With the chaos of COVID-19, combined with social distancing and closed schools, learning from home can be very challenging. For new Canadians, refugee parents, and their children, these challenges come on top of an already steep learning curve. To help these students succeed, University of Winnipeg’s Faculty of Education students are offering virtual homework help.
Using Zoom, an online chat service, UWinnipeg’s future teachers provide one-on-one support to students in several subjects, including English, French, math, and geography. Students can sign-in on Mondays and Wednesdays, anytime between 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm, to access the help they need. The tool also provides support for parents attempting to tutor their children at home.
“Closures of schools and community agencies have families feeling anxious and uncertain about how to support their kids through their studies, as well as tend to the rest of their responsibilities,” said Kari McCluskey, coordinator of the program. “We hope our program is a helpful tool kit to help ease the anxiety of the parents and the students, and they can continue to learn while away from school.”
Currently there are 40 students donating their time and expertise to serve in the virtual tutoring classroom.
“Our students are amazing!” said McCluskey, noting that when the call was put out for volunteers, the response to help was overwhelming.
The program is already receiving positive responses from parents, who are very grateful for this support.
Malou Josue, acting newcomer support worker for the Winnipeg School Division said her daughter had a very positive experience with virtual tutoring. She plans to spread the word to other families who can benefit from the program.
“My daughter participated in this, and it was a great help,” said Josue. “I’d like to make a shout out to the tutor, Kyla, who assisted her with her math homework. Kyla was very patient and supportive, and gave her realistic techniques to solve math questions. I learned something too, and encourage parents to try this out with their children.”
Some children prefer this type of learning. A parent named Sisi shared that her son especially likes to communicate with his teacher through the online chatroom.
“He has been insisting on three hours to help complete his four pages of homework, which is amazing,” she said.
The UWinnipeg tutor-volunteers share the same positive experience.
“The virtual tutoring program is a unique and rewarding experience for me,” said Navdeep Dhaliwal. “I’m really excited, as a future educator, to be able to be part of this great initiative. Moreover, I feel rewarded to know that my small contribution is making a positive impact on the lives of some students and their families.”
Keauna Oliver-Hanna agrees.
“It’s great to be able to help during this stressful and scary time,” she said. “I know a lot of students, families, and teachers are stressed about online or at-home learning, so I’m happy to make it easier in anyway I can.”
It has been a great way for UWinnipeg education students to gain experience while giving back to the community.
“The UWinnipeg tutoring program has provided a way for education students like me to participate in the betterment of my community during this trying time,” shared Jonah Simmonds, a tutor. “The opportunities that have been presented for gaining experience working with youth is phenomenal and creates fascinating interactions between students and teachers alike.”
For more information on virtual tutoring, contact Kari McCluskey at email@example.com.