New home tutoring services help kids with after-school classes

Pic source: myprivatetutor.com

Katerina Milkova, a working mother in Bangalore, wanted a personal tutor for her son who is in 5th grade. She tried a couple of home tutoring service providers, and her search ended when she found EON Education. They met her at her convenience and explained the process very professionally. They provided a demo class for her and arranged for a passionate teacher to come home.

The tutor writes what has been taught in a logbook, with the date and duration of the class. My son is also given tests by her and his scores are recorded. It is really easy for me to track the activity and the progress. My son has also gotten into the habit of sitting and studying on his own, even on days when the tutor doesn’t come, which is a very satisfactory change” says Katerina.

Home tutoring is mainly chosen by people who need someone to come home and teach for various reasons, be it a physical constraint to go out or a personal commitment, need for a personalised attention or simply a more convenient option than going to a tuition center. While families earlier found private tutors through word-of-mouth, with the growth of technology, they are able to choose from a range of sophisticated, accessible and convenient options. This ease of access is what is making home tutoring services popular among busy Bangaloreans.

Web-based services like Flipclass, Think Vidya etc. provide a way to select the right tutor, based on multiple criteria. They have a large pool of home tutors to teach children on various subjects, both from the school curriculum, as well as extra-curriculars. They also support competitive exams. Many people who want to work part time, or after office-hours, and have a passion for teaching, find tutoring an attractive and convenient option .

There is another category of online tutors assisting students using audio visual tools like Skype, in a virtual environment. Efficient teachers from anywhere in the country, even remote areas can assist the student. However, there is no physical presence and its associated advantages. This also requires high speed internet connectivity, which may not work for all.

Where to find home tutors?

www.hometuitionbangalore.com
A website from EON Education which offers one-no-one tutorials, help with homework and tuition at home.

www.cityhometution.com
A website where both students and tutors can look for each other.

www.flipclass.com
This website offers part-time tutoring jobs too.

www.brilliantacademy.org
Along with home tutoring, this wesbite claims to provide tutoring services to children of low-income families, through corporate partnerships.

www.myprivatetutor.com
This website has a registry of tutors on every subject ranging from English to Mathematics to Java script.

How does this work?

Home tutor services like Flipclass select their tutors through written tests, interviews and psychometric assessment. Document and background verification are done to ensure quality and safety. The tutors are trained to suit the model of coaching that the service provider adopts.

Tutors are allocated to students depending on the student requirement, area of residence and any other demands like gender, time of day, disciplining ability of tutor etc. Some websites leave this choice to the students. Websites like myprivatetutor.com and thinkvidya.com offer in-depth details like tutor experience, reviews, certifications etc, enabling the students to make the best choice.

Home tutoring services run by offering monthly/quarterly/half yearly/annual service. Some of them even provide crash courses for people coming down from abroad and seeking to learn some skill.

Generally, a registration fee is collected from the student by the service provider. Then the tuition fee is collected as per the number of sessions, either by the service provider or in some cases, this is decided on between the tutor and the student directly. The fee generally varies from Rs 4,000 to Rs 8,000 per month, says Founder and CEO of Flipclass, Vineet Dwivedi.

Rajeev Ranjan from Brilliant Academy says they do not charge anything from the students apart from the annual fee of  Rs 2,000 which goes for managing the sessions, tracking the improvement, minor dispute management etc.  He adds that the tuition fee depends on the number of hours, and might be around Rs 300 per hour for a 10th grade student. “Since there is a huge competition emerging in the area, now a lot of bargaining happens,” he adds.

Some home tutoring services charge the tutor a one-time registration fee, whereas some do it on a first-assignment-commission basis. Some do it for free of cost on the tutor end, and charge only for a premium visibility on the website.

Ranjan says that the demand is more from IT areas like Marathahalli, whereas Dwivedi observes that highest requirements are from South Bangalore, compared to any other region. He also says the home tutoring services are commonly opted for by students who are into sports, thus enabling them to get the benefits of both worlds.

Home tutors help the students in their homework and projects. They conduct regular exams to assess the improvement. EON Education claims that it even checks students diaries regularly, reviews the school teacher’s remarks and take required action. Anupam, Chief Technology Officer of EON Educations says, “Progress tracking is an important part of our home tuition program. When a student is admitted in our program, we take the information such as their current grade level, percentage and so on. We monitor our tuition classes to track improvement as a result of our tutoring. We also take regular feedback from parents and teachers. More than 95% of parents have reported visible academic improvement in their children as a result of our service”.

