Keeping Students Focused with Homeschooling

Online learning and homeschooling are our new normal, which is why it’s essential to ensure that students have all the tools and resources they need to thrive in a remote learning environment.

As it stands right now, primary students and their parents are choosing between in-class and online learning. Prep Academy Tutors offers online tutoring services and small group tutoring to help students adjust to this new normal.

The reality is that parents are at different comfort levels when it comes to sending their students back to school, and more are turning to learning pods and other homeschooling alternatives to help continue their child’s educational journey.


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Addressing the Question of Distractions

Distractions are not exclusive to home learning, as students can get distracted both in-class and at-home. Distractions are everywhere, which is why we provide personalized tutoring services. Our tutors teach students in a way that they will understand and provide them with the tools they need to set and reach their academic goals.

It’s a common misconception that homeschooling or online learning is ineffective due to home distractions. The reality is that all students learn differently, and many can thrive learning in a more flexible, remote environment.


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Common Distractions

While there are distractions everywhere, the home does pose some unique distractions for students. The good news is that, with the help of parents, teachers, and tutors, students can learn to focus and stay on task despite these environmental factors.

Some of the common distraction’s students experience learning from home include:

electronics icon Electronics: Students have more access to technology when learning at home. It’s important to monitor access to technology and set boundaries.

people icon People: Having everyone at home —parents, grandparents, and siblings alike — can distract students who want to spend time with their family or find it hard to focus when others are around.

procrastination icon Procrastination: When students procrastinate, even leaving a room to get a glass of water can be a distraction. When procrastinating, students will use everything as a reason not to tackle the task at hand

noise icon Noise: While some students may learn well with background noise, others can get distracted by noise from the television, room chatter, or general bustling. Consider the ways you can accommodate for the noise level that your student requires to be productive. 


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Limiting Your Student’s Distractions

The good news is that long time homeschooled students, and remote workers alike, have learned how to best combat the common distractions experienced at home to maximize their productivity.

With the right tools, students can thrive by learning at home. A CCHE study revealed that homeschooled students score 15 to 30 percentile points higher than public school students on standardized academic achievement tests.


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Technology Limitations:

Technology is becoming essential to students’ everyday learning due to the new normal of online education. That said, being on the computer can cause a student’s attention to waver.

The good news is that there are a few ways you can limit this distraction. Depending on how your student learns best, you can either block certain websites for specific periods or allot break times so that your child can look forward to 10 to 15 minutes of free time on the internet at certain hours.

It is up to you how you limit your child’s internet usage. There is no one-size-fits-all approach, so work with your child to identify the most effective solution for them.

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Setting Break Times:

According to Edutopia, breaks can help to improve your child’s focus. A 2016 study revealed that while young students struggled to stay on task, shorter lessons kept their attention high. Ultimately, students can focus better during shorter pieces of time offset by breaks.

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Establish Set Working Hours:

A lack of structure can be distracting and make it hard for students to focus on a task. Allotting specific hours to work can help students better focus, as they will know to dedicate the time to schoolwork.

Setting this schedule can also help other family members to better plan their routines.

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Establish a Workplace Set-Up:

One of the best ways to prepare your student for online learning and uninterrupted homeschooling is to ensure they have everything they need at their desk.

Consistently leaving a work area to find resources like textbooks, calculators, or water, can be distracting and hard for students to sit and dive into their work. Establish a workstation away from common areas with all the resources your student needs to work and be productive.

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Private Tutoring:

The adjustment to what education and learning are looking like in our new normal can be daunting and, in many ways, distracting for students.

Working with a private tutor like Prep Academy Tutors can help provide your student with the resources they need to fill in any gaps in their knowledge, form good habits for learning at home, and help them better adjust.

We offer flexible and personalized tutoring that caters to the needs of your student. We like to act as a smart friend who can relate with your student and explain things in a way they will understand.


Prep Academy Tutors Private Tutoring Services

Prep Academy Tutors is your source for professional private tutoring services across Canada. We know that the transition to remote learning is challenging for students, which is why we offer personalized tutoring services to ensure that every student is getting the tools and resources they need to succeed academically and maintain confidence in their abilities.

Remote learning offers ample flexibility. Our tutors work with your schedule to ensure that your student is getting the educational support they need when they need it — including tools to adapt to our new normal.

We accommodate your needs and can provide either online tutoring or small group tutoring based on your schedule. Consider how private tutoring can help your student succeed in a remote online learning or homeschooling environment.

Get in touch with Prep Academy Tutors today to get paired with any of our experienced tutors. Our tutors are certified teachers and subject matter specialists who teach based on the current curriculum.


