Resources to help if your child needs academic support

By Jill L. Ferguson


Sometimes our children need academic help beyond what we are capable of providing, either because the math we learned wasn’t the new, new math  or because our patience levels may not match our child’s needs when it comes to explaining to get understanding. Neither of these are failures of parenting skills; wisdom comes in knowing when to call in the experts.



 The quickest and easiest place to find free online tutorials, online courses and practice problems that are walked through one video frame at a time is Khan Academy ( Founded in 2005, the non-profit Khan Academy was started by Sal, who holds three degrees from MIT and an MBA from Harvard, in an effort to help his younger cousins understand math and other subjects with which they were struggling. The nonprofit spiraled and grew from there, and today its videos teach children all over the world math and engineering, arts and humanities, science and computing, economics and finance and test preparation (think ACT, SAT, MCAT, GMAT, etc.). Math, in particular, is searchable by subject matter or by grade level so you’re bound to find the subject matter and level your child needs.

Other places offer online live tutoring, such as Chegg Tutors (, and Varsity Tutors ( for fees and the structure is not that dissimilar to taking your child to a physical location to meet a tutor except that he or she meets with the tutor from the comfort of your own home.

Private Tutoring Centers

 Tutoring centers can be found in almost every pocket of Pittsburgh and surrounding suburbs. The centers range from branches of national or international chains such as Kumon (located in Shaler Plaza) to private local places such as Axios Tutoring, founded by Manjri Gupta and located in the South Hills. Many physical-plant tutoring centers also offer online tutoring, too.

When choosing a tutoring center and a tutor, pay attention to the education and the training of the management and the tutors and the way they explain things to your child. Each place does things a little different and what may work best for one child may not for the another. A reputable tutoring center understands how to work with every kind of learner.

School District Tutoring Help

If you and your child are located within Pittsburgh Public Schools and you have a Carnegie Library card, Pittsburgh Public Schools has set up free homework help and tutoring daily from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. with Carnegie Library. (See more information.) Students can get live help with English, math, science and social studies by connecting with tutors and librarians.

Other school districts, like Fox Chapel for example, provide lists of recommended private tutors to help your child in foreign languages, in addition to the usual academic subjects. These lists include the tutor’s name, e-mail address, phone number and area of expertise.

If your child struggles in multiple subject areas, you may need a combination of these suggestions in order for your child to succeed or excel.