the forefront of modern learning, and are therefore appealing to the youth of today.

They're easy to find and download, and don't require setup or pack-up as a regular classroom or tutoring session does.

Tracking your children's progress is also significantly easier with apps, as many of them give access to educators or parents to keep tabs on how well your child or pupil is doing. This has the double benefit of tracing the child's progress and assessing the efficacy of the app.

Downloadable apps are thus indisputably useful, which is further sweetened by the fact that they're often free or cost no more than a few dollars. This means that you can trial several and see which suit the learning process most ideally, tailoring an individualised learning solution for yourself.

Nevertheless, an app will never replace a teacher, and despite their fun and engaging layout, will never bring the human element a teacher does, nor the same pedagogical insights. Rather, apps complement lessons, and let students embellish or revise what they really need.

There's actually a surprising amount of free tutoring resources out there.

Tutors can tailor their teaching to each student.
Websites and Apps are Great Enhancements for Learning, but Can't Replace the Individual Attention of a Teacher or One-on-one Tutor. Photo credit: US Department of Education on Visual hunt

The Indisputable Advantages of a Private Online Tutor

Though the idea of using apps for free tutoring holds large appeal, students who really struggle will need a teacher's guidance in order to progress. Students in this predicament often feel lost and have difficulty grasping topics, so a they need a private tutor to explain concepts in a different way to the classroom.

The human element of a real life tutor is that they impart learning skills and styles, as well as studying tips, which can help the student develop their own learning rhythm. This will help them become a strong independent learner and make the most of apps in their own time.

What then are the main advantages of a private tutor for a student?

The main difference from apps is that a private tutor requires you to really be present and focussed, which in turns allows the tutor to work with the student in whatever frame of mind they're in, and adapt lessons accordingly. Whilst a school counsellor may be able to help with students' mind frame and provide relevant study skills, they often have hundreds of students to attend to and cannot give the full attention students may need.

Therefore, there are truly great upsides to a private tutor.

The tutor can personalise lessons to better meet student needs, in turn creating better motivation by addressing issue head on.

Learning alone is not easy.
Studying By Yourself Can Be a Challenge, So a Tutor's Personalised Support Can Be Indispensable. Photo credit: Street Photography candid on VisualHunt

Who hasn't had a teacher whose passion for the subject made them in love with it?

Finding the right match between students and teachers is necessary to create ideal learning conditions and keeping students motivated. This is a concrete argument therefore for preferring an in person teacher or tutor to online learning apps alone.

The internet makes this search significantly easier. Superprof vets tutors and presents their profiles and qualifications in full, so you're able to explore their areas of expertise and passions, which is both reassuring for students and parents in the search for student-teacher chemistry.

Whilst they're the perfect complement to learning, having teachers actually present in the learning process of Chinese, Geography, or Physics will always helps students achieve their goals.

Have a look into the plethora of online free tutoring resources available to you!

Need teacher?

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