The Future of Homeschooling in The New Normal

The new normal for education is reduced class times, online learning, and small group learning. This has made learning pods, blended learning, and homeschooling increasingly prevalent and likely a long-term solution.

Now, students and parents have the task of choosing between in-class and at-home learning. As a result, more are opting to select homeschool or e-learning as their primary source of education for the foreseeable future.

At Prep Academy Tutors, we provide both small group and online tutoring services to help support students on their educational journey and help them maintain momentum.

As many opt for remote learning, they are making the necessary accommodations for their students to continue with this style of education for what may be the foreseeable future. As we see a general push towards this type of learning, it’s essential to consider how this shift can impact the future of education.

From an Alternative Solution to a Primary Education Source

For a long time, homeschooling was an alternative option for students who thrived in a more personalized setting. Now, as our new normal encourages more at-home learning, a higher volume of students and parents see the value of remote online education and homeschooling.

The reality is that current circumstances have changed the educational journey of nearly 1 billion children. Now is the opportunity for students and their parents to identify the best learning atmosphere.

Homeschooling has gone from an alternative educational route to a more mainstream option that is beneficial and safer and more feasible right now. As educational institutions continue to adapt as data changes, and the government and school boards announce updates, homeschooling is a consistent solution that can help keep students on track.

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More Technology in the Classroom

Many have long been skeptical of the role of technology in the classroom, specifically cell phones. Now, however, schools and teachers see how students and parents can use technology to eliminate distractions and facilitate a more flexible, personalized learning experience for students.

The World Economic Forum projects that the changes teachers have made to accommodate more virtual, and remote learning will likely result in technology playing a more substantial role in education in years to come.

The shift to e-learning has been an adjustment and learning curve for teachers, but school closures and the summer break have allowed teachers to acclimatize to this teaching style. Time to plan and accommodate has helped teachers to facilitate online lesson plans and, as a result, see the benefits that this style of learning presents.

Schools around the world are making adjustments to integrate technology into education better. For example, while the UK is facilitating at-home gym class through Joe Wicks, Japan is offering free online courses, and France has established a “Ma classe à la maison” (my classroom at home), which students can access on a laptop or smartphone.

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The Importance of Access to Technology

As the education system continues to recognize the importance of online learning and the ability to provide this alternative style of education, it also understands how important it is for students to have access to technology.

Inclusive education has become a hot topic as more and more are addressing how some students reap the benefits of having access to necessary technology while other students may not.

Peter Joshua, the Peel District School Board’s director of education, told CTV News that the board has been focusing on providing online resources and activities that require kids to have access to technology. He said that the board has about 157, 000 students and received over 20,000 requests for computers.

Governments and school boards are looking to address this disparity by providing students with the necessary technology like computers to facilitate their online learning. Additionally, companies with resources are also contributing assets to help facilitate this more inclusive learning.

For example, Ontario is distributing free iPads to kids who cannot access the province’s online learning tools, and Mississauga-based company Venture X donated 1,000 Chromebooks to the Peel District School Board for students who required access to technology.


A Consistent, Long-Term Solution

Regulations are changing both within and outside education, and it’s hard to know what state the world will be in in the next few months. As a result, parents are looking for a solution that provides consistency and flexibility for their child’s education.

Taking kids in and out of school can be detrimental to their mental health, and maintaining homeschooling measures is a consistent solution for the time being for parents who are sceptical about sending their kids back to school. With the possibility of future school closures and changes in numbers, this is a way to help students maintain a set schedule and a safe learning atmosphere.

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The Importance of Personalized Support

With online learning and homeschooling becoming a new normal for a vast majority of students, students and parents alike are both adjusting to a new routine.

Prep Academy Tutors is providing online tutoring and small group tutoring to help facilitate support at this time when students may be struggling to adjust to remote learning and maintain academic confidence.

Our tutors are certified teachers and subject matter experts who provide curriculum-based education to help support your child in their educational journey and help them reach academic success and confidence.

Now is a confusing time for many students. Our experienced tutors can provide a personalized approach to education to help support them by acting as a “smart friend” who can explain things in a way that they can understand. Contact us to get paired with a tutor today.

What Parents Need to Know About Learning Pods

The school year is fast approaching, and teachers and parents alike have some important decisions to make about what education and learning will look like for their students this year.

While high school students can expect a balance of blended learning in the new school year — a mixture of both in class and at home education — primary and junior students under grade 8 are being asked to choose between in person or online learning .

With students all having different learning styles and parents having differing comfort levels with sending kids back to school, many are opting for alternative education through learning pods at this time.

