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How Sylvan Learning Is Defining Supplemental Education in Today's Environment

More families are engaging with supplemental learning opportunities. How has this support changed post-pandemic, and what does this adjusted definition mean for your student?

By Morgan Wood1851 Franchise Contributor
SPONSORED 4:04AM 04/01/24

Sylvan Learning has been in the business of supplemental and enrichment education, providing proven results for students, families and communities for over four decades. Now, with the shifts education has felt as a result of the pandemic, additional educational support is in the spotlight.

“Usually, when parents seek out supplemental education, it’s because they feel like the child’s needs are not being met, for whatever reason, at the school,” explained Emily Levitt, vice president of education at Sylvan. “It’s not necessarily that the school is to blame or that they’re disappointed with the school; it’s just that they feel like their child is still missing something that the school can’t provide for whatever reason.”

Additional instruction doesn’t necessarily follow the academic calendar that a student is on during the school day. For many students, it’s used to backfill any gaps created along the way before they become too big of an issue. 

For example, if a student is working on but struggling with fractions during the school day, a supplemental education program may focus on skills that will help to create a stronger foundation for work with fractions. Therefore, the student is well-prepared as they approach in-school instruction, and they can combine supporting learning opportunities with in-school learning to have a solid approach to larger-scale concepts in the future.

However, with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, supplemental learning isn’t necessarily reserved for a select number of students who cannot get what they need from a standard school day. 

Though each individual child was impacted by COVID schooling differently, it is mainly true that each student experienced years of learning disruption, regardless of their level of ability or challenge areas at the start of the pandemic. Now, supplemental education is becoming something that can backfill those gaps for all students, ensuring they are as close to caught up as possible before entering the next grade or even aging out of the public school system.

When students fall behind in school, the ramifications go beyond the academic space. For children, school is a place to develop socially, emotionally and behaviorally while building their confidence in their skillset. When students don’t understand what is going on, they will likely become frustrated and even act out. All of these circumstances come in addition to any academic reflections.

“Imagine you’re terrible at your job,” Levitt said. “You’re bad at it, you don’t understand it, and your boss is constantly following up because you’re just not getting it right. Now, imagine you have to do that every day for 12 years. That’s what it’s like to be a child struggling in school.”

Some families will even consider enrolling their children in a private school or moving homes, and therefore school districts, to remedy the issue. However, with the right interventions, steps of that size are unnecessary.

As individual educators, school systems, and even the federal government take steps to support these students who are struggling in school, much in part due to COVID learning loss, it is critical to get these students back on track and back to loving their “jobs” before it’s too late.

This is where Sylvan steps in. Sylvan has long been providing supplemental education services, but the brand is primarily known for its after-school and summer programs. With federal funding, schools can leverage institutional partnerships with Sylvan franchise owners to provide additional support to a wider variety of students. This education provides the support students need to catch up and solidify any underdeveloped skills during COVID learning disruptions.

“Something like homework help will get a student to the point where their assignments are completed, but whether they really understand what they’ve done or not is another question,” Levitt said.

While mentorship and independent tutoring have their place, many families seek supplemental education services to allow a student to fill in educational gaps rather than treading water.

“It took them a year, maybe more, to fall behind. We can’t fix them in a week,” she added. “They really need that time to catch up.”

Regardless of the circumstances that led a child to face challenges at school, whether they were struggling before the pandemic or fell behind due to remote learning, teacher shortages and other disruptions, Sylvan’s individualized, long-term solutions supplement students’ current challenges in learning.

As we evaluate the new iteration of supplemental learning that has grown to flourish in recent years, it is critical to remember that these services are not just for a small portion of the school-age population. The consistent, big-picture support provided at Sylvan Learning is the supplemental education that many children need to recover from and have a strong trajectory out of the disruptions that so many have felt.

*This brand is a paid partner of 1851 Franchise. For more information on paid partnerships please click here.