This week, mum of two Billie joined us from her home in Western Australia. See our previous interview with Alli here.
“We started homeschooling about two and a half years ago,” says Billie, who took on the role of English teacher for the first eighteen months. This year, however, Billie found it harder to work through the literacy requirements for her two teenage children. “It was something that we always ended up arguing about because they always thought I was having a go at them when I was actually just trying to give them some direction.”
“Because of the friction that the type of senior literacy component causes within our family, I decided to look outside of the box and try and find something where they could be taught, as opposed to being tutored.”
“We looked at local tutors and I looked online, and that’s where Cluey came along. There are other providers who do online tutoring, but they don’t look outside of the box when someone says, “I want you to take over the literacy component of my curriculum”. That’s basically what Cluey does for us.”
To follow their custom Cluey program, Billie’s tutor, Carolyn, sees her children for separate sessions once per week and sets them a writing task to complete in their own time.
“They spend 45 minutes each and they cover the entire work that most kids do in a couple of weeks at school because it’s so condensed and so concentrated and we get through things a lot quicker.”
On choosing the right tutor
When it came to finding the right tutor, Billie wanted someone passionate, who could approach lessons with a bit of creativity.
“My kids need inspiration — it’s pretty boring to sit and have to write when you don’t really want to write. Carolyn always brings it back to what they enjoy, as opposed to saying, “You must write about this,” which is what often happens in school.”
It’s the personalised approach which Billie feels makes all the difference to the positive attitude her children now bring to each lesson. “They can go off and actually enjoy the work that they do, as opposed to feeling like it’s a burden.”
“It’s also encouraging them to be more independent because someone isn’t looking over their shoulder. I certainly don’t look over their shoulder — I leave that to Carolyn.”
On finding the right fit with one-to-one
Billie found learning centres and group tutoring scenarios too reminiscent of the classroom situation which didn’t originally work for her family.
“It doesn’t matter where you are, it’s still the same spectrum of types of kids. You get the ones who are always making noise and then you’ve got the other kids who are just a little too academic. This is a one-on-one event for us.”
On engaging with an online format
Billie strongly believes that her teenagers are digital natives who genuinely don’t see online as a barrier to any sort of engagement.
“These kids are brought up in a world of technology. It’s organic. It’s so normal in their eyes,” she says.
In addition to their actual sessions, Billie uses Cluey’s ability to record sessions to help her satisfy the requirements for homeschooling.
“After each session, Carolyn sends through her report which lists their homework for the week. On top of that I request their session recordings because we get moderator visits every year to show the work that they’ve been doing.”
“It’s also a way for them to review their own learning so there’s no pressure for them to remember all of the work they do in each session.”
On the Cluey Way
When dealing with (often sensitive) teenagers, educational support from an outside tutor can reduce the pressure that parents can feel when giving (obviously very reasonable) feedback in an emotionally charged situation.
Online learning minimises logistical demands, too. Getting to and from a tutor’s house or learning centre doesn’t become another item to squeeze into the family schedule. In the case of Billie, online learning gives her family freedom to ‘do school’ wherever they’re living. “We can travel, we can do whatever we like and the kids will still have their lesson because we’ll still have internet service.”
Watch our interview highlights here and stay tuned for more parent insights over the coming weeks.