Businesses Devoted to Personal Learning
The art of tutoring has evolved from asking a high-school neighbor to help Johnny with his homework to full-time service businesses devoted to personal tutoring. Fancy websites, extensive diagnostic tests and corporate franchises now dominate the world of tutoring.
Edmond’s Club Z! In-Home Tutoring Services is one of more than 300 Club Z! franchises across the nation that offer one-on-one instruction for grades pre-kindergarten through 12, plus adults. Area director Eric Allenbach interviews and administers tests to students, then matches them with state-certified tutors who meet the clients’ academic needs and personalities.
“We help students find passion in learning and want them to be life-long learners. If we’ve done that, we’ve succeeded,” he said.
Most tutoring is in-home with flexible time frames to match parents’ schedules, but it can also include libraries, schools and parents’ offices for sessions during the school term and summer vacation.
“Due to medications and behavioral issues, one elementary school student was to be held back a grade but her mother refused to sign the agreement and scheduled tutoring sessions for the summer,” Allenbach said. “The girl improved so much that she did not have to be held back.”
Club Z! is located in southeast Edmond. Its most requested subjects are reading and math, especially upper-level mathematics like geometry and algebra. Allenbach said one student was in a school of advanced studies and had to pass a math exam or be kicked out of school. After brief tutoring at Club Z!, he got a B on the final.
Club Z! (www.clubztutoring.com) uses the student’s own school curriculum, including foreign languages and home-schooling, then develops a tutoring program customized to the student’s needs and goals. On average, students improve one to two letter grades during a semester of tutoring, Allenbach said.
In addition to helping students who are struggling with subjects, in-home tutoring services are offered for adults and homebound individuals who seek enrichment, or for those preparing for tests like SAT and ACT.
Robert Smith has a different approach. As owner of Edmond’s ABCD (Accelerating Brain & Cognitive Development) Factory, his method is cognitive/processing training rather than tutoring. It involves diagnostic testing and sessions three times per week for 10 weeks, or about three months with holidays factored in. He guarantees a two-year improvement but says students can improve 3.3 years, a nationwide average. The program is for age 6 through adult.
“We’re learning specialists,” Smith said. “It’s such an effective program and it doesn’t go away.” When he retests students a year later, the average retention is 98.7 percent of what they gained in the program.
One student had never made an A before training at ABCD Factory and now consistently makes A’s and B’s. Another student made F’s in spelling and completed the program when he was 10; now 11, he makes A’s and competes in spelling bees. Using a game-like atmosphere and tools like a metronome and stopwatch, Smith teaches students to improve learning skills using sustained, divided and selective attention. Even 8-year-olds can name all 43 presidents, foreword and back, within days.
With a background in education and psychology, Smith is passionate about building self-esteem and motivating his students. He simultaneously trains them in problem solving, concentration, memory, comprehension, focus, logic and reasoning while increasing their speed in auditory and visual processing.
A second-grader who read at kindergarten level and had ADHD and dyslexia came to Smith to go through the program.
“After three months, she increased her reading level from a disappointing 0.9 to an incredible 2.5, got off her medications and became more focused. It changed her life,” he said.
ABCD Factory (http://abcdfactory.processingskills.com) is located at 301 S. Bryant in Ashling Square.
Trinity School (www.trinityschoolokc.org) offers tutoring services on a limited basis for area students after school. The staff also provides tutoring for students who are enrolled in private school classes. The Trinity Tutorial provides a 45-50 minute tutoring session five days per week, during the school day, to Trinity students in grades one through eight. They meet with the teacher in a small group of three to four students with a long-term goal of one-on-one daily sessions with mentor teachers for three to five years. Focusing on the areas of language and math, the Trinity Tutorial is a vehicle for remediation or enrichment.
With a history dating to 1961 as Trinity Episcopal School, Trinity is now non-denominational and has 128 students in preschool through eighth grade with a student-to-teacher ratio of 6-to-1. Trinity School recognizes each student as an individual learner.
Success stories include a student who was a non-reader when he started at Trinity in the second grade. Debbie Yoeckel, director of development and marketing for Trinity School, said: “He continued through the eighth grade and, upon graduating from college, was accepted into law school. His mother attributes the skills he learned at Trinity for his academic success.”
A Trinity School Seminar Series is also offered at the school, 1120 E. Hefner Road in Oklahoma City. A Reading and Writing Workshop will be added to the 2006-2007 curriculum for preschool through grade five.
Yoeckel said: “Our long-range plan is to broaden our tutoring program to include more non-Trinity students who can benefit from tutoring on a regular schedule. We’ll be kicking that off this summer.”
In addition to certified teachers tutoring in writing, reading and math, Trinity also has speech and occupational therapists on staff to assist students.
Edmond Learning Academy, 610 S. Kelly, is locally owned and operated by Scott and Brandy Spires. The academy uses state-certified teachers with classroom experience and is based on Edmond Public Schools’ curriculum.
“This is important because only a certified teacher will know how to read and utilize the tests that measure how a student learns and how quickly they will grow,” Brandy Spires said. “Teachers have an extensive knowledge base.”
Edmond Learning Academy guarantees that the average student will accomplish one year’s growth in about four months.
Whether searching for a tutor in specific subjects or training to improve learning skills, students have options today that didn’t exist earlier. Prices vary depending on individual needs.