Lately, conversations with my 12-year old go a little something like this: “So, um, take the numerator and the denominator and multiply it with the other side. Wait no, maybe you add it? Hang on, it’s been a couple of decades since I last did this, I’m going to have to ask Google.”
Grade 7 math hasn’t been easy on any of us this year. Actually, neither has Grade 2 work, and I’ve pretty much used up all my “phone a friend” options while trying to figure out homework with other equally-perplexed parents. “Is this a trick question?” we all ask each other.
What’s a parent to do when trying to help their kids navigate through online schoolwork, complex math problems, and French verbs?
Luckily, in Quebec, we have LEARN (Leading English Education and Resource Network). LEARN is a nonprofit educational organization with a mandate to serve the English-speaking community of Quebec. On its website, teachers, students, parents, and community members can access free resources as well as a full range of online services. The most popular one is its virtual tutoring and homework help services, provided at no charge to support students at the elementary and secondary levels (Grades 2 to 11). The free tutoring is available to all students registered in a public or private English school in Quebec, including homeschoolers registered with an English school board.
Experienced teachers and personalized service
The tutors are certified Quebec teachers; experienced in tutoring, review, and consolidation. “These are teachers who are already practicing; they have the experience, they know exactly what the curriculum is, and they’re the teachers who you will find in schools across the province,” says Carolina Toteda, Program Integration, Marketing and Communications Lead at LEARN. “Your child might get a teacher who’s actually already teaching in their school!”
Through Zoom, students receive one-on-one support in subjects such as English, French, History, Math, Sciences, and more. “We’ve been doing this since 1999, so it’s not because of the pandemic; we’ve always offered the virtual service,” Toteda says. “It’s completely personalized, depending on what the student needs. Whether the child needs tutoring because they have an issue with comprehension, or they could be struggling and need extra help, or they really want to excel. We adapt the session for the child’s needs and their learning abilities. That’s the focus of our tutors. And they’re really great at it.”
Wesley Tomkinson is a Grade 8 student from the West Island who has benefited from these services. “I think that LEARN’s tutoring is very well done, the teachers are friendly and will help mould your lesson to you to help you learn your own way. I’ve enjoyed my lessons so far, and I am definitely going to be continuing them in the future,” he said.
A surge in tutoring requests
LEARN tutoring has grown exponentially since last year. Toteda says that from January to June 2020, sessions more than doubled at the elementary level, and tripled at the high school level. Pre-pandemic, LEARN employed 60 tutors and, as of publication, were up to 115. They continue to recruit teachers to be able to offer the free service to more students.
Registration for LEARN tutoring is ongoing
There’s no specific date by which you need to register. Students can request tutoring for a week, two weeks, three weeks, a month, or the whole year. “Some students request a tutor because they have an important exam or evaluation coming up and will get tutoring for a month and then that’s it,” Toteda said. “But I have to say, this year most kids have been in it since the beginning.”
The sessions are available evenings from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. from Monday to Thursday, with fall, winter, and spring sessions. Elementary students can take a maximum of one, 30-minute appointment per week, while secondary students are eligible for a maximum of two, 30-minute appointments (in different subjects) per week. At times, they are able to offer last-minute appointments to students on their waiting list. There is no restriction on the number of children per household.
Other educational resources available
LEARN has been running virtual tutoring for more than two decades, and were prepared to expand its services when in-person school was cancelled in March 2020. Soon after, it launched learn@home, a special resource page available to engage students while schools were closed.
“A lot of parents were anxious, they were feeling overwhelmed,” Toteda says. “So we created the page and included different resources, games, and activities that support various subject areas. The entire LEARN team including our tutors contributed suggestions, so these are fun resources that they use with the children in their classes.” The page remains active and includes resources for children in Kindergarten to Grade 11, as well as resources for Adult General Education, and Writing Tools for Students with Special Needs.
To sign up for tutoring sessions, students need a computer, earphones or speakers, and internet access.