Learning pods — which some refer to as pandemic pods — refer to small groups of students learning in a controlled environment. With the future of education changing rapidly, parents are opting to establish learning pods to ensure consistent learning. More often than not, these pods get facilitated through small-group tutoring, as parents and private tutors like Prep Academy Tutors are working together to create a safe, contained, and consistent learning environment.

At Prep Academy Tutors, we offer both online tutoring services and small group tutoring services to meet the varying needs and educational preferences of parents and students across Canada, and in areas of the US.

Image of children in a classroom setting with a teacher at a desk helping a student to illustrate learning pods.

What Are Learning Pods?

CNBC describes learning pods as “small, in-person groups of students learning together with the help of an in-person tutor or teacher.”

This education and learning method is the growing preference of parents looking to opt for remote learning in the coming year. Learning pods help maintain flexibility, safety, socialization, and a sense of normalcy in a more controlled environment, all while still having a professional educator’s leadership.

When you opt for Prep Academy Tutors’ group tutoring services, you can have peace of mind knowing that our tutors are certified teachers and subject area experts.

Where Are They Happening?

Learning pods are happening all over the world as parents, teachers, and school boards worldwide are making changes to adapt to a new learning situation.

The History of Learning Pods

While learning pods have risen in popularity in response to our new normal, the concept of small group learning is not new. In 2019, Maureen O’Shaughnessy, Ed.D., published a book about this learning style titled Creating Micro-Schools for Colorful Mismatched Kids. O’Shaughnessy is a founder of the Micro-School Coalition, and states that micro-schools and learning pods should “reflect the values of the community that they serve.”

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The Benefits of Learning Pods


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Flexible with Virtual Learning

If you are opting to continue with virtual learning this year, you can establish learning pods with select students at the times that work best for you. The flexibility and consistency can help you enforce a schedule and routine for your child to maintain the upward trajectory of their education.

Learning pods also present the opportunity for children to socialize, which they may not get when learning remotely. In learning pods, the ratios are also smaller, which allows teachers to provide more personalized education.

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Group Selection

Parents are coming together to encourage their students to continue learning with others who can help support their educational journey. After selecting a small group of students, they hire private tutors to lead these pods. Prep Academy Tutors offers small group tutoring to bring small groups of students together to guide their education and encourage them to learn from one another.

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Smaller Ratios

The trend of overwhelming class sizes often leaves teachers overwhelmed, and students without access to personalized education. Learning pods allow teachers to work closely with a much smaller group of students and cater to their learning styles.

Prep Academy Tutors maintains the educational philosophy that every student learns differently and is capable of learning. This is why our tutors approach education with a personalized approach and create small groups to ensure students get the level of education they need to reach confidence and academic success.

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Safer Setting

In this new normal, we are looking to minimize our exposure to others. Learning pods with the same small group of individuals allows students to build a bubble to maintain education and safety and socialization for a sense of normalcy.

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There are various ways that the new normal has impacted the mental health of our students. Not having that support, encouragement, socialization, and relatability can be challenging, especially for students who thrive from collaborative learning.  By creating a learning pod and engaging in small group tutoring, you can help your child connect with other students in a safe and comfortable environment for all.

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Sense of Normalcy

In many ways, learning pods signify what our new standard will be for the considerable future. This learning style allows us to facilitate routine and socialization at a smaller scale to help students slowly regain a sense of normalcy.

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Pods offer flexibility as they may accommodate for different ages, levels of learning, and schedules. This flexibility also makes the small group tutoring ideal for both parents with kids at home learning virtually, and parents with kids returning to the classroom.

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The location of learning pods and group tutoring can be flexible based on the needs of the group. They can be held indoors, in backyards, parks, etc. It depends on the convenience and preference of the parents involved.

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Prep Academy Tutors Small Group Learning

Prep Academy Tutors offer small group tutoring for groups of 3-5 kids at a time. These groups can facilitate the collaborative learning of siblings, friends, and students with similar needs. We work with you to establish a group that suits your needs and will match you with the perfect tutor to lead the group.

You can have peace of mind knowing that, when you opt for private group tutoring with Prep Academy Tutors, your child will receive an education based on the current curriculum. We provide curriculum-based learning to ensure your child is learning based on existing standards, and so that we can help fill any gaps in their knowledge with personalized explanation and guidance.

We are committed to the health and safety of your child and work with you to create an educational atmosphere that is sustainable and comfortable for all involved. Our tutors keep in contact with parents to discuss progress and accommodate changing needs.

