Whether your kid is struggling to read or to understand advanced calculus, some additional one-on-one instruction can make a world of difference. That’s why parents hire tutors — to boost their kids’ academic progress beyond the constraints of the school day.
But finding the funds to pay a tutor can be tough for a family on a budget. Costs vary, but it’s not unheard of to spend between $40 and $80 … per hour. And if your child is really struggling, chances are you’re going to need way more than one hour.
Here are some alternative ways to get educational assistance, even free tutoring, without breaking the bank.
6 Low-Cost or Free Tutoring Options
1. Get Extra Help With an Online Tutor
Online tutors don’t need a brick-and-mortar building, and they eliminate the need for anyone to commute. Everything is accessible with the click of a mouse. Your screen is your virtual whiteboard.
Some free or low-cost online tutoring websites include:
- Khan Academy — a nonprofit organization that provides a wide range of free lessons to students all over the world.
- Learn to Be — a Los Angeles-based nonprofit organization that provides free one-on-one tutoring to K-12 students in underserved communities.
- Chegg Study — a 24/7 tutoring service for high school and college students where you pay $14.95 a month for expert homework help from a variety of subjects including math, science, engineering and business.
- Free Tutoring Center — a student-run service that provides free one-on-one tutoring to elementary and middle schoolers from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.
- UPchieve — a free online tutoring app where volunteer tutors provide academic help in various math and science subjects. This service also offers free college counseling.
- Varsity Tutors — an education platform that offers free large group classes and free learning tools for self-study. For more individualized help, Varsity Tutors charges for one-on-one tutoring and small group classes.
- Outschool — an online learning platform that has a variety of classes for kids ages 3 to 18. Filter your class search by price to find offerings for $9 or less.
2. Browse Your Library’s Offerings
If you’re only using your library card to check out books, you’re likely missing out on all the neat opportunities your library has to offer. Some tutoring companies like Tutor.com and Brainfuse partner directly with public libraries to provide free online tutoring to students.
Ask your librarian about what your local branch offers. Outside of partnering with an online service, your library might host free or low-cost test prep or homework help. Your librarian might also know of students or teachers who offer affordable tutoring. At the very least, you can get pointed in the direction of helpful reference books and research materials related to your child’s topic of study.
3. Go Back to School
Sometimes the best place to get help is directly from your child’s teacher. He or she already knows your child’s unique challenges and learning style and is invested in seeing your kid improve.
Schedule a parent/teacher meeting to ask about opportunities for extra instruction. The teacher may be free to help your child during a study hall period, and you can bypass paying for a Saturday afternoon tutoring session.
Also, ask if there’s a peer tutoring program at school where older students or students excelling in a particular subject volunteer to aid those who need extra help.
Consider that the help may come from outside your kid’s individual school. National Honor Society members at the local high school might have an outreach program that would benefit your struggling middle schooler. Community colleges sometimes have academic resources available for high school students at low or no cost.
4. Be Selective About After-School Programs
Until kids are old enough to go home to an empty house, working parents often turn to after-school programs and extracurriculars. While karate practice and dance lessons sound fun, your kid won’t be working on math equations or language arts.
You can save money by choosing an after-school program that includes tutoring services. The Boys and Girls Club and the YMCA are two national youth nonprofits that often provide help with homework or studying for tests.
5. Call on Your Community for One-on-One Tutoring
Don’t underestimate the power of your social circle. Your friends or coworkers may know of organizations in your city that provide free or low-cost tutoring.
Ask the parents of your kids’ friends for recommendations on affordable tutors. An older sibling of your child’s best friend might be a math whiz. You may be able to barter with a classmate’s mom, exchanging tutoring sessions for free babysitting.
6. Give Into Screen Time on YouTube
Now this last one isn’t quite tutoring in the traditional sense, but you can turn to YouTube for almost anything these days — including K-12 subject matter. In most cases, you’ll be able to access instructional videos at no cost.
The video-sharing platform just might get your kids to see their worst subject in a new light and find learning — dare I say it? — fun.
Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.