4 Solutions for Affordable Academic Help During the Upcoming School Year

A mother homeschools her two daughters.
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For families across the United States, this coming school year is going to look a lot different than years past.

Your school may be temporarily converting to online learning or giving parents a virtual education option. You may decide to disenroll from your school district to homeschool.

If your children go to class in a traditional school building, you may be concerned that mask wearing, social distancing measures and anxieties will have a negative effect on their schooling.

It’s a tough situation all around.

If you think your kids are going to need some extra educational help to stay on track this school year, try not to stress. Here are four affordable options for homeschool help or to supplement your child’s studies.

1. Find an Older Student to Tutor

If a professional tutor is too pricy, consider hiring an older student who knows the material and could provide the extra educational assistance for less.

A student tutor may be able to relate to your child better. An older kid might even have insider knowledge of a particular teacher’s expectations when it comes to turning in an essay or independent project.

A student tutor is also likely to charge less than, say, someone with a bachelor’s degree who is tutoring to pay the bills. The younger the student, the better deal you’ll probably get. For instance, if your fifth grader needs extra help, you’ll likely pay less if you find a tutor who’s in middle school compared to one who’s in high school or college.

Ask around among your circle of friends or coworkers for recommendations for student tutors, or try posting for tutoring help in a local parenting Facebook group. Contact your child’s school to see if they have any peer tutoring programs established.

2. Create an Informal Homeschool Co-op

Homeschooling and distance learning isn’t always feasible for families due to work schedules. But you could make it work by banding together with other families for some homeschool help.

Your child might have a friend or classmate who has a parent who’s available during traditional school hours and willing to serve as a homeschool teacher to your kid too. You could work out a barter arrangement where you trade homeschooling time for another service, like child care during the evenings and weekends. Or you could offer to pay the parent doing the homeschooling, but perhaps they’ll charge less if you provide school supplies, lunches and snacks for their kid too.

If there aren’t any parents in your social circle to take on this task, you could join up with a few families and split the costs of a professional tutor or a child care provider who could monitor the kids as they do online learning. Costs could run high, but splitting the expense will help you save money.

3. Seek Out Free Online Resources

Whether your kid is getting assignments from a teacher or you’re coming up with your own homeschool curriculum, it can be helpful to supplement the lesson plan. Here are some free online educational resources:

Check with youth development nonprofits in your area to see if they offer free or low-cost tutoring or other educational help. When schools closed last spring, some YMCA branches offered virtual tutoring. The Boys and Girls Clubs of America opened up access to its MyFuture platform for digital learning.

4. Tap Into Your Child’s Learning Style

Leaning into how your kid learns best can help if they’re struggling with school material.

Three main learning styles are: visual, auditory and kinesthetic.

Your child may be a visual learner if he grasps material better when new things are shown to him. Use charts, diagrams, flash cards and books with illustrations as study aides.

Your kid may be an auditory learner if hearing lessons aloud is most helpful. Try audiobooks and educational podcasts, record study notes to listen to later or make up rhymes or songs to retain information.

Your child may be a kinesthetic learner if engaging in hands-on activities is the best way she learns. Find special projects to do that’s related to the course material and look for ways to turn learning into an interactive game.

Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.