Group Zooms aren't cutting it: Caretakers turn to tutoring to help with learning loss during pandemic

Posted at 7:01 AM, Jan 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-29 08:01:21-05

Virtual and hybrid learning has become an eye-opener for moms, dads and grandparents tasked with being the teacher. In some cases, they're seeing their kid struggle for the first time.

Shar Retzlaff is helping her four grandchildren with remote learning -- twins in 3rd grade, one in 7th, and one in 8th grade.

"I can't do the math with the kids," Retzlaff said.

"It's been pretty challenging. I mean I'm a retired teacher and working with four kids I can do a lot more than other people can probably and I'm home and I'm retired, but it's challenging," she continued.

Sue Schoeppel's teens have gone back and forth from in-person to virtual learning. Her kids are doing fine in class but needed more one-on-one attention.

"Get your son or daughter the help before they really need it," Schoeppel said.

"In science classes, they're not having as many in-person labs anymore and laboratories, that hands-on knowledge can really enhance a child's understanding of a subject," Schoeppel continued.

Both Retzlaff and Schoeppel signed up their students for tutoring sessions at Sylvan learning center at $52 an hour.

TMJ4 News interviewed Sylvan Learning Center's Director of Education Mary Schilling and Owner Kathie Van Milligen.

"What kind of specific struggles are you seeing with the kids?" TMJ4 News' Kristin Byrne asked.

"I would say just helping them grasp at the virtual," Mary Schilling said.

"Especially our little guys. Those are the ones we see really, really hurting," said Van Milligen.

Every two students are paired up with a teacher for tutoring at their Brookfield location. Kids ages five to late teens are welcome and sessions are tailored to a child's' needs. Face masks are mandatory.

"We're distancing the students, we've put some plastic barriers between the teachers and the students," said Schilling.

Even so, engagement is happening. It's a confidence boost caretakers say is desperately needed.

"Even though they can reach out to their classroom teachers, they often don't. So having them go to Sylvan and request the help, that has really benefitted them," Retzlaff said.

"It has definitely been an extra voice in the room. I think that has been a big game-changer," said Schoeppel.

Milwaukee Public Library also has tutors on hand to help your students at no cost.

Several programs used to be in-person but are now are online.

Check out to learn more.

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