Teaching for ALL children who need it

Dear friends, we have been stuck in the bones of the pandemic for more than two years – and so have our children. Many months of homeschooling and alternating classes have revealed gaps that many children now feel are painful. The problem: These gaps are frustrating, and some children quickly lose heart and then their desire to go to school. And another problem: if children from economically strong families could then close these gaps with private education, it is not possible for children from economically weak families. A terrible injustice, we think – like Frederik and Julia. They are the founders of cleverly. This is a guidance portal that thinks holistically. This means that children are supported not only professionally but also mentally. And: Cleverly can also be used with an education and participation document (BuT), which means that this offer is intended especially for children from financially weak families. One big thing, we present you smartly here in detail:

Dear friends, wisely will you revolutionize the guidance as a parent couple, how did you come up with what was still lacking in the market in relation to student support?

When Julia and I – like so many parents – suddenly found ourselves in the homeschooling frenzy at the beginning of the pandemic, we were really shocked at how outdated the subject of learning is sometimes still tackled. For many providers, it was and still is all about improving the grades. But is that really what matters? No, in our opinion it’s about more! We lacked a holistic approach to learning. So: individual support that does not only focus on technical expertise. As a father, but also as an entrepreneur, I had the impression that the education system had largely not changed in the last 20 years. And we wanted to change that – not just for our own daughters, but for all the children.

Because you are not only concerned with better grades for the kids, you combine classic online tutoring with a mentor concept. What exactly does that mean?

Mentoring deals with topics that are often neglected in everyday school life. Topics that I would like to summarize under the term “personality development”. It’s about learning for life! Our mentoring focuses on areas such as “learning to learn”, motivation, concentration, exam anxiety or clarifying the urgent question “What do I want to be?”.

In the sessions, our mentors not only equip the children with concrete take-aways for their everyday learning, but also with very individual support. In addition to a learning type analysis – which I believe is essential for optimal learning – the mentors approach the topics depending on their educational background and additional qualifications.

Your guidance offer can also be used with an education and participation document (BuT). Tell us!

Education and participation (BuT) must enable needs-based, nationwide access to education for children and young people. And thus, of course, also the development of potential – because that is exactly what education requires. That is precisely why I am of the opinion that the education offer in Germany needs the same status as the energy supply! Everyone is currently talking about gas, water and electricity supply. But education is also existential, and the issue of educational equality should therefore be much, much more in the eyes of the public. We are all the more happy that we can already now help the first families with a smart provider. But – and this is also part of the truth – this involves a disproportionate amount of bureaucracy.

What do you mean specifically by that?

For example, it is decided at district level whether an application from a family is approved or not. And that means for more than 400 districts and districts in Germany: Our offer must be approved for each and every one of them. The course is extended unnecessarily – even if children and young people need quick and uncomplicated help. It needs to be changed so that help can really get to where it is needed!

Your mentors are all trained educators. They provide support not only in the subject but also in the organization so that they also learn how to learn. What’s the point?

It is a triad of confidence, sensitivity and know-how. In many families, the first aha moment comes during mentoring during the “learning type analysis”. Suddenly, parents understand what their child really needs to learn at all be able to. And as soon as how is changed, the services change too. So if you ask me what’s important, then I can only say: when it comes to learning, it should never be just about what, but above all the enthusiasm for learning in itself.

How are the right mentors selected for the children?

Our mentors are all trained educators, some have worked as teachers and have impressive additional qualifications – for example in body therapy. In short: The selection of mentors is complex and a multi-stage process.

How can I tell if my child is really improving?

The experience of our talented mentors, but also the feedback from the families, shows this clearly: In addition to improving the school grades, a child’s “overall appearance” also changes as soon as they can develop their full potential and celebrate success in school. It approaches the subject of learning with more ease and confidence. We have families who say that their children suddenly talk more at dinner – of all children who have previously only spoken “Good!” were heard when asked about the school day. That’s what moves us as a team! Stress and pressure fall not only from the students but also from the parents. Whole families breathe a sigh of relief and are grateful for the support. It’s stories like this that show us how important it is that smart is about so much more than good grades.

And what if something comes up? You can plan many things individually, right?

As parents, we know that families need one thing above all else: flexibility. There are many things that simply can not be planned with children – whether they go to primary school or last year. That is why it was important for us from the beginning to be needs-based and suitable for everyday use in the family. Our packages can therefore also be paused and hours transferred to siblings.

And: Our guide is completely site independent. Having to drive my daughters through half of Berlin for tuition would have nothing to do with sustainability or fitness for everyday use. It is all the more important to make online tutoring a qualitatively equivalent alternative. And we are wise.

Based on your experience: What do you think helps the children the most to be motivated to go to school again?

I believe it is important not to start with just going to school. With smart, we want to support all young people in developing three competencies: firstly, they need to find out what they really want, secondly, they need to trust what they can, and thirdly, they need to learn what they want. need to do what really satisfies them. Because it is the only way to create the space that motivation needs – and that makes learning for life possible in the first place. Encouraging children with their thoughts and talents and taking them seriously is ultimately what matters. And in a lifetime …


Catherine Nachtsheim

Katharina Nachtsheim has worked as a journalist for 15 years, focusing on family and social issues. She has three children and lives in Berlin.

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