Sylvan Learning Center

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Evolver
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Sylvan Learning Center

Post by Evolver »

My wife and I just had our son tested at the local Sylvan Learning Center.

They are recommending $4000 worth of classes. Are they trying to scam us? Has anyone here had any experience with them?
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Andonyx
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Post by Andonyx »

Well, I have no experience with them outside of their Midwest Franchise being one of our clients.

But from a logical perspective, is your child having any trouble at school?

You didn't say what issues he may be facing, but Sylvan I believe is targeted at helping kids who are having trouble in grade-school skill sets. If your child had no problems at school before, and if the teacher has never found it necessary to speak to you about outside tutoring, and suddenly their "Tests" reveal a problem...

Well, then yes, I'd say you ARE being scammed.

I guess I need more information about your son's academic past.

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Evolver
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Post by Evolver »

Thanks for responding.

He's going in to the 5th grade.

His grades are OK.

He has always been an excellent reader (in fact, the Sylvan test rated him as reading 5 years above his level), but now he hates to read. I've tried offering him different types of books, but none catch on.

Also, in tests at school where they read a passage and had to answer questions about it, he seemed to have no comprehension of what he read.

This has worried my wife and prompted his testing.
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TruthSeeker
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Post by TruthSeeker »

have you asked your son about the change in his reading?

Anything going on in his life around the time the shift happened?

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Evolver
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Post by Evolver »

TruthSeeker wrote:have you asked your son about the change in his reading?
Like a typical 10-year-old, he answers "I don't know."
TruthSeeker wrote:Anything going on in his life around the time the shift happened?
It's possible it started when I had a "coronary event" which resulted in some major surgery. I'm pretty much over it now, and otherwise he seems normal.
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Post by TruthSeeker »

My thoughts, not having met you or your son and not being a child psychologist or learning expert:

learning problems or disabilities do not have acute onset unless there has been some major injury or damage. It sound like that is not the case here since his reading level is still high and you did not mention any illness or accident.

Rather, your son (and family) has been through a severe stressor. He may still be feeling the after-effects of that. Sometimes people under severe stress have trouble concentrating or comprehending when they read. I imagine that that could turn a previously enjoyable activity into a fairly aversive event. Also, people who are depressed often stop enjoying things they previously enjoyed (anhedonia).

Before I spent all that money on courses, I would chat with your son about your illness. Find out if he thinks about it much, if he's scared (about your health, your death, his health etc), how he's sleeping (is he having dreams/nightmares about it?). And then reassure him about your current medical status and answer any questions he might have.

Others who are experts with children may have completely different input and, of course, I defer to them.

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Evolver
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Post by Evolver »

TruthSeeker wrote:Before I spent all that money on courses, I would chat with your son about your illness. Find out if he thinks about it much, if he's scared (about your health, your death, his health etc), how he's sleeping (is he having dreams/nightmares about it?). And then reassure him about your current medical status and answer any questions he might have.

Others who are experts with children may have completely different input and, of course, I defer to them.
Good advice, thanks.

I have spoken to him, although he often doesn't want to talk about it. I'll try again.
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Post by TruthSeeker »

Maybe he needs to talk to someone else. Maybe he's angry at you for getting sick, or doesn't want to burden or upset you in case you get sick again.

How about an aunt or uncle that he is close to?

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Evolver
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Post by Evolver »

TruthSeeker wrote:Maybe he needs to talk to someone else. Maybe he's angry at you for getting sick, or doesn't want to burden or upset you in case you get sick again.

How about an aunt or uncle that he is close to?
Hmmmm... the only relatives that are local are grandparents, and I don't see them doing this. But I'll find someone.

Too bad school just got out. The guidance counselor can usually help in this area.
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Post by LostAngeles »

My sister, when she was a bit older than your son, appeared to suddenly develop dyslexia. It's likely she always was and her schoolwork was merely explained away as she wasn't another me, like the teachers expected.

Another possibility, which may seem off the wall, is how "OK" are his grades and how much crap is he getting for them at school? When I was his age, I started answering questions wrong deliberately so I could pass for "normal" and it turns out I wasn't the only kid ever to do that.

However, your likely culprit is stress from your illness. Can he maybe talk to his Mom? Sometimes the other parent is close enough and far away enough to work out.

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Post by Evolver »

LostAngeles wrote: Another possibility, which may seem off the wall, is how "OK" are his grades and how much crap is he getting for them at school? When I was his age, I started answering questions wrong deliberately so I could pass for "normal" and it turns out I wasn't the only kid ever to do that.
He gets mostly B's with a couple of A's and C's, so his grades are really not bad at all, but not high enough to get crap from other kids (he's definitely not the top in his classes).
I don't think he's doing this deliberately. We even notice his comprehension problem when working with him at home.
LostAngeles wrote:However, your likely culprit is stress from your illness. Can he maybe talk to his Mom? Sometimes the other parent is close enough and far away enough to work out.
I do think my health has been part of his problem. On the bright side, my cardiologist just pronounced me "healthy", and to celebrate, we're all going to Orlando next week. Maybe a few trips on the roller coasters with me will show him I'm a bit tougher now than a year ago.

