Online Vs. Traditional Tutoring: 6 Things Parents Should Know

February 12, 2019

Part of being a good digital parent is exploring and sharing online learning resources with your child. One learning resource to consider is a tutor. Tutors can improve your child's study habits, build academic confidence, and reduce test anxiety.

Online tutoring is a popular option among both parents and students. But is this style of online mentoring more effective than traditional face-to-face instruction? Here are some pros and cons of each to help you decide which tutoring approach is right for your child.

1. Convenience

Convenience is a big plus for online tutoring. Face-to-face tutoring requires scheduling times, finding locations, and keeping appointments. That means shifting your work schedule, fighting traffic, or hosting a tutor in your home. These all add complexity to your busy work week. But online tutors can work around you and your child’s schedule. Your child can get help from an online tutor anytime or anywhere.

2. Interaction

When it comes to building trust and healthy relationships, it's hard to beat face-to-face tutoring. Many communication cues like body language and voice inflections get lost through a digital screen. These cues ensure better personal connections and tutor-student interactions. Having an instructor who’s physically present promotes trust and authority. However, students already familiar with digital interactions may find online tutoring a natural fit.

Because they save time on travel, online tutors have more of it to spend interacting with your child. In-person tutoring services often need to teach several students at once to maximize profits, so there’s less one-on-one attention.

3. Curriculum

Online tutors tend to have a more flexible curriculum, and their sessions focus on helping one client at a time. But traditional tutoring is more structured, much like public and private school classrooms. For some students, however, a more rigid course plan can be beneficial for building discipline and confidence. For others, it may stifle creativity.

Since traditional tutoring curriculum is more formalized, there’s less opportunity for students to move at their own pace. Online tutors are more flexible, letting your child slow down or move ahead as they need to.

4. Cost

Online tutoring is more cost effective for both the tutors and the parents. Traditional tutors have to charge for instruction, travel time, and physical materials like books. Online tutors don’t have to travel and use digital textbooks and materials, so they pass these savings on to you with more competitive rates compared to in-person tutors.

Parents also save on fuel costs, travel time, and missed work. But you will need to invest in technology. To get online, your child will need access to a desktop or laptop computer along with internet.

5. Distractions

The internet is a connected world filled with infinite learning resources, but it’s also a big digital distractor. With digital tutors, students are already online, and the lure of YouTube videos and social media may be too tempting for many students to pass up. The result: a waste of their time and your money. With a traditional tutor monitoring their actions, students are less likely to fall into the trap of web surfing. Traditional tutors draw a stronger line between work and play when it comes to the internet.

6. Tech Skills

Online tutoring offers the training and environment your child will need for their career and to be a good digital citizen. They will have to expand their skills and knowledge through online learning resources. Today's employees communicate using video conferencing and online collaboration tools. Online tutoring offers the experience and training for this type of corporate environment at an earlier age.

Whether you decide on traditional or online tutoring, remember that tutors come in varying degrees of skill and experience. A bad tutor can impact your child’s academic success as much as a good one. Therefore, be thorough when examining potential tutors and their lesson plans. And track your child’s tutoring sessions. If you’re not tech-savvy enough to check their progress with an online tutor, a traditional one may be a better answer. These pros and cons won’t matter much if the tutor is doing a bad job.

Written by

Brandon Jarman

Brandon is a digital journalist who is passionate about all things education and technology. When he's not writing, he enjoys reading a good book and spending time with his newborn son. You can follow him on Twitter @brandonjarman4 to keep up with his latest work.