Learning Centers Aid Academic Achievement

Professional learning centers help challenged and accelerated learners improve academic achievement.
Breann Leier helps Serena Cramer and Lexie McCarty improve their math skills at Mathnasium.

Minnesotans value education. It seems particularly important in this tight labor market for students to succeed in the classroom and be well prepared for college and career. For some families, enlisting the help of professionals outside of the classroom can provide solutions to basic and accelerated learning. But not all learning centers are the same.


As the name suggests, this center specializes in math only. Year round services range from bringing students up to grade level, closing gaps in math knowledge and preparing advanced math students for college admission tests or the highly competitive University of Minnesota Talented Youth Mathematics Program (UMTYMP).

Scott Bernstein at Mathnasium says, “We begin by determining a student’s numerical fluency and then customize a learning plan to set the stage for future success. I was the kid who was always crying at the kitchen table when attempting math homework. It didn’t make sense to me. Part of our method is to find a way to make math make sense. And once students develop a few tricks, their eyes light up in surprise at their own skill. They gain confidence and overcome their math anxiety. With a parent’s permission, we can also communicate with schoolteachers and help take the pressure off at home regarding math homework. We’ve helped students as young as four and as old as fifty-four. He was a professional preparing for an advanced degree program at Notre Dame.”

Stacy Maxwell signed up her 9-year-old daughter at Mathnasium when she began to struggle with math. “I was hesitant at first,” says Maxwell, “because I knew I could still help my children with schoolwork. But I was taught differently than kids are being taught today and I was only confusing them. So Mathnasium has been worth the cost. My youngest has improved two grade levels in math. We’re so happy with it, we’ve also signed up our eleven-year-old. They go twice a week and don’t dread it. They love it and are getting their best math grades ever. We may reduce our visits to once a week at some point. But for now, we think math is so important, we’re going to stick with the program.”

13720 83rd Way N.; mathnasium.com/maplegrove

Sylvan and Huntington Learning Centers-

Both provide catch-up and accelerated instruction in a variety of subjects. Specialized tutoring and exam preparation are also available. “What we're most proud of is our ACT preparation, where we've seen average test scores improve by 4.25 points. For some students, that can make the difference between paying for college and getting a scholarship," says Nicole Egan, Huntington.

7928 Main St., tutoring.sylvanlearning.com; 16350 County Road 30, maple_grove.huntingtonhelps.com

Kumon Math and Reading Center-

Specializes in math and reading with emphasis on a complete English education. Gwen Peters at Kumon says that many English as Second Language (ESL) families visit Kumon for assistance with comprehension and dialect. Kumon does not offer homework specific tutoring or test prep. The goal of Kumon is to bring students 2-3 years above grade level using proprietary worksheets geared to each learner. 11234 86th Ave. N.; kumon.com

 Learning Rx-

Unlike tutors who teach specific academic subjects, Learning Rx is like having a personal trainer for your brain. The focus at Learning Rx is cognitive brain training to improve memory, reasoning, processing, focus and attention. Trainers specialize in intense mental exercises to improve brain function.

Center Director, Bobbie Kullas says that the exercises are suitable for learners ages 5-85 and are not done using books, paper and pencil. “We use manipulatives at an intense pace to fatigue the brain,” she says. “This allows changes in synapses to happen. Kids see it as a puzzle or game. It’s more fun than typical homework and we see 3-5 years of improvement after 12-36 weeks of training. Our brain training also works well for learners with ADHD, autism, dementia or brain injury. It also helps athletes gain a competitive edge. For example, a hockey player can improve their visual processing speed and reaction time. This helps them more quickly anticipate where the puck is going to go.”

Julie Lorge enlisted the help of Learning Rx for her 13-year-old son who has autism and dyslexia. “He’s intelligent and carries a high GPA,” says Lorge. “But he couldn’t read at all. Now, after eight months of brain training at Learning Rx, he can read at a third grade level. I can’t put into words what a positive impact this has had. We knew he had the ability but he couldn’t get his brain to make the necessary connections until now. And reading hasn’t been the only benefit. We’ve seen his self-confidence, sense of humor and social skills improve. That means a lot for an autistic person who has no natural ability to understand social rules. He is now prepared to move from learning to read to reading to learn.” 7270 Forestview Ln. N. Ste. 100; learnngrx.com/maplegrove