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Pandemic uncertainty leads to surge in online tutoring

Last Updated Aug 19, 2020 at 7:03 pm EDT

MONTREAL (CITYNEWS) – With students in Quebec preparing to return to school for the first time since March, several parents are turning to online tutoring to help bridge the learning gap.

That’s resulted in a surge in business for online tutors this summer – and that trend may be sticking around for many months to come.

“It takes a class on average until mid-October to get caught up where they left off in June,” said Sunny Verma, the founder of TutorBright. “Now we’re talking about a six-month hiatus of real strong academic support from the school system. Parents are extremely concerned about the skill gaps that have developed from March to June.”

According to a recent survey, about two thirds of Quebecers are concerned about students’ grades amid the pandemic. The provincial government has pledged $20 million to help students catch up in the fall.

Quebec’s education minister says students could go back to online learning if outbreaks occur, leaving many parents even more adamant about keeping up with extra help.

“Parents are thinking not just for the next couple months or the next semester, they are thinking for the next 12 to 24 months,” said Verma. “So without question, parents are looking at tutoring to not just to be a supplemental support, but in some degree a primary support for their children.”

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Stephanie Koury is one of many parents who turned to private online tutoring to keep her two kids stimulated during the unplanned break.

“When school finished, I wanted to continue because it’s not like he (her son) was up to date,” said Koury. “He had two Zooms for half an hour a week and I was doing what I can with him, but it’s not the same as going to school all day. So I found – to keep up and to maybe be a bit ahead – any tutoring, any homework help.

“In the summer, I found it really useful to keep their brains going, with the French especially. Having that every day, I found was great.”

Stephanie Koury’s son works on homework provided by the private tutoring company they hired during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a recent survey, about two thirds of Quebecers are concerned about students’ grades amid the pandemic. (Photo provided by Stephanie Koury)

And while private online tutoring may offer the most personalized learning experience, Verma also recommends free online resources that are helpful as well.

“Some of the best educators out there exist on YouTube,” he said. “You can easily type in the specific subject and grade of your child, and there’s going to be a well-animated or a character that comes alive across the screen and be able to teach your child that specific subject.”