How to Prepare Your Child for Blended Learning in New York

The State of education in New York — and around the world — is rapidly changing as a result of COVID-19. Currently, the State of New York is looking to reopen some schools for blended learning in the new school year.

Prep Academy Tutors of Westchester is prepared to provide private tutoring to help students adapt to the blended learning that they can likely expect in the school year to come.

Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced that schools will only reopen in regions that are in phase 4 and maintain a daily infection rate of under 5 percent.

Due to fluctuating numbers, the government will make the official decision to (or not to) reopen schools in August. The government has also said it will react quickly and ask students to return home and engage in virtual learning if numbers in regions rise.

As we prepare students and teachers to return to school potentially, it is essential to provide students with the tools they need to adapt and find success with blended learning.

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What is Blended Learning? 

Blended learning refers to educating through both traditional in-class and e-learning practices. Blended learning blends the flexibility of remote learning with face to face learning to provide a comprehensive education.

Blended learning will likely become students’ new standard for the considerable future and will require some accommodation and time management. This transition will be a significant learning curve for educators, students, and parents who are new to balancing online and in-class learning. 

The good news is that Prep Academy Tutors of Westchester is prepared to give students the tools they need to adjust to these changes and develop time management and study habits for academic success. 

Tips for Transitioning Your Child Into Blended Learning


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Talk About Hygiene

When schools reopen, it will be a requirement for students to social distance on campus. Schools will reconfigure community spaces like gyms and atriums to make this feasible. It is essential to emphasize the importance of social distancing at school (and in general) and to educate your child on how to maintain hygienic safety in the classroom.

The New York State Education Department presented a framework of guidelines to the Board of Regents that schools will need to maintain to sustain operation after reopening. These guidelines include consistent hygienic practices that will be enforced and expected from staff and students, including social distancing, wearing masks, regular handwashing, and disinfecting common areas.

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Consider One-On-One Tutoring

Every student learns differently, which means that students will respond to blended learning in various ways. Depending on an individual’s learning style, this style of learning may elevate a student’s learning abilities or create gaps in their knowledge.

One-on-one tutoring can provide students with the additional tools and resources they may need to accommodate this transition.

At Prep Academy Tutors of Westchester, our private tutors provide a personalized approach to education to fill any gaps in knowledge. We give students the tools they need to gain academic confidence.

We believe that every child is capable of learning and requires a personalized approach to education to set and reach their academic goals. Consider how your child can benefit from private tutoring at this time.

We can provide one-on-one, small group, and micro-classroom tutoring services across Westchester County either at your home, in your backyard, or a safe public space of your choice. Note that our micro-classroom students contain a maximum of 5-7 students.


Streamline Communication with Educators

Blended learning will be a new experience for students, educators, and parents alike, which is why it’s essential to keep all communication lines open. Discuss with your child and their educators (both teachers and tutors) to monitor their progress and identify the tools they may need for further success. 

Prep Academy Tutors prioritizes communication to ensure that everyone is always on the same page and involved in a student’s educational journey.

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Check In

It’s essential to understand how significant changes in education and life can impact a student’s mental health. How is your child coping with these changes? What do they find to be the most challenging about the transition? Talk to your child to understand where they are at; encourage dialogue to address different pain points as they come.

Encourage Classmate Discussions

Encourage Classmate Discussions

No one will understand quite what students are experiencing right now more than their peers. Students all learn differently, but they can also learn from one another and their shared experiences. Consider encouraging your child to talk to their classmates so that they can form feasible strategies and find success at this time of transition.

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Manage Online Distractions

Technology plays an essential role in blended learning. It is crucial to help your student manage any online distractions that may occur when e-learning.

Consider how you can help your child stay on task when learning on their device, even when entertainment sources are just a click away. 

You can reward your child for staying on task with free computer time, or integrate other incentives that will motivate them not to let their attention wander. You can also challenge them to focus for specific periods and allow breaks in between tasks. It all depends on how your child learns best.

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Stay Informed

Stay informed not only on your child’s academic journey but also on the overall state of education in New York. 

Considering that circumstances are changing quickly in the state due to the fluctuating cases of COVID-19, it’s essential to utilize the news and school newsletters to stay in the know. Staying informed will help you better plan ahead and discuss future changes with your child before they occur.

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Prepare to Pivot

It will be confirmed in August whether or not schools will reopen in New York come September. Governor Cuomo has stated that if numbers and conditions change between when announcement and the first day of school, schools will not reopen.

He has also stated that schools will close again if numbers change. It is essential to be aware of the fluctuating circumstances that impact this situation and have the tools and resources to pivot quickly.

