Faced With More Remote Learning, Parents Turn to Each Other for Help

Some North Texas families are considering sharing tutors, remote learning together

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Heather Alconcel posed a question on a Facebook page for Frisco parents Monday -- asking if any were willing to share a tutor when school starts.

“I’m trying to see if there are other moms out there in the same boat,” Aconcel said. “What are we going to do? How are we going to do this?”

After navigating remote learning earlier this year, Alconcel said she and her husband want help. They have a child entering the second grade and another starting kindergarten. She said a learning pod, kind of a nanny share for tutors, is likely her family’s best option.

“A group of five or six, sharing the expenses of school maybe four hours a day, where they all can sit 6 feet apart,” Alconcel said. “Somebody has to be creative.”

With many North Texas school districts starting the year with remote learning and others offering it as an option for the foreseeable future, parents are increasingly searching for support to help their kids learn from home.

“There’s a desperate need for information and to connect,” Michelle Ames said,

She started a Facebook page called “Frisco ISD Virtual Learners” last Tuesday. It’s grown to more than 2,000 members in a matter of days.

Ames said her daughter learns better with at least another peer. She started the page after she looked into partnering with another family to do some remote learning together.

Ames said parents are desperate to find a better way this fall.

“It was a need for belonging and a need to validate,” she said. “How do I find information? Who knows what? More minds working together than each of us individually.”

David Dillard, president of KD College Prep, said he sees a new surge of interest in college prep and tutoring courses for older students in the pandemic. He said many families are concerned their kids could fall behind during a critical time.

“I think they’re very frustrated. Many of them are mourning the life that they had before, wishing it would all just go away and it’s not. It’s not going to go away for a little while,” Dillard said.

His company offers a combination of remote and in-person tutoring. Dillard said he reminds students that adapting to remote learning is a skill they’ll take with them to college and beyond.

“Businesses are doing the same thing. A student who learns how to utilize these tools is equipping themselves for the future,” he said.

But students from low-income families that are already struggling to learn without reliable internet access or computers, face being left behind without the additional support of learning pods or tutors.

“Us, as a society, have to be looking for those gaps and where do we need to support?” Dillard said.

Alconcel said she priced out a childcare program that offers remote learning support and decided she will have to get creative.

“Fourteen hundred dollars a month for two kids to help them with online learning. Yeah, that’s where I’m at,” Alconcel said.

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