You’ve been wracking your brain for months to come up with ways to generate extra revenue for your child care business to make up for the shortfall caused by COVID-19 shutdowns. You’ve also been struggling to keep your part-time staff engaged and on your payroll.
Virtual tutoring services can be a great way to address your cash flow problems and keep more of your part-time gems on staff and earning money. And while it may seem like “just one more thing for you to arrange and monitor,” it really doesn’t have to be all that complicated.
Try these tips to get started:
Assess Your Team’s Strengths
Like most people, the folks on your child care staff have their own strengths and weaknesses. The trick to running an effective tutoring service is to understand the strengths of each teacher or aide, and connect them to the children who need them most.
If your child care staff is peppered with college students and early or elementary education majors, you’ve hit the jackpot. They are fresh from the classroom themselves, and they often have their fingers on the pulse of the methods used to teach children various subjects now.
While undergrad staff may not know it all, they know enough to make capable, competent tutors that offer different voices and approaches to learning, regardless of grade.
Here are some examples of specialized areas that will have your virtual tutoring program in high demand:
Staff with a double major in special education or experience working with children with learning disabilities is a huge plus. Child care professionals are compassionate and patient by nature, and if you have someone on staff with a commitment to children with special learning needs, parents of children who need extra support will raise their hands quickly for the assistance your tutoring program provides.
Reading is so important to building a foundation for learning at all ages, and having a staff member who is fully trained or receiving specialized training in child literacy can be a true asset to any staff. Factor in that many parents are brand new to the home-school arena and have zero experience teaching children to read on their own, and you have a tutor on staff that will be in high demand.
The math lover on your staff doesn’t have to be solely focused on fractions (though teaching fractions is not for the faint of heart); any type of math assistance will do! Often, the way parents were taught to solve math problems is quite different from the way school districts and professional teaching associations have decided is the right way to teach it now. Having a teacher proficient in the “new math” will save parents a lot of headaches.
Booking Your Child Care Staff for 1:1 Virtual Tutoring Sessions
Determine staff availability
It does you no good to offer services during times that your child care staff isn’t able to be online, so work with your staff to come up with regular days and times they can be available.
Pro tip: Limit your virtual tutoring sessions to less than 40 minutes. Zoom’s free accounts place a time limit on virtual meetings through their software, so if you keep sessions on the shorter side, you can use free tools to reduce the cost of doing business.
Understand the demand
Create a form for parents to complete that collects the information required for you to be able to match each child’s needs with the best teacher for the job. There are plenty of form builder platforms that offer basic form data collection for free.
Next, link your virtual tutoring sign-up form in an email to parents, post it on your website and social media accounts, and test the waters. As parents sign up, ask them to review your virtual tutoring services and use their quotes to draw in new tutoring students.
You can also consider offering a referral discount to parents who help spread the word about your new service.
Establish a first-come, first-served policy
Dealing with demanding parents who want the best for their children can be challenging during the best of times, and right now, some of them are starting to panic. To avoid conflicts, it’s important to establish a clear policy for your virtual tutoring sign-ups.
First-come, first-served is always a solid start to any sign-up policy. This keeps things fair. But this doesn’t mean that Matthew’s dad can go ahead and book virtual tutoring in Jessica’s long-standing time slot, so make sure you account for your regulars.
Collect virtual tutoring fees in advance
When setting up your virtual tutoring service, it’s a great time to also establish your payment policy for those services. Consider payment in advance – or even at sign-up if you’re able – a must for one key reason:
Staff has committed to working during the times that are booked. When a child skips a virtual tutoring session or a parent cancels at the last minute, you’re still on the hook for the time that tutor set aside for your program. When you collect in advance, your staff still gets paid, and so do you.
That said, flexibility is important when dealing with families, and sometimes, they may schedule a virtual tutoring session that just doesn’t work. A cancellation policy is in order here, so make sure you have one – say 48 hours notice – that is fair for everyone involved.
Why Parents Will Buy In to Virtual Tutoring
The past year of on-again, off-again school, virtual classrooms, and the endless battle to keep kids online and focused when they need to be has left many parents with serious battle scars. But that doesn’t keep them from persevering and powering through each school day because many of them have expressed concerns about their children falling behind academically.
For nearly a year, many parents have juggled working from home, helping with in-home learning, and assisting their children of a variety of ages from toddler to teen with classwork – all at the same time. That’s a balancing act that’s nearly impossible to maintain long-term and feel like you’re achieving success across the board.
Parents who are labeled “essential workers” and are required to work outside of the home have been arranging child care when centers aren’t open, and scrambling for in-home supervision for their school-age students while they work.
Regardless of whether they are at home or at work, parents have a nagging feeling that in-home learning is negatively impacting early child development and affecting children’s ability to achieve the developmental milestones that teachers might look for when evaluating student growth.
Sometimes, they just aren’t qualified to help, so they’re turning to the internet to try to find the guidance their children need, when they should just be turning to you.
Incorporating a virtual tutoring service into your child-centered business isn’t complicated, and it can make the difference between operating in the red and losing valuable staff with potential star power and surviving the financial aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.