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Holladay Journal

Learning centers shift tutoring services online during soft closure of schools

May 04, 2020 01:27PM ● By Julie Slama

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

Local learning centers are delivering online individualized student lessons as a continued solution for families in need of educational support during the COVID-19 pandemic.

At Sylvan Learning of Centers of Utah, Executive Director Mike Loudon said that the centers provide online services, engaging individual students in their learning experiences.

“Most of our students are learning math, reading and writing and we’re tutoring in homework assignments,” he said. “We’re using Sylvan Live to connect our students and teachers together in an adaptive learning. We’re doing it live, together, customizing students’ education.”

While Sylvan teachers use their own curriculum, which helps about 70% of the students who seek “catch-up” learning, they do not have homework to add to students’ and parents’ workloads. However, Loudon did say Sylvan teachers help about 50% of their students who seek help with school assignments.

“Many families struggle to do the homework. Some parents aren’t ready to step-in to teach. Some parents get frustrated, struggle how to work from home and help multiple kids with their packets and don’t know what to do. It’s just one more thing when there’s so much stress at home,” he said. “We know high school kids are not getting the same education with worksheets, question and answer session where they can’t even raise their hands. With 40 kids on Zoom, they’re not all going to learn or understand a concept. Schools are trying their best, but it’s not for everyone. That’s where we can step in to help.”

Loudon said that because they are live and engaged with each student individually, Sylvan teachers can be consistent in the student’s education.

“Our programs are customized to help each student so we can get them from where their education is now to where it should be. What may be interesting is that our students may actually come out ahead as educators predict there will be a slide come fall. Our students are getting the help now so they won’t need a major review and they will have gained confidence in their skills,” he said.

Meanwhile, Loudon said that the percentage of students who come to keep their skills current or enrich their education usually grows in the summer and he is predicting that this summer may be “a whole different look.”

“Families will have to understand their student may not be getting the education they’ve expected and will look into different learning options like Sylvan. We expect a boom in calls. We can provide K-12 fundamentals in reading, math, writing and study skills and help prepare students for ACT and SAT college-entrance exams and even our advanced math courses help prepare students for AP math exams,” he said.

Parents can schedule assessments now to determine students’ abilities and skills.

“It will help to get a snapshot of what skills your students know and we can help determine where they will need to be,” Loudon said.

Likewise, Mathnasium of Cottonwood Heights is also offering math assessments and teaching K-12 one-to-one online.

“We’re able to connect to the students and give parents an option as they work from home,” owner Mila Gleason said. “We provide live, interactive teaching, not watching a video then answering questions. Students don’t have to log in to answer a question or watch YouTube to figure out a problem. We teach students how to understand math in an individual setting. ”

While she also said there is an expected surge of students this summer, Gleason said it’s equally important for students to get the help now to work hard and concentrate without being preoccupied by friends at school or “becoming distracted by Netflix.” 

“It can be overwhelming, but parents can pick a schedule that works for them and this structure can be beneficial while students are learning at home,” Gleason said. “Our parents are working hard and are involved, our teachers have never worked harder, but students can still use help. We’re face to face on a computer and have customized learning plans for teaching concepts students need to master. We also can spend the last 15 minutes with homework help. We do that collaboratively and it ends without parents being frustrated trying to help their students at the dining room table.” 

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