Decades ago, under the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law, some children were eligible for free tutoring, though many children never received it. Now under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), each state gets to decide what kind of educational services it offers. But no matter what state you live in, you can still find free tutoring (or at least low-cost) from kindergarten to college.
What are the benefits of tutoring?
Decades of research suggest that tutoring is one of the most effective ways to support a struggling student. Whether it is individual tutoring or learning in a small group, your child will likely benefit from getting personalized support on their math, reading, or another academic subject. In addition, if your child is struggling with study skills or organization, a tutor can also help refocus your child and help them catch up on their school work.
Even though most public school teachers are required to have teaching credentials, the same is not typically true when it comes to tutors. In fact, a lot of tutoring programs employ college or high school students to support younger students. This means that parents need to do their homework to make sure their child receives tutoring that is truly helpful. Research shows that although the most effective tutoring is done by teachers or other trained experts, peer tutoring can also work well as long as the student tutors have been trained.
If you find a tutoring program connected to your school or district, ask school officials and tutoring service providers whether a tutoring program follows your district’s program of instruction. It’s also important to know whether a tutor will regularly communicate with your child’s teacher and with you. Don’t assume this will happen: always ask.
How to find free tutors near you
In many cases, access to free tutoring is based on your family income. For instance, if your child qualifies for a free or reduced-price lunch or attends a Title I school (where more than 40 percent of the students are from low-income families), your child may have access to special services at your child’s school or district. These services may take place during school hours or after school at your child’s school, or at another local public school. The best way to find out is to ask your child’s school about any free tutoring services offered by your school or the district.
Another important source of free tutoring is your local public library. Many libraries have after-school programs, college counseling programs, and tutoring programs in reading and math. Some of these programs offer individual tutoring in person. Others have arrangements with large national tutoring services, like Tutoring.com to give all children that use their library access to free tutoring. In this case, the tutoring would be online and you would need both an internet connection and a library card number to sign in.
Beyond schools and libraries, who provides affordable tutoring?
Before you begin looking for a tutoring program, first consider what fits your child’s needs and your budget. Read Need to Get a Tutor? Here are Questions You Should Ask for ideas about what to ask when you’re considering a tutor. Tutoring providers can be for-profit companies, nonprofit groups, private individuals, or colleges. Some are large national organizations with hundreds of tutors; others are quite small with just a handful of tutors. Whatever the case, you want a tutor who is a good fit for your child and for your family.
What’s better: Online tutoring vs in-person tutoring?
This is a question you need to ask your child. If the answer is in-person, you should search google for “free tutoring near me” or “free tutoring in [your town or city].” That way you can find out about small, in-person tutoring opportunities that a more general search will not turn up. Some national nonprofits also offer programs with free in-person tutoring.
In many locations, this national nonprofit offers “Power Hour,” an after-school program that helps kids and teens get their homework done. In some locations, it even includes free one-on-one tutoring. Joining the club involves an annual fee of $5 to $50 dollars, but families can apply for financial aid.
YMCA is a national nonprofit that offers a range of services for families, including academic support like low-cost and free after-school homework programs and tutoring. Find the closest YMCA and see what programs they offer. Some YMCAs hire certified teachers in their programs, while others are more like after-school clubs.
How to find free online tutoring
If you decide to search for an online tutor, there’s a wide variety of options to explore. It all can be overwhelming because the No Child Left Behind law created a huge market in online tutors – and some of them haven’t survived. What’s more, some tutoring services are designed only for special groups of students, such as students with learning disabilities. So as you look for online tutors, make sure your child qualifies before you apply.
Tutoring for all children
This ambitious program offers free tutoring for K-12 students. Although it began in Los Angeles, this student-led service now operates nationwide and engages thousands of tutors.
Drawing on thousands of volunteers from universities across the country, CovEducation provides free tutoring and mentoring by partnering with local organizations or school districts. They then match children served by those organizations or districts with one of their volunteer tutors. Check where they operate near you and see if your child can get access to their services.
This online platform for students at least 13 years old offers free peer-to-peer tutoring in live sessions for up to 10 students. Founded by Khan Academy’s Sal Khan, the program is available to students nationwide.
This is another free service that draws on the talents of student volunteers. The platform engages high school students by providing group tutoring sessions in multiple subjects, including math and English, for kids in kindergarten through sixth grade.
Tutoring for students from low-income families
This volunteer organization provides free tutoring to students who come from underserved communities and uses a pay-what-you-can model. The organization offers one-on-one tutoring in all K-12 subjects.
As a nonprofit organization, UPcheive has set a goal that by 2030 it will be able to support all 8 million low-income high school students in the nation. High school students from eligible families can get free online help in math, reading, science, and writing, as well as SAT and college prep.
This nonprofit offers K-12 students from low-income households in 15 states free tutoring through an online platform. Check their website to see if it’s available near you.
For students with learning differences
Dedicated to supporting children with learning differences, these centers offer free in-person individual tutoring in reading to students with dyslexia from grades 1 through 12. All tutors get training in the science of reading. Please note: Your child will need a formal diagnosis to receive services.
For students from military families
This for-profit company provides free online tutoring for children from U.S. military families, including service members, civilian personnel, and their dependents. This special program, which offers students homework help 24/7, can be accessed around the world wherever families live.