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04 Feb, Saturday
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Montreal Families

Free tutoring for elementary students

Université de Montréal medical student Isabel Kalaycioglu knows that children and parents haven’t had it easy the past year.

Having previous tutoring experience, and wanting to offer help in any way that she could, in May 2020 Kalaycioglu founded C.A.R.I., the COVID Academic Relief Initiative.

“I quickly realized during the lock down that parents were struggling to maintain their workload around the house and at their jobs, while having to also teach their young kids from home [during the school closures]. I thought opening a program for younger kids would be very helpful, as older kids could be more independent when it came to their learning, but younger ones still needed their parents in order to learn.”

Free tutoring

C.A.R.I. offers free tutoring for elementary school children in grades 1-6, and aims to enrich their in-person education at home, or alleviate some of the stress from parents who have chosen to homeschool.

Since starting with a handful of volunteer tutors last spring, C.A.R.I. now has 35 tutors from various universities guiding groups of 4-6 students in their once-a-week classes. Enrolment has surged from an impressive 80 students in its initial week to its current total of 250, with approximately 100 of those having used the service since the beginning. “We continue to have maximum capacity in all of our classes and wait lists for each,”  Kalaycioglu said.

Core subjects in English and French

Classes follow the provincial curriculum and offered by grade level in both English and French. This winter, students can choose from French, creative arts, math, and science classes. And it’s not all reading and writing; within their groups students can socialize together, while learning through a variety of online games, videos, arts and crafts, and experiments.

“We’re also expanding by adding more sections for each of the classes and we are currently looking into adding different types of classes, besides academics. Last summer, we were able to turn into a virtual summer camp with creative classes such as dance, cooking, and book club, so we’re looking into finding tutors to offer these classes again,” explained Kalaycioglu.

Two government grants from Rising Youth Canada have helped improve the quality of services and allowed for the purchase of Zoom accounts. “This gives us many benefits, such as higher quality whiteboard services, video, more secure chat, fewer glitches, fewer complications when inviting parents to meetings, and also allows us to use breakout rooms for games.”

Completely non-profit, Kalaycioglu and tutors all volunteer their time. In addition to teaching classes, tutors also help with administrative work such as promotion of the services, managing social media pages, feedback forms, and finding ways to improve classes.

Supporting children through enriching classes

10-year old Sydney has been enrolled with C.A.R.I. since it first started. “She loves it! Right now she’s taking science, math, French and creative arts. She also took cooking and Spanish when it was offered,” said her mother Andrea Bozikovich-Boris.

Bozikovich-Boris explained that Sydney found it hard when school ended abruptly last year and online learning wasn’t available. “She needed something to do because she was feeling cabin fever being stuck at home and was periodically having some meltdowns. Because she took the Spanish classes that were offered through C.A.R.I., she then took the initiative to continue learning Spanish through Duolingo and is teaching herself a 3rd language right now. She also finds that math, science, and French are extra tutoring sessions as it coincides with what she’s learning at school.”

Register online

Once students have chosen a class and registered, they are in that class for two weeks (1h/week). “After this, they need to sign up again,” explained Kalaycioglu. “Registration is open on our website one week before the new session. However, if students sign up for a new session, they are matched again with their previous tutor.”

To learn more about C.A.R.I and to sign up for a class, make an account on their website at carieducation.org, and click on the Course Registration Tab. If a class is not listed as an option on the form, you can send an email to carieducation@gmail.com to be added to the waitlist.

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