An introduction to the world of tutoring for parents who are searching for effective strategies to help their children achieve their education and career development goals.

by Robert Kirwan, O.C.T., B.A.(Math), M.A.(Education)
Professional Education & Career Development Coach & 
Director of The Learning Clinic Education Centre

"A PARENT'S GUIDE TO TUTORING" is one of a series of online publications that are being made available through The Learning Clinic Education Centre. Some of the publications on the site will have been developed by experts from a variety of education, training and career development fields. Others have been designed and developed by Robert Kirwan, who owns and operates The Learning Clinic Education & Career Development Agency, his private practice as a Professional Learning Coach.

Many of the publications will be supplemented with a variety of other forms of media. Some will include a video component. Some will include an audio component. Most will be available in print online so that you can take time to read the information that is most pertinent to your own situation. The nice thing about an online publication is that you can always share it with your family and friends who may also benefit from the contents.

by Robert Kirwan, O.C.T., B.A.(Math), M.A.(Education)
Professional Education & Career Development Coach & 
Director of The Learning Clinic Education & Career Development Agency

Making a decision to entrust your child's future to a another person should never be made lightly. As a parent, you need to be certain that you are making the right choice. And yet, we willingly turn our children over to the public school system every day, trusting that the classroom teachers know what they are doing and will be able to do what is best for our children. 

We are fortunate to have so many well qualified teachers who do a wonderful job with our children and are very passionate about their professional responsibilities. They do the best they can with the resources available to them.

Nevertheless, at times it becomes necessary to intervene and provide your child with extra assistance in order to help him/her achieve success in school and maximize his/her learning potential. This is not to say that you lack confidence in the teachers. It is just a fact of life that there are times in every child's life when some outside assistance is warranted and which if done properly will positively impact on the child's future.

That being said, for most parents there comes a time when tutoring will be considered. That moment leads to several very important and challenging questions:

  1.  How do you know if your child would benefit from tutoring assistance? 
  2. What are your options when it comes to tutoring and how do you know which is the best one for your child? 
  3. If you do seek tutoring help, what should you expect from that tutor?

These are all excellent questions and ones that should weigh heavily on the minds of any parent or grandparent who is considering stepping in to provide assistance to a child or grandchild at any age and at any grade level from elementary to secondary to post-secondary.  Just because your child is in university or college, it is still difficult to see him struggling with his studies.

This could, therefore, be one of the most important sections of the entire Learning Clinic Education Centre. What follows is material that MUST BE READ before making any final decision about whether or not to provide your child with support and assistance in the form of tutoring.

In order to get the most out of the PARENT'S GUIDE TO TUTORING, you should read all of the sections that follow and at the end you should be better prepared to answer the following two questions:

  1. Would your child benefit from tutoring services?
  2. Which of the available tutoring options is most suited to meeting the needs of your child?


First of all, let me state that the primary mission of my private practice, which is called The Learning Clinic Education & Career Development Agency, is to help students of all ages and from all situations achieve their education, training and career development goals. That is what I have decided to do with my life after a 28 year career as a classroom teacher. I felt that the best way to use all of my experience and knowledge was to become a "Professional Education & Career Development Coach".

To that end, I feel that the best way for me to accomplish this mission is to provide parents with the tools and resources necessary in order for them to perform their role as the primary educators and mentors for their children. The resources I provide will include information which can be found throughout this web site that may help them arrive at decisions and strategies that they may adopt in their particular situation.

Therefore, regardless of whether or not you decide to allow me to find instructors from The Learning Clinic Registry of Tutors to help your child, or if after due consideration you decide to pursue alternative tutoring options, I feel it is important for me to provide you with information that will help you make the best decision possible for your child. 

THIS IS NOT to be taken as a blatant marketing ploy to get you to use the services of The Learning Clinic Education & Career Development Agency. It is merely intended to provide you with information so that you can make an informed decision if you intend to seek tutoring assistance for your son or daughter. If you decide to go to another tutoring company, then so be it. At least you will be making a decision based upon sufficient knowledge about the options and you will not be simply falling for some advertising or marketing trick.

Whereas I will be making suggestions and recommendations throughout this publication and in particular this section, I feel it is important for you to be aware of the fundamental principles that are the foundation of my own personal philosophy of education and life in order for you to understand the "Learning Coach Approach"  that underlies everything that you will find in The Learning Clinic Education Centre. Bear in mind that I will be making every attempt to be objective when presenting the information, however, because of my responsibility to you as a Professional Learning Coach, there may be times when I find it necessary to interject some recommendations or suggestions in order to direct your attention to certain deficiencies in some of the options that are on the market today. I feel obligated to let you know if some aspects of other tutoring options are not in the best interests of your child so that you will be able to make informed decisions going forward.

I assure you once again that this part of The Learning Clinic Education Centre is clearly intended to provide you with the information you need to make a wise and informed decision about the education of your own child. I am confident that once you have all of the information clearly in your mind you will be in a better position to determine what is best for you child.