Venkat Rao from City Home Tuition notes that even homemakers seek their service, for instance to learn a language to teach their school-going children. He adds that senior citizens too are keen on learning new skills.

How is home tutoring different from conventional tutoring?

A conventional class in progress. Pic: Shamsheer Yousaf

Home tutoring services like EON Education, Flipclass, City home tuition etc. offer a demo class by the tutor at the start, to enable parents to decide if it works for their children. Many of them also offer replacement tutors, in case the student or parent is unsatisfied with the teaching method, or if teacher cannot continue classes due to his/her own reason, or if they are irregular in taking classes. They also compensate for the classes that a teacher misses on accord of sickness, travelling, quitting his/her job, etc. Unlike conventional tuition centers, students have the luxury of being able to choose the time of the day when they want to attend classes.

“High level of filtering before tutor recruitment, optimal mapping of tutors to students and post matching support in terms of assessment and worksheet-based tracking of improvement makes us stand out in the field,” says Vineet Dwivedi.

Tech-savvy organisations like Flipclass closely track the service, by building a platform to monitor the tuition sessions.  Their tools keep a tab of sessions taken, sessions rescheduled etc. As complicated as it seems, Flipclass claims to monitor Bangalore traffic and gives an alarm to the tutor accordingly to start early in case there is traffic. They have an application for the tutors to login session start and end, and plan to introduce one such app for students shortly. Anupam adds that at present they are developing an educational call centre for their students which connects students directly to expert teachers. Students will be able to get their questions clarified by simply ringing up the call centre, and being put in contact with teachers.

What are the downsides to home tutoring?

  • Home tutoring services may not offer a structured and proven teaching method like a conventional mass tuition center, since the teaching is personalised.
  • The benefits of group learning don’t exist.
  • Most homes tutoring services conduct rigorous background checks, but they do not take responsibility for your safety. Their duty ends with finding a suitable tutor.
  • The fee depends on subjects and number of sessions, and is relatively higher than mass tuition centers for obvious reasons.  Most of the dissatisfaction from parents comes from this aspect.
  • The tutors may not be experienced and at times may be not be serious about teaching.  

Vatsala Dhananjay tried Thinkvidya for Grade 11 and 12 tutoring, but was not happy with the demo classes they provided. The people who approached her were software professional giving after-office hours tuition, while she was looking for professional tutors. She finally found someone who came recommended through one of her friends.

On the other hand, Malini Parmar was looking for Grade 4 Mathematics and Science tutor. She approached Flipclass. They sent a final-year engineering student. While the tutor looked inexperienced, she was sincere. Malini decided to go ahead and she is quite happy with her decision.

What are the safety measures/precautions to be taken?

Rajeev Ranjan from Brilliant Academy is happy to report that in his experience of around seven years, there has not been one untoward incident. Venkat Rao from City Home Tuition observes that most tutors are very well behaved, but he warns that it is always better to take precautions like collecting ID proof copies etc.

With the risk of abuse on every parent’s minds, here are a few precautionary steps:

  • Ensure that you have the complete contact details of the tutor.
  • Collect a copy of ID proof and address proof from the tutor.
  • Encourage children to share feedback about the tutor, in terms of teaching as well as behavior.
  • In case of a negative experience, escalate the issue to the service provider at the earliest.
  • Keep the relationship with the tutor at professional.
  • Do not lend any money to the tutor.  In case the arrangement is such that you speak monetary terms directly with the tutor, do that at the very beginning.
  • Try to be at home during your child’s tuition timings, if not ask a family member or a neighbour  to keep an eye out.

Dr. Shaibya Saldanha, co-founder of Enfold, an NGO working to create awareness on child sex abuse, says that the most important aspect of child safety is to have a tutor in agreement with the child. Parents need to exhibit a strong trust in child, which can make the child feel free to report any signs of possible abuse.

Pointers for home tutors

If you are a home tutor, here are some things that you could do:

  • Provide all contact details to the service provider.
  • Please ensure that you let someone know where you go and what time are you expected back.
  • In case of a negative experience, escalate the issue to the service provider at the earliest.

Have you tried a home tutoring service? If yes, do share your experience in the comments section below.

About Sowrabha Karinje 3 Articles
Sowrabha Karinje is an ex-techie, currently a stay-at-home mom. She is curious about everything under the sun and writes about the environment and other issues.

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