The school year has ended, but Learning Lodge, an online tutoring service founded by Washington University in St. Louis students, continues to help local elementary and middle school students practice math, social studies, even the bassoon.
“Parents still want to keep their kids engaged, and students enjoy interacting with their tutors,” said co-founder Lily Xu. “Even after the semester ended, our tutors still are committed to volunteering over the summer. As long as there is a need, we’ll be there.”
Xu and Alex Hu launched Learning Lodge in the early days of the COVID-19 crisis. Both Campus Y volunteers, the seniors had time to spare, as did many of their friends.
“We were hearing, ‘I’m running out of Netflix shows. What can I do that’s helpful?’” said Hu, who graduated in May with a degree in biochemistry from Arts & Sciences. “Because so many WashU students have tutoring experience and deep expertise in a range of subjects, we knew that virtual tutoring was a need we could meet. We were even able to help a family who wanted bassoon tutoring.”
Today, 168 volunteers are providing free tutoring to students in math, science, social studies, English and foreign language. Learning Lodge has started to accept volunteer sign-ups from students outside of Washington University and is exploring partnering in the fall with one of many existing campus groups that provide tutoring. Xu said the best tutors aren’t necessarily early-education experts, but enthusiastic listeners.
“I worked with a student who just finished kindergarten, and for him, the main thing was to see a new face, to see someone who was really paying attention to him as he added his numbers,” said Xu, who graduated last month with a degree in biomedical engineering from the McKelvey School of Engineering. “I tell tutors that it’s not about creating math whizzes but instead interacting in a way that’s fun and meaningful for both of you.”
Learning Lodge is one way that Washington University faculty, students and staff are improving K-12 education in St. Louis. To learn more, visit The Pipeline.