Ripe Side Gig Opportunity: Help Students with Online Learning

An older woman tutors a girl at her home.
Getty Images

As the new school year fast approaches, working parents are torn. They can’t sustainably act as both teacher and employee. At the same time, many are hesitant to send their kids back to school for in-person classes this fall.

The predicament is spurring many parents to seek out at-home arrangements, and their hunt is fueling demand for a host of teaching-related job opportunities. In some regards, it’s creating an entirely new system from scratch.

“I’m dreading not sending my daughter back to school,” said Julie Richey, a working parent in St. Petersburg, Florida. “But I don’t think it’s responsible to send her back.”

Like hordes of moms and dads across the country, Richey and a group of other local parents have banded together in recent weeks to find and vet candidates to help their kids complete their schoolwork at home. They’re open to hiring preschool teachers, tutors, undergraduate students, temporarily out-of-work parents — basically anyone who can keep their kids on-task while the parents are working.

In Richey’s boat? Here are four ways to find inexpensive home-school help.

“We just want someone to keep our kids alive. That’s all we’re asking for,” she said.

Parents Are Hiring Nationwide

Groups like Richey’s are popping up all over the nation.

Take Pandemic Pods for example. The San Francisco-based Facebook group was created July 7. In less than one month, the main group garnered more than 31,000 members — most of them parents looking for alternatives to in-person schooling. Countless hyper-local spin off groups have emerged since then as hubs for like-minded parents who want to set up their own “pandemic pods.”

What are pandemic pods, exactly?

“We use this term to describe any group of children, and their families, that get together regularly and in-person with measures in place to manage COVID-19 exposure risks,” wrote the group’s founder, Lian Chang, in a statement to the media. “This includes many informal arrangements, such as two families whose adults trade off on supervision duties so that the children can safely play and participate in their school’s remote learning offerings.”

Richey’s group came up with their idea independently, based on a nanny-share she and another parent participated in when their kids were born.

But the concepts are the same: A small group of students comes together to complete their remote-schooling assignments while being able to socialize safely with their peers. All led by a designated person (maybe you?) who is more of a proctor or facilitator than a teacher.

The parents pool their resources for school supplies and to pay the proctor.

Where to Find Opportunities

If you’re a tutor, teacher, caregiver or maybe someone who’s really good with kids and technology, there are several ways you can ease the burden for working parents while making money yourself.

We just want someone to keep our kids alive. That’s all we’re asking for.

Tutoring Companies

Some parents want only to supplement their kids’ online learning. That’s where the more traditional form of tutoring can come into play during this unusual school year.

In general, the private tutoring industry is booming. Online tutoring companies, in particular, have seen enormous surges since the pandemic started. For example, TutorMe, a major online tutoring provider, reported a 300% increase in users since March and is continually recruiting tutors to meet demand.

Here’s how to get started as an online tutor at several major online companies, including TutorMe.

Big tutoring brands like Sylvan Learning and Huntington Learning Center are also responding to the shifting landscape by offering both in-person and online tutoring opportunities through a network of local branches.

The advantage with these types of tutoring jobs is that the process of finding students is straightforward and centralized through a website or a local center.

Local Parents

The process for finding local parents like Richey, who are just as eagerly searching for you, is anything but centralized. But the gigs can be quite lucrative if you’re willing to do some digging.

Both parents and tutors are having success connecting with each other on social media. Pandemic pod spin-off groups on Facebook are proving to be a solid way to find local parents who are searching for help. The neighborhood-based social media site NextDoor is another good place to contact local parents and advertise your services. Richey said she found a quality candidate on the site.

Coral Nuschke, a recent college graduate based in the Philadelphia area, recently pivoted to tutoring when exams for her teaching certification were canceled due to the coronavirus. She turned to Facebook to offer her tutoring services in a local group.

Droves of parents reached out. Within 24 hours, she was scheduling tutoring sessions that are slated to earn her about $800 a week.

“It’s crazy. It’s nothing I ever expected,” she told WHYY, Philadelphia public media. “But I think it’s a great opportunity for me at this point.”

Adam Hardy is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. He covers the gig economy, entrepreneurship and unique ways to make money. Read his ​latest articles here, or say hi on Twitter @hardyjournalism.