Virtual Tutoring Offers Great Benefits to Mercy Home’s Kids
Even as Mercy Home faces many changes as a result of the pandemic, what has not changed is that we continue to prioritize our young people’s education and we remain committed to helping them succeed in school. The beginning of the new school year brings ongoing challenges related to e-learning, as well we a new first for the Home–virtual tutoring.
Tutoring is one of the most important services Mercy Home provides our kids to help them achieve academically. By offering our young people support and encouragement in completing homework and studying, and by helping them build strong academic habits, our tutors play a big role in our kids’ educational growth. With that in mind, the coworkers in our Education and Career Resources department knew that it was crucial that our young people would continue to have access to tutors this year in a way that was safe for everyone.
Suzanne Bush, the coordinator of tutoring and after school programs, explained that the extra academic help is especially important because so many of our children come to Mercy Home several years behind in school.
“This gives them the opportunity to receive some additional educational support that they need,” she said. “I think sometimes they receive help better from outside sources than our staff who work with them all day long. It’s a new, fresh face. And I think there’s a lot of intergenerational pieces that go into that as well. … A lot of our tutors are a bit older, so [the kids] get that intergenerational relational opportunity.”
Virtual tutoring has also been an opportunity for our kids to develop good habits even as they attend school remotely.
“This is an opportunity for kids to work on some of those higher-level executive function skills, [like] study strategies, organization, which looks so much different now [because] virtual organization is key, how to send appropriate emails, and how to organize an inbox,” Suzanne said. “All those skills are really going to shoot them into the future.”
This is an opportunity for kids to work on some of those higher-level executive function skills, [like] study strategies, organization, which looks so much different now.
Switching to virtual tutoring, however, has provided Suzanne with her share of challenges. Virtual tutoring is held through Microsoft Teams, which she had to train every tutor to use. In addition to introducing the platform to our tutors, Suzanne also provided them training on virtual boundaries and other skills to make tutoring remotely a success.
“There’s been a few hiccups,” Suzanne admitted. “Teams is not perfect by any means, but we’ve been able to troubleshoot much quicker on some of the issues that have come up. … We’ve actually come into a pretty good place where I know at least what tech issues there are and can solve them.”
The switch to virtual tutoring has also been an adjustment for our tutors, some of whom were less comfortable with using new technology. Suzanne said she’s done her best to overcome that challenge by providing lots of encouragement and tips for simple ways to work with our kids by utilizing basic programs like Microsoft Paint or Microsoft Word. Suzanne and Brittany Terrell, the director of education resources, also created virtual study binders for each of the kids so that there is always something for them to work on with their tutors.
And while it’s taken some creativity, tutoring is off to a strong start and the kids have already adjusted to the change.
“To be honest, I think they’ve adapted really well,” Suzanne said.
“[The kids] seem to have bought into virtual tutoring, and I think the sessions are going great. … They’re very adaptive and resilient with this.”
One of our young men, Wonyell, said that he had been looking forward to working with his tutor from the time school started.
“I’m actually excited for it,” he said, explaining that the tutoring he received in the past was especially helpful for him.
Alexadded that his tutors provide him with the extra support he needs to be successful.
“They help me with homework,” he explained. “And that helps me do better in school.”