Finding Help Outside The Classroom
By Daniel Beauregard
Every child learns differently. As a result, some students need more help than others, and may even require assistance outside of the classroom. Whether your child has trouble grasping a particular subject or just needs a hand organizing his or her study habits, help is available. From one-on-one tutors to learning centers, the Atlanta area offers resources that can help identify your child’s particular challenges and customize their instruction to fit his or her needs.
Sometimes a child doesn’t know when or how to ask for help. Fortunately, there are several warning signs that can indicate that your child may be in need of extra help, the most obvious being a drop in his or her grades.
“A couple of signs are consistent struggling in getting homework finished, or struggling with weekly quizzes,” says Jim Lawlor, owner of Appleton Learning, which has locations in Marietta and also Roswell. Other signs include “lack of motivation … attention problems, disorganization, procrastination or stress,” says Carol Chandler-Wood, founder and CEO of Total Learning Concepts, a tutoring service with three metro Atlanta locations.
Once you’ve determined that your child needs help, the next step is figuring out the best way to help them. C2 Education, a national chain of learning centers with 16 locations in metro Atlanta, administers tests to evaluate what the students know.
“Then, the parent, student and a C2 program director review the results and discuss the student’s goals—what they and the parent want to get out of the experience,” says Jessica Stephens, C2’s marketing manager.
Maureen Sullivan, director of the Dunwoody location of Mathnasium, a learning center specifically dedicated to mathematics, speaks to students about their favorite and least favorite parts of math to figure out why they’re struggling.
“They might say, ‘I loved math up until last year and I hate it now,’ and that’s a red flag that something went wrong last year,” she says.
Appleton Learning takes a different approach. Its “geniuStyle” program identifies a child’s learning style, including “how they like to receive information, process information and organize information,” says Lawlor. Students are classified as belonging to one of eight different learning styles—each named for a famous thinker or artist such as Aristotle, Da Vinci, Plato or Socrates—and instruction is customized accordingly.
Heather Love, associate director for Atlanta Tutors, speaks with parents and administers practice tests to gain insight into a student’s particular strengths and challenges, and tailors her approach to meet those needs.
“If a student is more of a visual learner, then a tutor can take the time to draw diagrams or use instructional videos,” she says. “For the auditory learner, a tutor can teach the student songs that incorporate math facts or grammar rules.”
Customization is also a key component at Total Learning Concepts. “We tailor our work very specifically to each student, rather than plugging them into pre-existing, ‘canned’ programs of study,” Chandler-Wood says.
At Appleton, a large part of tailoring instruction to each student is frequent communication between all parties involved. “We are constantly in communication with parents, students and teachers,” Lawlor says. Likewise, Stephens says communication with parents is “a key part” of the C2 Education process.
The benefits of supplemental instruction aren’t limited to children who are having trouble with a particular subject. Tutors and learning centers like Kaplan and Applerouth can also help students prepare for standardized tests such as the SAT, ACT, CRCT and SSAT.
Enhancing Classroom Learning
In addition, some learning centers offer students the chance not just to catch up to their classmates, but to enhance their current coursework. Centers like C2, Mathnasium and Appleton even offer different summer programs to help students prepare for the coming school year or gear up for standardized tests. “Summer sessions at Total Learning Concepts may involve enrichment work, such as previewing material for the next school year in subjects the student believes will present him or her with the most challenges,” says Chandler-Wood.
The goal, says Stephens, isn’t just to help students with their current classes, but to prepare them for the future by teaching them how to become independent learners who can succeed on their own outside of school.
“We don’t want students to just come in and memorize everything and then regurgitate those facts onto a test,” she says. “We want them to take this knowledge and these abilities with them on to college and beyond.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
770-971-1500 (Marietta), 770-998-1500 (Roswell), www.appletonlearning.com
Total Learning Concepts
770-381-5958 (Lilburn), 770-466-8282 (Loganville), 770-271-7544 (Dacula), www.totallearningconcepts.com