View Full Version : Thoughts on Sylvan Learning Center
10-29-2001, 08:59 PM
Does anyone have any experience with the Sylvan Learning Centers? My oldest son was held back in kindergarten and continues to struggle. He's in the third grade now, and we need to do something, but I don't know what.
10-29-2001, 09:05 PM
I don't have any personal experiences with Sylvan, except I know they're expensive.
Has your child been evaluated for learning disabilities or possible physical problems that keep him from learning (for example, hearing or sight problems)?
I'd check that before I sunk a load of money into tutoring.
10-30-2001, 02:23 AM
I worked for a tutoring company for a couple years full time, and the story on the street about Sylvan was, yes, all their teachers have credentials, but so what? You never had a bad credentialed teacher in school?
The other thing that made them really expensive was that they were charging what we were for putting kids in groups of 4+ instead of one-on-one.
My recommendation would be to find someone who's good with kids and can keep his attention and doesn't charge so much, or at least does it one-on-one. Probably the way to find out if he's just bored and not paying full attention is to link a real reward to his performance. If he's just goofing off, he'll start paying attention.
If you decide that he really does have an honest difficulty with the material, you might want to reward him somehow anyway. Otherwise he'll get really discouraged, and feel like just a failure.
10-31-2001, 09:12 AM
Thanks for your input Robyn and Dave. My poor kid has been tested in more ways than I can remember. They have found certain anomalies but nothing that would obviously contribute to his difficulties.
I'm really just bumping this thread in hopes of getting some feedback from someone who has direct experience with Sylvan or similar centers.
10-31-2001, 09:41 AM
Sorry, no direct experience. I looked into it for my boys, because their grades were really low. Were they low because the work was too hard? Nope, it was because they were prone to hide their homework, if it managed to come home at all, scribble off their schoolwork with no thought as fast as possible, etc. They wound up getting seriously behind and there was talk of holding them back a year.
I did look into Sylvan, but it really seemed too pricey for me. I wound up doing the tutoring myself, and the thought of being held back a year did scare them into doing some work. Contracts were signed with their teacher giving them a reward for bringing their agendas and homework home with them everyday, and completing assigments in a reasonable amount of time. It worked for us. In some cases, their grades went from an F to an A.
My advice is to take a look at what your child's problem areas are, and assess for yourself if there is anything you can do about it. Do some research, look into all of your options, talk to teachers, etc. Sylvan may be your best option, but it also may not be, and you'll want to know for sure before you start writing cheques.
10-31-2001, 10:59 PM
Lots of teaching and tutoring experience, and used to work for a place similar to Sylvan. I'm not going to tell you not to worry, bnorton, because I know when it's your kid it's tough not to. But let me give you some perspective.
A tutoring place certainly isn't going to hurt anything... but if you want to go that route, don't go to a center that will charge you a ton of money (and I know Sylvan charges a lot. ) Instead find a private tutor; there are scads of teachers out there who moonlight on the side (hell, ask the principal at your school... you'll probably be surprised to learn that there are teachers in your kid's building who tutor; also the two major school districts in my area actually publish a list of private tutors- do some calling around). You'll save about 1/2 the cost or more, and better know the person doing the one on one. Most of the people I worked with at the tutoring place were ok, but they were really of no better caliber than other tutors. If you do go the private tutor route, no more than twice a week, 1/2 hour per session. Don't expect miracles, but it may make a bit of a difference.
I have seen parents try and do remediation for their own children on their own (maybe you learned this the hard way), but most of the time this does not work, simply because children don't really relate well to their parents as "teachers". If you really feel like you want to personally do something at home, I would try this (and I have used this method with some success): go to the library once a week. Make it a fun family outing. Encourage him to pick out books (to read on his own). If he doesn't want to really participate at first, that's fine, but go anyway and drag him along. Check out some books yourself too. But in addition, read a little bit together every night after school or before bed (7 or 10 minutes -- longer as he starts to enjoy it); some predictable hour. I don't mean make HIM read; you ALWAYS read to him. Always. You pick out the book, always. Make them easy chapter books-- but pick out interesting ones you know he will like. Do this as a non-negotiable activity ; he can whine and complain, but do it anyway. If you choose books of interest to him, and you always do the reading (ie, no pressure whatsoever on him) he will come around. On his own time he can read the books he picks out at the library. This won't turn around his grades over night, but it will make a world of difference after, say, a year or so.
Before you even try these routes, though, read John Rosemond's Ending the Homework Hassle (or something like that). I don't know if homework per se is a problem or not, but it offers excellent perspective on parents just sort of stepping back and letting the kid (any age) take charge of his life. The methods don't guarantee better grades, but the one thing the book does is point out how harmful it is for parents to step in and solve problems that really don't need to be solved. It's a good read no matter what your son's difficulty might be. (Rosemond, incidentally, if I recall from his older columns, doesn't find it a terribly fretful thing if a child is held back a year at some point; my experience bears this out).
And a few final words about the big picture: take a deep breath and remember that a kid struggling in school can have lots of happy things going on in his life, and this doesn't have to ruin his childhood. It sounds really trite, but one of the most important things you can do is to make a stable, happy home, where he feels secure (ie, parent around constantly and predictable routine), he knows he can't put anything past you, and doesn't have a whole lot of stress coming from mom and/or dad's personal problems weighing on him. Children are surprising adept at shouldering their own problems if the environment is good.
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