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Mama Mia

'My kids want to do it': How live, online tutoring changed Justine's family for the better

Justine Whitfield was a typical Sydney mum with not enough hours in her day, rushing around while taking her kids to multiple after-school activities.

When something had to give, she made a decision to make things easier, replacing her in-person tutoring sessions with a live, online version which sees her kids log in from home to interact with their tutor.

The benefits, she says, made a huge difference to her busy weeknights.

"I work full time as a therapist and I have three kids; Tiahna, Joel and Hallie," Justine tells Mamamia.

"Life is busy, just as it is in every family, but I found that our weekday afternoons especially were a lot, with me rushing from work and then driving everyone around to their activities.

"As parents, you want to give your kids all the opportunities, but I knew something had to give."

A year ago, with Tiahna in Year 10, Joel in Year 8, and Hallie in Year 5, Justine realised there could be a better way to give her kids access to after-school tutoring without compromising on the quality of the educational support all three needed.

"Tiahna was preparing for the Duke of Edinburgh awards, so had all these extra commitments. But then, she also needed some support with school," Justine explains.

"Joel needed help with English and Maths, especially with his transition to high school. And Hallie wanted support in NAPLAN prep.

"Of course, you’re happy to put in the time to schedule it all… but with the tutoring especially, I found myself driving up to 45 minutes away, then waiting in the car for another 40, then driving all the way back again.

"I’ll admit, as a working mum, I found doing that difficult."

There was something else not quite right with the tutoring Justine had organised.

"It wasn’t always easy to find the best fit for us," she says.

"Some of the tutors weren’t in the school system anymore, so they weren’t familiar with the curriculum. We even found some of what the kids were learning with their tutors actually conflicted with what they were learning in class, too, which was difficult."

In addition to learning content, Justine really struggled to find tutors she liked for her children, or tutors in her local area that matched her kids’ personalities. That’s when she trialled online tutoring with Cluey Learning, which offers tutoring for years 2 to 12.

Once she made the decision to enrol all three with Cluey, Justine says they never looked back.

"Doing tutoring from the comfort of our home – I can’t tell you how much that changed life, for both me and the kids.

"It’s so much more relaxed, they can do their sessions and I get on with my stuff.

"The weekday evenings don’t feel as intense anymore, it’s great."

Justine feels that the Cluey system itself has been a game-changer because of its flexibility, enhanced capabilities and because she’s no longer limited to the smaller pool of tutors in her local area.

"Because the sessions are online, they can be recorded – so the kids can re-watch them," she shares.

"They’ve worked hard to find the right fit for each kid, too, and that means a lot, because the most important thing is that the kids enjoy it – they want to do it.

"Hallie is also part of a group session with Cluey; she knows everyone in the little group, and really looks forward to it.

"The group sessions are a little cheaper, too."

Which raises the point; how does Justine budget for online tutoring?

"To me, you can’t put a price on kids’ happiness," she tells us. "For example, Joel had lost confidence in himself at school before Cluey; he’s now very positive, he knows he has come a long way and how to get help when he needs it. We budget for it because it’s so worth it."

Justine says she also loves that Cluey gives her regular feedback reports, so she can see her children’s progress and evaluate their ongoing needs.

But more than anything, it’s the freedom that Justine enjoys the most.

"Doing this online, it’s given us flexibility that we didn’t have running around everywhere for tutors," she says. "It’s one of the best choices we’ve made for everyone."