When it comes to distance learning, hybrid learning or any variation in between, there’s no sugar-coating it: kids can fall behind pretty fast. If your child has trouble grasping a subject or staying on top of their schoolwork, you’re not alone. Add to that a global pandemic, high anxiety, limited resources and it’s enough to make even the most organized school situation descend into chaos. What’s a parent to do? Enter Intutorly, a new non profit designed to help elementary-school kids stay on track. And what’s even cooler? It’s founded by two teen brothers, Alex and Ben Joel. Read on to get the scoop.

photo: Ben (L) and Alex (R) Joel/Intutorly 

When the COVID-19 pandemic forced schools online, Alex and Ben Joel were concerned by the articles they read about potential learning losses due to distance learning. So they did something about it. Their motto is simple: Bridging the educational divide with free, online, one-on-one tutoring for elementary school students. We caught up with the dynamic duo to find out more about their service, what inspired it, and how Intutorly is helping change the world, one kid at a time.

What inspired you to start this business?

We were dismayed to learn that the likely result [of schools closing] is a generation of students forced to play catch-up, perhaps for years to come. The idea that someone’s entire life, including future employment opportunities, could be derailed by a disrupted year of education, deeply troubled us. We wanted to do something positive to help those who felt left behind during so many months of distance learning.

It looks like a lot of your team are also young people, possibly high school students. Is this the case? 

Yes, our tutors are primarily high school students. Having faced their own challenges with distance learning, high school students are well positioned to understand and overcome the hurdles of learning remotely. And at a time of national crisis, high school students are highly motivated to help others in a safe manner that complies with social distancing guidelines. We have also found that the younger students look up to the older students as mentors and are eager to work hard for them.

photo: Shelby Willcox/Intutorly 

Can anyone be a tutor?

Many of our volunteers have tutoring experience, but not all. The most important qualities are enthusiasm for teaching, creativity, and flexibility.  Our tutors only meet with their students online, so tutors need to both understand their subject areas and demonstrate an ability to connect with their students remotely.

We provide a list of resources for teaching materials and hold weekly meetings with our tutors to exchange ideas, discuss highlights, and address challenges. In addition to managing the organization, the entire leadership team also serve as tutors so we appreciate the experience first-hand. While our tutors are not financially compensated, they gain important opportunities to learn through the responsibility of teaching others.

How do you evaluate who gets the tutoring service? It says to apply and there is no cost.

Parents who are interested in free tutoring services for their elementary school child should visit our website and sign up here. We provide cost-free tutoring to everyone – no questions asked. We recognize that these are uncertain times and many families have become economically vulnerable during the crisis.

Even if we don’t need the services, or can’t volunteer, how can we help you? 

If parents would like to make a donation to Intutorly, our website provides a donation page here. As we grow, we anticipate that the donations will help offset expenses associated with the administration of the organization to ensure that everyone seeking educational support gets matched with a tutor in a timely way.  Parents can also help us by spreading the word about Intutorly’s services in their communities.

photo: iStock

And the brothers aren’t stopping there. Currently, Intutorly is serving families in 20 states and four countries. While they began their tutoring focusing on basic subjects (reading, writing, math, science) they have identified areas for future expansion including foreign language skills as well as English as a Second Language, with an aim at helping immigrant families seeking to enhance their children’s English language skills. Additionally, because of the positive global response, they see areas of growth in learning about other cultures and how they approach education.

In other words, there’s no stopping what these brothers can do.

Learn more at intutorly.org 

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