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In-Person or Online Math Tutoring: Which is Truly Better?

On Left: Student does virtual learning On Right: Teacher facilitates in-person learning
With the start of the new year, private math tutors are being booked-up at lightning speed by parents across NYC. But should your child’s private math tutor be meeting with them in-person or online? Before you make up your mind, check out the (surprising) pros and cons of each

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So, you’ve arrived at the conclusion it’s time to enroll your child in the best math tutoring in Queens. You’ll have lots of decisions to make, like how often you can commit to tutoring sessions, how much you’re willing to spend, and in today’s age, whether you’ll choose in-person or online math tutoring. I can’t advise you on how much time or money, but I can offer my expertise on the best math tutoring set-ups.

Online Math Tutoring 

Greater use of graphing tools and visualizations.

Math graphing softwares and applets are being used more and more in classrooms. Between sites like Desmos and GeoGebra, math instructors now have the ability to render beautiful, illuminating visualizations of anything from figures to functions on the fly. Anecdotally, I’ve had tremendous luck making light-bulbs go-off in student’s brains using these awesome, free online tools.
Difficulty observing students’ computations/calculations.  

Most students bring little more than a notebook and pen to class, which is awesome for them to do their math scratchwork on, but hard for their online tutors to read. If math tutors can’t easily read student’s scratchwork and solutions, it’s harder for them to target errors and obstacles students are encountering. Though there are an abundance of writing tablets and online tools for students to do their scratchwork digitally, the cost and inconvenience is too much to expect from every student.
Greater attention to student’s verbal articulations of math.

During online private math tutoring sessions, students and instructors spend more time speaking ideas aloud than they would during an in-person math tutoring session. This forces students to be more descriptive and exacting in their explanations of math concepts or their problem-solving process. As a result, students learn how to speak the language of math, and can integrate ideas more clearly using their words.
Challenges cataloging in-class work/note taking. 

 In a perfect world, where every student is equipped with state-of-the-art drawing tablets, we would encounter the problem of students needing to record their notes digitally. Anecdotally, students are more likely to look back at their in-class math notes if they’re in a physical marble notebook, or something of the sort.
Greater emphasis on reasoning skills and processes than computations/results.

This is sort of a consequence of more time spent talking math aloud. As opposed to a math tutor correcting arithmetic errors on student’s papers as they make them, when an incorrect answer arises, students are asked to explain their process. As a result, students end up with a more thorough logical understanding of the math problems at hand.
Lower student engagement/greater possibility for distraction.

We all get distracted in Zoom meetings, our children are no different. From time to time, the temptation to scroll through TikTok or play computer games off-camera is simply too great for our kids to resist.
Greater scheduling flexibility.

This pro is sort of obvious, if you opt for private online math tutoring, your child can meet with their tutor wherever they can bring their laptop or tablet (here’s our thoughts on which is better for online learning if you’re curious). Without having to commute to a physical location for in-person tutoring, you’re saved time and the stressful constraint of needing to be somewhere.

In-Person Math Tutoring 

Students can share their personal computations/scratchwork with instructors and other students more easily.

During private in-person math tutoring sessions, instructors can read directly from students’ notebooks as they write in them. Moreover, math tutors can help students in real-time as they do algebra and arithmetic. If a student is having trouble articulating exactly what’s tripping them up in math class, their in-person tutor can diagnose the problem by observing them solve problems.
Often less emphasis on graphing/visualizations.

Simply put, during in-person math tutoring there’s less of a need to use the same cool online tools necessary to do online tutoring. Consequently, students are less likely to use these digital tools for visualizing math concepts.
Greater ease collecting and cataloging class notes.

As opposed to private online math tutoring, tutees who attend in-person tutoring are more likely to take their notes in a paper notebook. As stated in the cons of online private math tutoring, my feeling is that students are far more likely to look back and use their notes if they’re written down in a physical notebook.
Students have less chances to work independently/make their own mistakes.

When students are attending online tutoring, there’s a much larger responsibility to learn placed on them. They’re not stuck in a classroom or under the surveillance of their teacher, so much more of their learning is self-motivated. In class, students don’t quite get the same autonomy in their learning.
Access to tutor-supplied materials (e.g., textbooks, whiteboards, calculators).

Though not necessarily true for most private math tutors, tutors at learning centers like Tip-Top Brain have access to scores of textbooks, test-prep books, and math lessons out the wazoo. By attending tutoring in-person math tutors and tutees alike can take full advantage of everything our learning center has to offer.
Narrower selection of educational technology implemented.

Similar to the use of graphing/visualizations being less necessary during in-person private math tutoring, tech is too. It’s possible that you and your private in-person tutor won’t use any tech at all. Though totally fine, I like the idea of students knowing how to use the internet and tech devices to their advantage in all their studies, including math.
Greater demand on students and parents’ time.

In-person or online, what matters is your child loves their tutor and learns from them. While the differences between the two methods of instruction may be large, at the end of the day, your child is sure to get better at math with the additional support. Ready to see your child start rocking their math class? Reserve an online or in-person private math tutor at Tip-Top Brain now.

On Left: Student does virtual learning On Right: Teacher facilitates in-person learning

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