Prep Academy Tutors of Westchester will continue to offer online tutoring and other tutoring services to help students continue education as these changes occur and help minimize the gaps in knowledge they may experience.



SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: Prep Academy Tutors is Open for Business in New York

Prep Academy Tutors is proud to announce that we have teamed up with partners Vanessa O’Friel and Sarah Loader to offer in-home and online tutoring in Westchester County and across New York. 

The new franchise of Prep Academy Tutors is based in Bronxville, New York. We support children and families in Manhattan and across Westchester County, including Bronxville, Tuckahoe, Eastchester, Pelham, Scarsdale, White Plains, Larchmont and Rye. 

Our Westchester County franchisees are passionate about education and boast ample experience with the New York curriculum. At Prep Academy Tutors, we provide students with the personalized education they need to succeed. Prep Academy Tutors of Westchester marks our first ever American franchise.

Who We Are: Prep Academy Tutors of Westchester 

Prep Academy Tutors is a private in-home and online tutoring company that boasts a team of elite tutors dedicated to fostering your child’s best academic self. We provide one-on-one tutoring and both small group and micro-classroom tutoring to support students and families during these challenging times. 

We tailor all our services to provide safe social-distancing and compliance with State and CDC regulations. We support our students in both remediation and enhancement and support traditional or alternative curricula.  

Meet the Owners: Vanessa O’Friel & Sarah Loader


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Vanessa O’Friel

Vanessa began her career in education as an assistant teacher at the
Buckley School in New York City, where she grew up. Vanessa joined the
science department at Buckley, where she taught environmental science
in the elementary school and health science to middle school students.

After teaching for many years at Buckley, Vanessa transitioned to the
Collegiate School, where she taught 9th-grade biology. Vanessa
currently works part-time in admissions at the Rye Country Day School.
She resides in Bronxville with her husband and four children. She has
children in all three school divisions and is very familiar with the
school curriculum, core curriculum, and faculty.


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Sarah Loader

Sarah is a long-term Prep Academy Tutors client turned franchisee. She is excited to launch in the US. Sarah is a trained lawyer and brings a strong work ethic and solid entrepreneurial background to her business.

She has excellent interpersonal, client service and communication skills. Sarah was born in Toronto, Canada and currently lives with her husband and 3 children in Bronxville, NY.


Meet Our Westchester Tutors

Prep Academy Tutors of Westchester are excited to grow our roster to provide compassionate and personalized tutoring services in New York. We’re looking for tutors who boast the experience and skills necessary to provide the level of education that Prep Academy Tutors is known for.


Maci Gumbs

Maci Gumbs

Specializes In: English, Geography, History, Math, Science & Social Studies for Grades K-6

About Maci: Maci graduated from Concordia College with a bachelor’s degree in childhood education and a master’s degree in special education While studying at Concordia, she spent time living and teaching in Chennai, India. Maci is currently completing her NY teacher certifications while teaching third grade.

Learn more about Maci


Nancy Gill

Nancy Gill

Specializes In: English & Special Education for Grade K-8

About Nancy: Nancy has 12 years of experience being a special education teacher and family advocate. She has both a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in special education. Nancy is currently working towards a master’s degree in education: learning and technology.

Learn more about Nancy


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Maureen Darcy

Specializes In: Languages (English, French, Spanish) for Grades 1- 8

About Maureen: Maureen was born and raised in Southern California before she moved to New York to study at New York University. Here, she majored in French and Linguistics with a minor in Arabic.

Maureen boasts a master’s degree in Teaching English as a Second Language, which she earned from Columbia University’s teacher’s college. Currently, she lives in Brooklyn, New York, where she is a French and Spanish teacher at the Professional Children’s School.

Learn more about Nancy


What to Expect from Prep Academy Tutors of Westchester:


Support: We support parents and families who work from home and the growing community of families moving from Manhattan to Westchester. We work to help bridge the gap between school curricula.

Curriculum-Based Educational Support: We use a growing online platform to provide curriculum-based educational support.

A Commitment to Academic Excellence:: We are committed to academic excellence and work to ensure our students stay at and above grade level, especially during remote-learning or transition periods.

Services: We provide one-on-one, small group, and micro-classroom tutoring online, at your home, in your backyard, or a safe public space.

Targeted Tutoring: We target executive functioning skills to help students during remote learning when they are outside of supervised classrooms and resource rooms.

Communication: We prioritize communication between tutors and families.


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Work with Prep Academy Tutors of Westchester

To work with Prep Academy Tutors, you can call us at 914.303.7661 or email us at or We will get back to you shortly.