LA parents create group learning environment, look to hire at-home teachers to help with distance learning

Parents from a San Fernando Valley neighborhood are hoping to hire a home-based teacher for their small group of first graders.
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Many school districts have made the decision to offer only remote learning when the fall semester begins. And now that parents know it's coming, many of them are looking for ways to better support their child, including hiring their own teacher.

"It's a little overwhelming, especially when you're trying to hold down a full time job," said Emily Rickard, a working parent of a 6-year-old.

Rickard, a global executive producer, has been working from home since the pandemic hit Los Angeles. She takes COVID-19 seriously and thinks LAUSD made the right decision to keep students home this August. But this time around she wants to avoid having to juggle child care and work.

"Online learning was challenging when my daughter was still in the school year," said Rickard.

It's why she and a few other parents in her San Fernando Valley neighborhood are hoping to hire a home-based teacher for their small group of first graders.

"We're probably leaning toward doing a pod of around six kids, maximum, where you'd travel from home to home for a couple of weeks at a time," said Rickard. "We're still figuring it out and I just started the search for a teacher or tutor."

Emily Oster, an economics professor at Brown University and parenting author, says family supervised online learning worked for many in the short term of the pandemic, but as it drags on, she has advice if you decide to create a group learning environment in your home.

"There are a few things I would consider. One is from a public health stand point. It would be ideal if the kids you were podding with were pretty consistent. I know in L.A. you're not in school at all, but in some school districts there will be two days a week in school," said Oster. "If that's true, it would be ideal for the pod to be kids who are together during the school day and together afterwards. And then I think the question is what kind of person do you find? This is very hard because you need somebody who is kind of able to supervise school but ideally is not too expensive and I think this is a place where maybe even the college students on a gap year could be a good source of employment there."

But not every family can afford to hire extra help and that's where the "Child Care is Essential Act" comes into play. The proposed legislation, going before Congress next week, would expand the existing California Alternative payment program that already gives families about $1 billion in after school care vouchers.

"The proposal that some of us are talking about in policy circles is to expand that billion dollar program to reach many more parents who can take that voucher and reimburse an after school child care provider. You can also reimburse a college student to provide child care and tutoring support," said Bruce Fuller, UC Berkeley Professor of Education and Public Policy.

With the school year around the corner, parents are feeling the pressure to act quickly.

"I would just say get on it soon like we are because time is running out," said Rickard.
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