One of the fun side-effects of lockdown is that my 14-year-old daughter no longer has face to face contact with her maths teacher.
And by fun I mean stressful and frustrating for both of us, obviously.
Today, I’m sharing how to book a completely FREE 40-minute online maths class for your child. So whatever that tricky maths topic is that you can’t get your head around – here’s the solution!
Do you need a maths tutor?
Maths has always been a struggle for Flea, but since she started secondary school it’s become more of a problem. Most of the issue is confidence, and particularly around tests. Flea can sail through a maths module in class and then flunk a test because in an exam situation her mind just goes blank.
To combat this, we’ve tried a range of maths support services, from online testing sites to structured maths classes out of school and in-person tuition.
For me, the advantage of this additional support is that it gives Flea a chance to consolidate the learning she does in school. Her struggle with maths is about recall rather than understanding. So this means going over the same material several times, and practicing on lots of questions, presented in different ways is really helpful.
Toota is a new service that combines the convenience of online tuition with the benefits of having a one-to-one tutor. Kids can connect online with a live, qualified maths teacher and work on whatever topics they’re currently struggling with.
We were recently invited to try a complimentary 40-minute class with toota. This came at an ideal time, since Flea is struggling with maths as she no longer has any face time with her teacher and her tutor is not currently working due to the pandemic.
What is toota?
Often if you book regular tutoring, you’re tied to a specific day or time. But what if that time works most of the time, but not all? Or if something comes up and you suddenly can’t get home in time? With toota, you’re not tied to a specific time with your tutor. You can choose a time and day to suit you and change that up as often as necessary.
Because the tutor effectively comes to you, children can access their toota lessons wherever they are. This is ideal for us, because Flea is sometimes with me, sometimes with her Dad. There’s no long-term commitment – book as many lessons as you need, whenever you need.
Perhaps best of all, your child’s toota lessons are recorded meaning they can rewatch them any time. It’s a brilliant way of building up an effective revision library if you have teens.
All the maths tutors with toota are UK registered qualified (QTS) teachers, and have experience working in UK classrooms. Teachers are also matched to students based on learning needs, so you can specify if you need support with exam preparation or need someone with expertise in a particular topic area. Tutors are all required to pass an enhanced with barred lists DBS check, so you can confident your child is in safe (virtual) hands.
One other thing that helps toota to stand apart is that the site is run by the Supporting Education Group. This is the UK’s largest education staffing network outside the Dept for Education. Every teacher is someone the company has interviewed face to face and hand-picked for their experience and suitability for online teaching.
How to get started!
Getting started with toota is pretty easy. To begin with, go to the toota website and enter some basic information to get registered. The site will ask for your child’s age and the level of maths they are currently studying to ensure you get the most appropriate support.
From there, you’ll be invited to choose a time that’s convenient to you for your first lesson. We were impressed to find the schedule was wide open with lots of slots to choose from. I opted for a lunchtime session, and within an hour I’d received a confirmation from Toota that a teacher was available at the requested time.
At this point, I was asked to provide a little more information about my daughter’s needs. We asked for help with the technique for solving quadratic equations. This is a topic that’s quite new to Flea, and she isn’t yet fully confident.
Preparing for your toota lesson
One of the great things about toota is that it’s more than just a Skype call with a teacher. Actually, the tutor can draw diagrams, post questions, and the student can “draw” on the screen with their answer.
For this reason, toota works best on touchscreen devices such as iPads, or if you have a digital pen on your desktop computer that would work well. Otherwise, using a trackpad and finger will work although it’s not nearly as effective. The toota website works best with the Chrome browser, or Safari on an iOS device. I’d also suggest having a calculator and some pens and paper to hand, in case it’s needed.
How do the online lessons work?
At the scheduled time, we were able to log in to the live toota classroom and meet the tutor. Our tutor was Xavier, who has experience of teaching secondary maths, and specifically the “Edexcel” curriculum that Flea is working to.
The tutor quickly explained what the lesson would cover, and checked that Flea was able to use all the website features. He started by asking a few basic questions to ensure Flea was familiar with the methods he would use and explain any areas where she seemed unsure.
From there, he patiently went through a number of different techniques for quadratic equations, drawing equations onto the screen and helping Flea to solve them. I say this but it’s 30 years since I did quadratic equations. Do you solve them? Or resolve them? Who knows? I’d ask my teenager, but she rolls her eyes at me like I’m simple if I ask her anything to do with maths.
After running through the techniques, Xavier asked Flea if she’d like to run through some practice questions, using a different technique each time. He was so patient, and really gave Flea lots of confidence and positive feedback when she got things right. At the end of the questions there was 5-minutes left, and the tutor was happy to make suggestions of activities Flea could do to help her test techniques, or answer questions on anything else she was struggling with.
Our toota review
Having trialled toota, I have a couple of observations:
- The service is more expensive than some tutoring services, but I like that it’s a live connection with a current, qualified maths teacher. The combination of the virtual whiteboard and video feed makes this is really high-quality virtual teaching environment.
- I liked that our tutor had recent experience of teaching in UK schools, and was familiar with the exact curriculum that Flea is studying. I can feel confident this learning will support what Flea is doing at school, rather than confusing her.
- Students can also download any of their lessons, which are recorded automatically, and watch them again. This is really useful when it comes to revision. I can’t have the only teenager who understands something perfectly but remembers zilch when they come to revise three months later.
- The toota site doesn’t require any long-term commitment. You can pay as you go for each lesson, for as long as you need. If you no longer need, you can cancel with immediate effect. I know that with previous services we’ve used, parents have had to provide between 2- and 10-weeks’ notice.
Get a Free Online Maths Class Worth £35!
So many of us are struggling with how to support our kids academically right now.
If you’d like to try toota for yourself, I have a discount code that will let you book a completely FREE taster lesson covering any maths topic you choose. This class would normally cost you £35 but you can try it out completely free by visiting to toota website and entering the code WHOFREE when prompted.
That’s it! If you like toota, then you can book and use classes as much or as little as you need in future. I really hope you give toota a try, and if you do let me know how you get on!
Disclosure: We were provided with a payment for our time in creating this review, however all thoughts are our own.