My wife has tried to talk to him, but she's too quick to get mad when he says he doen't know why he does something.
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Post by Denise »

You're child is an advanced reader. He doesn't want to read at the moment. Is 4000 dollars going to motivate him to read? Probably not. I'm going through some of the same with my daughter. She tests very well but won't pick up a book to save her life.

It's summer and they many kids just aren't that interested in academics. Is he going to fall behind? Highly unlikely with his score. Let's face it, elementary school does get boring after a while. I would bide my time and wait for something to really spark his interest, and then buy him some reading materials but don't overload him and don't let him think that you are only doing it because you want him to read.

Bottom line... 4000 dollars and forcing him to take additional classes when he is already doing well isn't going to do him any favors in my opinion. You're just going to end up with a child who is even more sick of reading and you are going to be out of money that could have been used in other areas such as a really cool summer camp. Just my opinion.

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Post by rwald »

For what it's worth, when I was in elementry school I was an advanced reader, but didn't really enjoy reading until my mom suggested that I try a light science fiction book; I think I must have read that book at least 10 times during the school year. If motivating your child to read is the big problem, you might want to try giving him books a bit below his reading level; for entertainment reading, he might not want to read more difficult books, even if he can.
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Post by kitty »

For one thing, check with his school and teachers. (or are you home schooling and I missed this....). Buy some cool comic books, especially the Japanese Anime. Does he read on line? any reading is good reading. Those prices aren't out of line for tutorial, but that should be what you would pay over a couple of years if all he has is a small problem. Trust me, there are places way more qualified than Sylvan to test the kid. Ask the local public school who they use for testing. They should also have a number of tutors they reccomend. Many of them are retired teachers that don't have to pay Sylvan a cut and are way cheaper.

Hey, someone has to pay for those expensive ads!

My child has had private tutorial since 2nd grade. She is tested every year. We pay out about 4-5 thousand a year, but she is very very dyslexic. Unless your child is quite severely learning disabled, that price is way out of line.

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Post by Evolver »

kitty wrote:For one thing, check with his school and teachers. (or are you home schooling and I missed this....). Buy some cool comic books, especially the Japanese Anime. Does he read on line? any reading is good reading. Those prices aren't out of line for tutorial, but that should be what you would pay over a couple of years if all he has is a small problem. Trust me, there are places way more qualified than Sylvan to test the kid. Ask the local public school who they use for testing. They should also have a number of tutors they reccomend. Many of them are retired teachers that don't have to pay Sylvan a cut and are way cheaper.

Hey, someone has to pay for those expensive ads!

My child has had private tutorial since 2nd grade. She is tested every year. We pay out about 4-5 thousand a year, but she is very very dyslexic. Unless your child is quite severely learning disabled, that price is way out of line.
Thanks, Kitty.
No, no home schooling.
We actually found a neighbor who used to be a teacher, who has been trying to help.
He started reading The Borrowers this summer, and gave up. Now he's trying Treasure Island.
Otherwise, the only thing he reads is Nickelodeon Magazine every month.

I think we just haven't found the material that interests him. I wish he liked sci-fi, as I have tons of books in that genre.
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Post by DrMatt »

rwald wrote:For what it's worth, when I was in elementry school I was an advanced reader, but didn't really enjoy reading until my mom suggested that I try a light science fiction book....
Subject matter... and a real ophthalmologic check-up can both be helpful. At certain ages, some kids need to focus on moving their bodies around.

I was reading Dr Seuss by Kindergarten, and found Reading Readiness and Tip and Mitten (remember them?) a big bore. My first-grade teacher didn't believe I could read, so she handed me a 3rd-grade social-studies text and had me read it aloud for her--then she had me take it home and I devoured it in a week.

Subject matter, subject matter... personalized subject matter. One of my elementary school classmates was thought to be illiterate until it was discovered that he'd read every book on baseball that the school library had, and he'd memorized several years of baseball statistics. He went on to become a professional sportscaster.
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Post by DrMatt »

When I was about 10, our classroom reading assignments were light mysteries, WW2 thrillers heavy on Alistair MacLean, and the like. By 11, at home, I discovered my mother's secret hidden copy of Fear of Flying, but it wasn't one of the things that I read cover to cover. Non-fiction by Asimov was core stuff for me.
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Post by jkorosi »

Sounds to me like your kid's just found something more interesting than reading - or at least, more interesting than reading what's assigned, which isn't hard to believe given the content of some of the readers I was assigned in school. As for the reading comprehension - I think he doesn't understand what he reads because he isn't really reading it. Check to see if he's sketching, reading ahead (or perhaps even different material) or something like that while the rest of the class is reading. If he's not, he's just thinking a lot or daydreaming about something; just let him work whatever it is out.

Interests change like socks are supposed to, and if his grades aren't suffering or fluctuating dramatically, there's no cause for alarm or even too much concern. Although starting to "not enjoy" something like reading as much as he used to can be a symptom of something like depression, one symptom is simply not enough to go down that long, hard, and often unnecessary road. And it's certainly not enough to spend four grand trying to fix.

Don't sweat it. That you're worried by itself is proof enough you're a good parent - in my opinion, anyway.

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Post by Evolver »

Very strane thing. Since starting football, he's suddenly reading again. When he's not at practice, he's got a Harry Potter book in front of his face.

Maybe he just needed to get rid of that excess energy.

Thanks to all.
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Post by Loon »

Glad to hear it, Evolver.
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