Jul 21, 2020 in Tutoring

Can I start a pandemic learning pod to teach my child during lockdown?

With schools closed across the world to prevent the spread of coronavirus, many parents have turned to creative solutions...

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With schools closed across the world to prevent the spread of coronavirus, many parents have turned to creative solutions to get their children educated. Indeed, we’ve suggested how you can support your children at home in learning about subjects such as the USA or bees.


One idea that some parents in the US have turned to is creating their own “pandemic pods” - where a small group of parents get a cluster of their children together to be taught professionally, like an informal mini-school. Others are doing the teaching themselves, rotating the task between them to play to their strengths and share the load. 


This isn’t risk-free. In some countries and regions, it’s illegal to bring a group of children from different households together in a setting where social distancing isn’t likely to be observed. While it’s probably safer to have a small “pod” than a full school of hundreds of children mingling together, it’s still going to increase all households’ risk of contracting coronavirus. And in a UK setting, most people looking after a child that they’re not related to for more than 2 hours a day need to register with Ofsted too.


While a “pandemic pod” might initially seem like a good idea, then, setting one up in the UK might not be advisable, or even possible. But that doesn’t mean you have to suffer through homeschooling without any support through the summer and into the autumn. 


Options such as virtual online schooling, homeschooling with a team of tutors, or even hiring a residential tutor for a short term are all possible. Hiring a tutor isn’t just advantageous because they’ll be an expert in their field - it also means your relationship with your child doesn’t have to be dominated by your attempts to get them to study. You might also find they’re more willing to work when the instructions are coming from an alternative authority figure rather than the person who tucks them up in bed every night. And in contrast to a “pandemic pod” with lots of different children with differing needs, the tutoring you choose can be tailored around your child’s requirements. For instance, if they’ve kept up well in English but fallen behind in Maths, then that can be the focus.


Which type of tutoring is best will vary depending on your family situation. Hiring a tutor offers you flexibility to choose the approach that’s best for you, and for keeping your child’s learning on track. However if you are looking for tutoring with a team of tutors or residential here are our 5 top tips to help you choose wisely


  1. Test out the relationship between tutor and student – before getting a residential/in-person tutor to come to you, why not try a few online lessons first. This way you can see if a tutor is the right fit for your child.

  2. Generalist vs specialist – a generalist may be great helping a student with revision and exam technique, but a specialist will be better helping a child understand the content of the exam. Bare in mind that a GCSE student will need a specialist, whilst a primary school student can do with a generalist.

  3. Set clear boundaries – whether it is with one tutor or a team of tutors, you need to be clear about your goals, working hours and what to do if your child doesn’t want to work one day. Remember, a tutor is not a nanny (even if they bring cooking into their lessons they aren’t there to cook!)

  4. Discuss logistics – you’ll know whether your child will learn best in long spurts or half days. Make sure this is communicated with the tutor.

  5. Feedback – regularly sit down with your tutor and gather feedback. Not just about results, but also your child’s attitude to learning. Your tutor will be spending lots of time with your child so it’s a good idea to build up a solid working relationship.

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