By Jigar Desai
The spread of Covid-19 and the ongoing pandemic has halted the economy, with many industries suffering great losses. Small businesses have been forced to close their doors permanently. Many of these businesses relied on past business operation methods prior to the pandemic and could not adapt to market as it is now. These businesses suffered due to the lack of consumers available, due to people cutting back on their spending during uncertain times. However, during any financial situation, there will be a few industries that are experiencing popularity and growth. An entrepreneur, who is willing to work and create a business in these markets, can find success. An example of a business that is experiencing success during the pandemic is children’s online education services. Children’s online educational services is an industry that was experiencing an increase even before COVID-19, reaching $18.6 billion in 2019. This demand has only increased since then.
What are children’s online education services?
Children have been forced to stay indoors without many options for education or entertainment. Most children would not have school, as it is the summer, but would normally be attending some form of summer classes or summer camps. Unfortunately, these opportunities are not available right now so they are looking towards their parents for entertainment and education. Many parents are working from home during the pandemic or at work, so they are too busy to watch their children constantly throughout the day.
This is leaving a void in the children’s education market which can be met by someone with a knowledge of basic technology. Most children have had to switch to online classes during the spring so they are familiar with the technology and how this medium of online learning works. There is an opportunity for a business which hosts educational courses online for children during the summer. According to WeForum, there are over 1.2 billion children suffering from school closures globally. Parents will gladly pay for online courses to distract their children for a few hours a day while they learn something.
First, a business owner in this field will need to find a way to connect to the children and teach them. This should be done through live video. Children often learn the best through in-person hands-on learning; conducting live classes online is the second-best option. Students can watch and learn from the teacher live, which will help them from feeling distracted. Live classes give the students the feeling that the teacher is speaking directly to them, making them more inclined to learn the material being taught to them.
There are many video chatting services available. The platform that is currently most popular is Zoom. Zoom was used by many school districts when classes switched over from in-person to online so parents and students are most comfortable on this platform. Zoom has a free option and a pay-for-use option. The free option allows for unlimited meetings but has a time limit of 40 minutes and a participant cap of three. The free option would not be ideal for the actual class because the lessons should be longer than 40 minutes and should have at least five students attending. However, the free option would be great as a test run for those who are looking into this business and would like to do a test run. The upgraded option costs $15 a month or $150 annually. This will allow the instructor to set up a meeting time and duration, and send the invite to the children’s parents via email.
Zoom offers many options that allow the instructor to be able to teach the class efficiently. Students do not have to pay to download Zoom and can enter the class through the link. They do not even have to download the application as they can run it from a web browser. This allows parents to set up the class from a computer, iPad or even a phone. The instructor will get a full view of the class as they can see each student’s webcam, and this brings an experience that is akin to an in-person classroom. The instructor will also be able to share their screen if they want to show something from their computer. For example, if the instructor wanted to show the class a video from their computer, they could share their screen. Zoom has a chat function where individuals can message each other privately or to the whole class. This creates a channel of communication from an instructor to their class. Students who are shy will also have the opportunity to ask questions and get more out of the class.
Zoom also allows the host to be able to record the session and upload them. Students who are not able to attend a session will be able to watch later. This allows parents to watch their child’s progress as well. Zoom is not a direct teaching platform so participants in the sessions do not pay for the class through Zoom, so an instructor will have to manage how the payments are made outside of the platform. For those who are not willing to use Zoom, Google Hangout is another popular alternative that parents are familiar with.
Student’s education levels and entertainment interest vary greatly between ages. A child who is eight years old will not have the same interest and academic goals as one who is eleven. An instructor must tailor their curriculum based off the demographic that they are targeting. This is based off of what the instructor is familiar teaching. For the most part, the subject matter taught to these students do not require a specific degree or training and can be done by anyone. However, for example, if an instructor has not done work in life sciences since they were younger, they should either relearn the material or not teach it altogether. Subjects that are universally taught are an easy option to teach, as most students will take a course in these subjects when they go back to school. These subjects are math, sciences, history and English. If the instructor has particular knowledge in a specific subject, it could draw more interest from parents as they would pay for their children to learn a niche subject. An example of a subject that is not taught everywhere but has a demand for teaching is Spanish; teaching the children foreign languages would be beneficial.
Not only are parents interested in entertaining their children while they work, they are also looking for an opportunity for their child to get a leg up on next year’s course work. Parents will gladly pay for their extra schooling that will help them in the future. It would be ideal for the instructor to have knowledge of the children’s curriculum to meet their learning goals. Each state has different standards based off of the child’s grade. Core Standards provides the standards per subject for each state. An instructor can find examples of lesson plans based off of grades and subjects here. This allows for a tutoring like service, where the instructor can track the students’ progress and correct any mistakes. It is not vital to give homework or any after course assignments, as many students are on summer break and may not be interested in extra work. However, the course can allow for in-class assignments that help gauge the student’s retention and progress, while letting the instructor know the effectiveness of their teachings. NurturingWisdom provides some examples of assignments that the instructor can provide.
Instructors who plan to teach to various age groups of students can host different meetings for each age group. While it is not pertinent to have students of the same grade, having them within a few years of each other is desirable. The instructor should also provide an entertaining aspect to the lesson. After all, this is the child’s summer and the last thing a child wants to do in the summer is go through pages of PowerPoints. For example, adding activities such as arts and crafts for younger students can be beneficial for their learning and can be fun. For older students, the instructor can show an interesting presentation or instructions on how to create a project using household objects. Instructors who are looking to deviate from the traditional learning standards are more than welcome to do so. However, an online educational service cannot deviate to provide a summer camp feel, due to the lack of activities that are possible to do remotely. Ideally, each class session should last about 1.5 to 2 hours. Anything further may be too long and tire out the students. The fee the business charges is up to them and they should decide on the knowledge they are providing to the students. Typically, a session of this nature would cost $20-$50 per student per session. These sessions can be lucrative once the class sizes increase and parents sign up for a whole summer. This business is also applicable once the summer ends, as additional practice for students. Due to COVID-19, it is unlikely that children will be engaging in many in-person extracurricular actives or tutoring services. This means an instructor can have a larger learning plan available for students that are attending during the school year.
Without the opportunity to market the business outdoors, the business owner should market the business online. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are the best avenues for advertisement as parents are also seeking summer options for their children. There are often Facebook groups made for advertisement in a particular city. These are great options as they have plenty of members. For example, cities often have an online Chamber of Commerce where local businesses can advertise their services. Since the classes will be online, the business owner can look further than their immediate surroundings for potential clients. The most effective business marketing is through the word of mouth. A business owner should look to their network and see if their peers are looking for online educational services or if someone they know needs these services. This is a business that will also increase as time goes on. The business’s starting class can easily increase as more students invite their friends in the future to learn with them. The best marketing tool is to put out a great-quality product that prospective parents can look at when deciding where to put their child for the summer.
During these uncertain times, children are suffering from the lack of summer options and education. Many children had their summer plans ruined due to COVID-19. At the time of this writing, many states are undecided whether they will open up schools. Providing online educational services will be a great way for parents to bolster their child’s education further. This has left an opportunity for someone to create a business that is not awfully demanding and does not require great technical skill. This is a great opportunity for someone to make an additional income while serving a greater good for the community. If a business owner takes the steps above, this type of business is fairly cheap to start and operate.
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