Between getting to see friends and going shopping for supplies, back-to-school season is an exciting time for students and parents! However, this year (as you may imagine) has been very different. As a parent, you might feel uncertain as to the quality of education your children are receiving, or be worried about how you will take care of the kids while getting back to work (e.g. Hire a babysitter/nanny? Reduce work hours?). Students, on the other hand, have been feeling cooped up for the past few months, and many feel more than ready to go back to school and see their friends! But the likelihood of returning to classes seems very slim.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Tip-Top Brain has been working on and perfecting solutions to help students with their learning needs. How do we do that remotely, you may ask? Well, we audit our courses over and over again, looking for any friction that we can eliminate or reduce in future classes and gauge student engagement. Moreover, we work with families to ease parents’ and students’ concerns about falling behind this coming year, distance learning homework, scheduling, and emotional support. We know that the pandemic has brought up different needs for different families, and our programs are flexible to address those varying needs! Regardless of why you are considering supplemental academic support or online tutoring, here are just a few elements of our online group classes we are proud of!
- 100% Live, All the Time!
- Involving parents every step of the way – Communication is key!
- Highly-qualified & Engaging Instructors.
- Developing a rapport between child and tutor.
- Individualization – Scaffolding & Differentiating.
- Free Homework Help.
- Becoming a part of a learning community.
100% Live, All the Time!
We remember some schools’ reactions to the start of quarantine. Most of our kids got packets of work and/or were assigned worksheets on Google Classrooms…horrifying for practically everyone involved! While this might be an effective way (debatable) to help students practice skills they already have, it makes it really difficult to teach new skills and keep students engaged. That’s why we believe in 100% live (all the time!) instruction via Zoom. Parents don’t have to worry about printing worksheets and meeting deadlines – all you need to do is help your kids log in at their scheduled time and leave the rest to us! But don’t worry, we’ll always be in communication.
Involving parents every step of the way – Communication is key!
Parents are children’s first teachers – so we do our best to keep them in the loop throughout their child’s time with us! Our tutors send out daily progress reports to parents explaining what content was covered, what the child understood, what they still need improvement with, and what their overall behavior and engagement was like. We are also always willing to meet/chat via Zoom/email/phone with parents, students, and/or teachers to figure out how to better address the individual student’s learning needs and ultimately help them meet their academic goals. Many of our parents have described the daily progress notes they receive as “insightful,” “helpful,” and a “real value add.”
Highly-qualified & Engaging Instructors
When students log into their Tip-Top Brain classes, they will be with a small group of up to 8 peers and a tutor. Our heavily vetted and highly-qualified tutors set up lessons to engage students in a developmentally appropriate way using a variety of methods/pedagogy: choosing materials related to the group’s interests, designing projects related to grade-level Common Core standards, interactive games/activities, and providing opportunities for kids to practice skills in small groups through breakout rooms and the chat feature. Even though online learning is new for all of us, our tutors have years of experience and have been working together to build programs that will best serve students.
Developing a rapport between child and tutor
When we meet new students, we don’t just want to know their test scores. We also ask parents about their child’s interests, how they feel about school, what they hope to get out of tutoring, if they have an IEP, etc. We understand that asking these questions are important because they help us connect with our students on a personal level and adjust our methods to students’ needs. Moreover, research in developmental psychology shows us that children learn through interaction with their environment and with other people. For us, this means that giving students endless worksheets does not constitute an education. At Tip-Top Brain, our tutors strive to build meaningful relationships with each student through small class sizes and student-centered teaching methods, whether we are hosting classes in-person or remotely. This has a few benefits. Firstly, it makes it easier for students to communicate and share when they feel confident, confused, or frustrated with material, which makes it easier for our tutors to quickly address knowledge gaps. Additionally, when students feel comfortable, they are more likely to talk to their tutor about what they are learning about, which builds confidence with academic subjects!
Individualization – Scaffolding & Differentiating
Children’s needs vary and change over time. We accommodate these changes as they come, and work with students and parents to figure out the best way to do so. If we notice a student is struggling with grade level material, we make sure to scaffold the lesson and content as necessary because we know that the lack of scaffolding is one of the biggest reasons why learning breaks down. On the other hand, if we notice a student already has a strong foundation or is grasping the grade level content quicker than their peers, we use differentiation to make sure they are challenged in the class they are in.
Free Homework Help
As we mentioned before, a lot of schools approach online learning using worksheets and other materials that require kids to work alone. This can cause a lot of stress for students and parents alike (especially given the fact that K-12 education has changed so much since parents were in school!). Students in grades 3-8 enrolled in our group classes will be invited to office hours throughout the week. This will be an optional Zoom meeting that kids can attend to ask questions about their homework assignments or about anything that confused them in their teachers’ lessons. Students can receive help during office hours on a first-come, first-serve basis, and the number of hours offered will be adjusted based on our families’ needs, to make sure nobody gets left behind! These sessions were designed to alleviate some of the added pressure parents and students are experiencing with the transition to distance learning.
Becoming a part of a learning community
While this is not something we try to work toward, we have found that our students who have classes in common become quick friends and are motivated by each other’s presence! Before the pandemic, we loved to see our students hanging out in the waiting room before their classes, and after we moved online, our kids often chose to hang out over Zoom after class. This is also something parents can leverage in order to bring some normalcy to the school year this Fall. Building this community of learners is beyond imperative and the old proverb “to go far, go together” could not be more true, especially now.
We understand all parents are experiencing unprecedented levels of uncertainty and unpredictability, with many having exhausted all of their resources. We are here to help you navigate these uncharted waters, with a glimmer of hope. Your child’s education is top priority and it is ours too.