Not all students find schoolwork easy. Some may have difficulty reading. Others may not do well in exams. This is stressful for everyone—teachers, parents and, of course, the students themselves.
Does any of this sound familiar? Do you, or your child:
- find it hard to understand the lesson content?
- struggle to complete homework?
Is there a way to overcome this and achieve success?
Increasing numbers of learners are seeking subject tuition and assistance with homework tasks. Private tuition has a good success rate for all levels, from primary school through to university.
Private tutors are masters at teaching their students how to revise and how to improve their subject knowledge.
Not all private tuition is necessarily expensive. If you know where to look, you can access inexpensive or free tutoring without skimping on your progress, or that of your child.
Perhaps you're looking for English tuition, maths extension or support to fill the gaps in your physics knowledge. You will find a large number of free tutoring apps, online tutoring options and free school support—you just need to choose the combination that works for you.
Online Tutoring Via Websites
A quick Google search will unveil a number of websites offering all sorts of education support for all ages. They will all claim to improve maths skills, boost English competency or increase your results in science subjects.
Take your time. Have a look at the different website options and choose the one that best meets your needs and style of learning.
The great thing about online tutoring through websites is the freedom—you can access them anywhere at any time. Not having to negotiate times with volunteers or home tutors makes it easier for parents.
Suitable Websites for Primary School
Websites aimed at primary school students usually feature games and engaging tasks designed to assist and improve reading and maths.
Activities are short and often rewards-based to maintain the child's attention and make learning fun.
As a start, have a look at:
- ABC Education (all subjects, all year levels, free)
- Studyladder (all subjects, all year levels, basic membership is free)
- IXL (English and maths, all year levels, not free but cheap at $12.95 per month)
Suitable Websites for Years 7 - 12
Both ABC Education and IXL cater for senior learners with a good selection of English and maths topics up to Year 12 on IXL, and all curriculum areas up to Year 10 on ABC Education. Other sites with cheap or free school support resources include:
- Khan Academy (free, all subjects from physics to life skills, includes primary level lessons)
- Ted Ed (think Ted Talks for students, a full range of subjects, all levels, customisable for parents and students)
Tutoring Platforms and Private Tuition
Educational websites might be engaging but what if you have a question about a concept? And they can't really individualise your lesson to suit your learning style.
At some point, you may need to think about engaging a private tutor.
A private tutor focuses on teaching each student according to their individual academic needs and in the style in which they learn the best. They may work on teaching specific learning strategies or study skills. At the end of each lesson, they will assess your progress, then use this to modify the next lesson accordingly. Whether they are teaching in the online tutoring environment or in person, a private tutor has the advantage of knowing their students on a personal level.
On the Superprof platform, it is easy to find a tutor who specialises in your areas of need—and you'll find most of them work online or in person at your home.
Remember, however, although Superprof tutors offer good rates, they are not volunteers. It is easy to compare their rates on the platform and you will find online tutoring is often cheaper. Most Superprof tutors also provide the first session for free.
Don't be disheartened if you are unable to afford private tuition right now—there are many other options available where learners can access free forums or learning communities to get assistance on specific problems.
Education Associations Offering Free School Support
In Australia, a solid educational support network exists for low-income and disadvantaged families, and self-supporting students, both in schools and via charities and community groups.
For various reasons, some parents are unable to help their children with schoolwork—and this can be frustrating and upsetting as all parents want their child to have every chance of success.
Schools do what they can, and there is an increasing number of volunteer organisations, staffed by retired teachers, preservice teachers and academics, who provide educational assistance in the form of free tutoring to students in need.
School-based Homework Clubs and Public Library Resources
Many schools provide a free lunchtime or after-hours homework club during the school term. This is supervised by a roster of teachers or older students whose role is to help participants with maths, essay writing, research, English comprehension or whatever else is needed.
You might also want to check your local public library. Some libraries will have resource centres with free internet access as well as audiobooks on most topics. Occasionally, they may run study sessions, particularly for overseas students.
Volunteer Tutoring Programs
A number of community and charity organisations throughout Australia offer education support and tuition for students with special needs, refugee and migrant families and those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Some programs receive funding from government grants, but many are run solely by volunteers. They may offer private or small group sessions after school or on weekends, and some may also provide direct assistance in classrooms.
A few of the many programs available include:
- The Smith Family Learning Clubs
- Weave Youth and Community Services
- St Vincent de Paul Society (refugee tutoring)
- Teach Learn Grow (rural and remote students)
The Australian Government also has a Study Assist funding program available for eligible students.
If you start scrolling through the list of educational apps you will never finish—more are added on a daily basis.
The question is, how useful are they?
As with educational websites, you need to do your research to find an app that achieves the outcomes you are after. Of course, fun is a key factor but the whole point is to learn!
A good person to ask about apps is your child's teacher as many teachers integrate apps into their teaching program.
The advantage of apps is they are easy to access and generally affordable. You do, however, need to be mindful of in-app purchases.
A few useful apps to start your search include:
- Reading Eggs (free for Lite Version, $2.99 for premium)
- Quick Maths ($1.99)
- Britannica Kids (less than $8, depending on the platform)
- Flashcards Study (free, create your own flashcards with video, audio, text support)
- TED (free)
- Brainly (ask questions when you're stumped)
When you're looking for specific apps, check to see if they've been designed with teachers (Australian if possible) as well as programmers. This will ensure you end up with a user-friendly app that also covers relevant material.
Also, consider downloading apps your child uses in class. Teachers tend not to use an app if it does nothing to progress the outcomes of their students.
Apps are a great incentive, particularly for the reluctant reviser! While they are certainly convenient to use, they are not, however, a replacement for a real teacher or tutor who understands your specific needs and learning style.
So, if you or your child are really struggling to grasp a maths, physics or English concept, it may be worthwhile to invest in private tuition—even if it's only short term.
Will Self-Monitored Learning be Enough?
If you are looking for fun ways to revise or boost your understanding or grades, there's no doubt education websites and apps are ideal—but what if a student has significant gaps or learning difficulties?
It is possible for a parent to support their child with their learning, but it requires considerable organisation and time to do so.
Not only will you need to find suitable resources, but it is also important to assist your child to develop good study habits and time management skills. Apps and other online tutoring resources can be effective if they are used on a regular basis.
The other essential step is to ensure you track your child's progress. There's no point in setting them up with a few apps and leaving them to it for a couple of hours a day if you can't assess whether they've improved.
This is a lot of work. Do you have the time? Are you up for it?
If you are, that's fantastic.
If not, it might be time to ask yourself if a physical tutor is what you need.
Studying independently not only requires motivation, discipline and good time management, you also need to understand what you are studying and how to improve. Feedback is critical as is being able to locate answers and explanation that you understand.
This is where human intervention comes into play as a way of achieving success.
Websites and apps are not entirely without merit—they are a great way to supplement teaching, motivate further exploration of topics or simply revise concepts and strategies.
In summary, free tutoring resources available online through apps, websites, YouTube, downloadable worksheets and so on are perfect for:
- catch-up work
If, however, a student has trouble learning or is finding it impossible to understand new concepts and apply them, one-on-one tuition is worth pursuing.
Whether you access this support through a volunteer program or elect to use a paid program, such as those offered on Superprof, the relationship developed with the tutor will ensure real progress.