This year my daughter finished 5th grade. That means she starts middle school in the fall, which I can hardly believe. Where did the time go? This is a huge change for her, and will take some adjustment for all of us, I’m sure.
My daughter does well overall in school, but from the homework and projects she has brought home, I can see her schoolwork has become more and more challenging, and will continue to be in the 6th grade. That’s something I’m concerned about, so I want to do everything I can to help her do her best and make sure her study skills are ready for this next stage in her life.
So now with summer vacation starting soon, I have been thinking of how we can help her retain what she has learned this past year and build on that – maybe even get ahead a little bit before fall.
We’ve driven by Huntington Learning Center, which has locations all over the Twin Cities (and the U.S.), so I contacted one to learn what they have to offer.
To my surprise, they don’t just offer tutoring. They offer test prep as well as study skills and ADHD support.
I met with the owner, MaryKay Burfeind (on the right in each picture, below), who owns the Blaine, Woodbury and Stillwater locations with her husband Robert. I also met Valerie, the Center Director, and Connor, who started as a tutor in 2017, and now serves as office manager. I learned about some of their backgrounds – MaryKay has a degree in education but wanted to start a business, so she became a franchise owner of these Huntington locations which she loves because it incorporates all her skills and experience. And Valerie has a background in teaching in the Chicago area, but joined the team at Huntington several years ago when she moved to Minnesota.
It was great to talk to the staff here, learn about Huntington and get a tour of the facility. I was impressed with how organized the space was and ready to serve kids of all ages.
There were desks in the main area where tutors will meet with students up to a 4 to 1 ratio, though younger students tend to work more 1 on 1 with a tutor, especially while learning phonics.
All tutoring is individualized though, so no two students will have the same plan and material.
And all tutors are well educated, with a Bachelor’s degree at the minimum. They have 12 tutors at this facility, and some have even been here for 10 years.
Here’s a classroom with different activities and materials.
They had unique tools for teaching things like how to build words, with letters that were puzzle pieces you fit together.
They also had two rooms for testing. The testing rooms were where kids started at Huntington. Huntington does a comprehensive evaluation that they call “an academic evaluation” to determine where each student’s strengths and weaknesses are.
From there, Huntington develops a personalized learning plan to help meet each student’s needs.
I scheduled an evaluation for my daughter to see where her strengths and weaknesses are. I was told the whole evaluation would take about 4 hours. Two of the hours are written, two are on the computer. It’s age-specific and would assess everything from visual and motor skills to reading to mathematics.
She could do the whole thing in one appointment, or divide it up. They suggested dividing it up to avoid fatigue toward the end which would affect the results. So she did the academic evaluation in two parts – 2 hours on one day, and 2 hours on the other day. Valerie, the director, was there with her the whole time, guiding and instructing her.
As I waited to pick her up from her evaluation, I watched the activity of the center. There were kids of all ages – kindergarten to high school. I watched a dad come and pick up his little girl who was walked out by her tutor, a nice middle-aged woman. I also watched as a teenage boy chatted with his tutor, who was greeting all the kids as they came in and out. I could see that the kids really bond with their tutors here.
After my daughter’s evaluation was done, Valerie talked to me and said everything went well. I asked my daughter how she felt about it. She said she felt good. I’m glad I broke it up into two days though as I think four hours of testing would have been tiring.
Within a few days I had a follow-up appointment to meet with the director and get the results. This is typically done with just the parents, particularly if the child is younger because it gives us a chance to talk honestly in case there are concerns.
This appointment can last an hour to an hour and a half. That seemed long to me but at the appointment she went over a lot and the time went fast. She showed me the tests that my daughter took, and her answers. She did great on some of it, but other parts she struggled with more. I was surprised but fascinated. I liked seeing how well she was doing in some areas, and I liked that the tests really dug deep to assess things that hide beneath the surface. I also appreciated Valerie’s expertise and professionalism in explaining everything and answering my questions.
I was given a binder with her detailed test results, and a plan to help her moving forward.
Valerie really wanted to help my daughter thrive, and it was encouraging to learn about how closely Huntington works with the student, the family and the school. Everyone’s role is important, and Huntington not only communicates directly with a student’s teacher(s), making regular school visits, but they provide updates to families via conferences.
I was also given information about pricing and payment options. Fortunately, Huntington offers all kinds of options. If you can’t pay in full, you can pay a monthly amount over 12 months with no interest at all. If you need longer than 12 months to pay it, they offer financing via a third party with an interest rate that is based on your credit score.
It was a lot of information for me to think about, but there was no pressure to make a decision right away. Valerie answered all of my questions and encouraged me to think about it.
Overall, I was impressed with Huntington Learning Center. It was well staffed and organized, and they work well as a team to get the best results for all students here. They can help everyone here, no matter what one’s strengths and weaknesses are. In order for your child to really benefit from time spent here, you do need to plan on investing time and money, but it’s an investment in your child’s education.
For more information, visit the Huntington Learning Center website.
(Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Huntington Learning Center, and my daughter’s evaluation fee was waived. However, all opinions are 100% mine.)