Make Money While Social Distancing by Tutoring Kids

A boy learns online.
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Schools in 17 states and two U.S. territories have closed to slow the spread of COVID-19. That leaves at least 55.1 million students in the country without a classroom, according to Education Week.

Here’s all of our coverage of the coronavirus outbreak, which we will be updating every day.

Many school districts, which faced last-minute school closures, sent kids home with minimal direction to occupy what is likely to be the remainder of the school year at home. Parents with no homeschooling experience are turning to online learning platforms to fill the gap. Then, of course, the long summer months will need to be filled with … something.

All this could mean an opportunity for you to make money from home while social distancing.

Here are some learning platforms for all kinds of subjects that are seeking teachers for online teaching and tutoring during the coronavirus crisis and beyond.

3 Sites to Become a Tutor

These online education platforms are actively seeking tutors and teachers to meet increased distance-learning needs because of coronavirus-related school closures.

1. Outschool

Outschool is a learning platform that lets you host live online classes in any subject for kids ages 3 to 18.

“As the reality of ‘sheltering in place’ spreads across the country and the majority of schools across the nations close, parents are cooped up at home with kids with little to do,” a rep for the company told The Penny Hoarder. “Unemployment is beginning to skyrocket, while Outschool is desperate to hire more teachers for its online classes ASAP.”

You’ll create a listing for your class and set the price. Learners on the platform can sign up and attend classes through live video and messaging, and Outschool keeps a 30% fee from enrollments.

The company told The Penny Hoarder that teachers can earn between $40 and $100 per hour.

You don’t have to have formal teaching credentials. You just have to pass a background check and must be a citizen or resident of the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand or the United Kingdom.

The company said homeschooling classes are filling up fast, and they’re seeking teachers and tutors, experts and personal trainers to teach subjects such as art, yoga, baking, math, science, English, Spanish and social studies.

Thanks to a slew of donations, Outschool is offering up to $200 in free classes per family for public school students affected by school closures.

It’s looking for 5,000 teachers to start teaching ASAP, according to a blog post from March 15.

2. TakeLessons

TakeLessons lets you create a free profile to teach skills like music, art, language, acting or dance. Students can find you and book live online (or local) lessons through the platform. You can set your rates, and the platform handles booking and payment for you.

Popular subjects for online classes include singing, various musical instruments, language lessons, acting, dance and drawing.

Susanna Sonnenberg, a violist for the Pittsburgh Civic Orchestra, has been teaching violin, viola and cello for 25 years. She’s been offering online classes through TakeLessons since October 2015 and went full time after accumulating 50 students in her first six months.

Now she averages about $8,000 per month in income from music lessons and recommends TakeLessons over several other platforms she’s tried.

“I like being able to have students all over the United States and internationally,” Sonnenberg says. “I have a wide age range of students and playing experience, so I have a lot of variety in my teaching.”

3. Varsity Tutors

Varsity Tutors facilitates online learning through live online classes, practice tests and study resources.

To become a tutor, apply through an online application, go through a phone or video interview and conduct mock tutoring sessions. Varsity Tutors helps you connect with clients and teach classes live online or locally.

The company doesn’t list tutor requirements publicly, but it does let learners know it looks for these qualities in tutors:

  • Exceptional teaching and communication skills and friendly demeanor.
  • Prior teaching or mentoring experience.
  • Expert-level knowledge of the subject you’ll teach.
  • Ability to develop individualized curriculum.
  • History of academic excellence.

“The platform is experiencing unprecedented demand, as students — especially kindergarten through fifth grade, who have historically been less receptive toward online learning — work to stay on track during closures,” Brian Galvin, Chief Academic Officer for Varsity Tutors, said in a statement.

In the wake of school closures due to COVID-19, Varsity Tutors is also offering free Virtual School Day classes for K-12 students in a variety of subjects.

3 Places to Teach English Online

This could be a good time to take on work teaching English to non-native speakers around the world. Companies facilitate online learning, and some sites let you teach classes with no prior teaching experience or credentials.

1. VIPKid

As of August 2021, the Chinese government no longer allows foreign tutors to teach Chinese children online. Read more details about how this has affected VIPKid.

One of the most well-known companies for teaching English online, VIPKid lets you teach one-on-one or group lessons to Chinese grade-schoolers.

You’ll set up blocks of time you want to teach and design your own lessons, and students can join the timeframe and teacher they prefer throughout the day. You can earn between $14 and $22 per hour, based on how often you teach.

You don’t need to know Mandarin to teach these students, but VIPKid requires:

  • A bachelor’s degree.
  • At least one year of teaching experience.
  • High-speed internet.
  • The ability to pass a background check.
Jennifer Ross earned $520 per week while teaching online for VIPKid. Carmen Mandato/ The Penny Hoarder

Jennifer Ross, a VIPKid teacher The Penny Hoarder spoke with in 2018, was writing and working toward a master’s degree while earning more than $520 per week on the platform.

“There’s nothing like being able to pass the joy I have for reading, writing, and learning or playing guitar on to a kid,” the former public school teacher said.

To become a teacher, you’ll fill out an online application, have an interview and conduct mock teaching sessions.

2. Cambly

Cambly is one of the most flexible platforms for online English classes. It doesn’t require a degree or prior experience, and you don’t have to go through an onboarding process.

You’ll just create a tutor profile, where students — adults and children — can find you and book lessons. Pay is 17 cents per minute, and you can teach sessions of any length as much or little as you like. An hour-long session would land you $10.20 per hour.

To qualify to teach through Cambly, you just need a native level of English fluency, a computer with a webcam and high-speed internet.

3. Boxfish

More than 5 million Chinese students use Boxfish to learn English. Boxfish provides course materials and lets you teach scheduled or on-demand classes with one to four students.

Pay on the platform is $10 per 25-minute session — so up to $20 per hour. You can teach through a computer, laptop or smartphone as long as you have a high-speed internet connection.

To qualify as a Boxfish teacher, you must have grown up in an English-speaking country — preferably the U.S., Australia, the U.K. or Canada — and have a bachelor’s degree. An English teaching certificate isn’t required, but it’s a bonus.

Dana Sitar (@danasitar) has been writing and editing since 2011, covering personal finance, careers and digital media.