HOWEVER, I want to be very honest and transparent about where I stand. By opening a private practice I was not forced to adhere to the rules and regulations set by a franchise operation. Therefore, I have molded The Learning Clinic Education & Career Development Agency from what I feel are the very best practices when it comes to providing tutoring for students. I obviously believe in what I have established and I am not going to hide the fact that this bias may come through in much of what I have to say from here on in. 

Therefore, I feel it is necessary for you to understand the following about me:

  1. I consider myself a pragmatist, which means that I take a very practical approach to problems and I am primarily concerned with the success of failure of those actions;
  2. I accept the world as it literally exists and then deal with it accordingly;
  3. I believe that if you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got. Therefore, I am not afraid to innovate and "think outside the box" in my search for strategies for success for students, parents, grandparents and teachers.
  4. I believe that you can achieve anything you want in life if you have the courage to dream it, the intelligence to make a realistic plan, and the will to see that plan through to the end.


I am convinced that the best way for me to help students achieve their goals is to help parents, grandparents and teachers become more effective in their own respective roles. Therefore, I will make the assumption that if you are reading this section you are either a parent or grandparent who is sincerely interested in making sure you are as prepared as possible to help the children in your care. I trust you will find the following useful.

The Learning Clinic  Presents...

Chapter One: 
An examination of the different tutoring options available;

Chapter Two: 
Methods of Assessing Your Child's Starting Point;

Chapter Three: 
A review of the most effective way to determine the needs of your child;

Chapter Four: 
The Academic Management Program;

Chapter Five: 
The Essential Elements of a Good Academic Management Program

Chapter Six:

Questions & Answers



Recent trends in education, coupled with the increasing popularity of privately owned franchised "Learning Centres" and other such tutoring companies are now causing more and more parents to consider "tutoring" for their children. As a result of this phenomenal growth, companies are searching for strategies that will enable tutoring to become more affordable for a much larger segment of the population. 

Let us examine the main tutoring options that are available to you today.


A large number of franchised "Learning Centres" have established branch offices in many of the major cities of the province. They typically have their head office in the Toronto or Ottawa areas and can usually find individuals in each city who wish to get into the education business by purchasing a franchise in order to benefit from the support of the organization. Most of the owners of these franchises have a business background, but very few have had any actual classroom experience as a teacher. When I hear about someone with little or no experience in education "buying" a tutoring franchise, I actually wonder what they were thinking about when they made the decision. 

Owning a "tutoring company" doesn't automatically make you an education expert any more than standing in a garage makes you a car. It is important for a person to know something about education and how students learn when offering tutoring services to children. I strongly advise parents to always ask about the background and experience of anyone you are dealing with in one of the franchised centers. Find out what they know about education and learning. Check on their experience.

Most franchised learning centers use a model of operation that is relatively similar to the others. They find a building to rent which can be divided up into rooms for instruction, testing and administration. Parents are required to bring their child to the learning centre once or twice a week for hour-long sessions at a specified time after school hours or on the weekends when there will be hired instructors available to supervise their work. If you are lucky there may be a centre located near you, but often parents are required to drive 20 to 30 minutes to get to the centre and then they have to wait around to pick up their child afterwards. Your child receives one hour of instruction, but it usually involves two hours or more to get this instruction for your child when you take into consideration your travel time, arriving early, and getting back home. It is not the most convenient of situations for most busy families today since there are many demands on the time of young families when it comes to after school and evening activities.

Usually these "centres" offer " packaged programs" of study using a "mastery-learning" approach which requires students to complete a series of worksheets on particular concepts and skills until they record near perfect scores. Once they get a "passing grade" of 80 or 90% on a particular topic they receive some form of incentive reward as positive reinforcement and then they move on to the next page and so on and so on until they complete the period of time for which they have contracted in order to complete their program.

For some of you who are old enough to remember, this resembles the former "level system" that was employed in Ontario schools during the 1970's. It was a disaster in the classroom and simply lead to a situation where you "taught to the test" so that students could "pass" and move on to the next level. It was eventually discarded because it was ineffective in helping students acquire long-term development of skills. They just became good at passing simple tests.

Younger children tend to like this approach because they receive tangible "rewards" for their efforts in the form of prizes. Children in the early grades also respond favourably to seatwork pages where the work is repetitive and relatively easy. The pages do not take very long to complete and the children can usually see the "prizes" on display, giving them added motivation. As children get older and develop higher level thinking skills, they tend to find this approach much less stimulating and the prizes lose their motivational effectiveness.

Students in learning centers usually share their tutor with one or two other children. The group of three will sit at a table with the tutor who is there to explain the new worksheets, mark the papers, and help the students understand the concepts. The three students are usually at different age and grade levels and will be working on different unrelated assignments. The tutor works with each child as needed. With three children this means that each will receive an average of 20 minutes of direct individual attention from the tutor. Often this total is much less since there are times when all three students are working on seatwork and the tutor is merely available if anyone has questions.

When the children arrive at the learning centre at their scheduled time, they pick up their individual binder from the central desk. This binder contains the worksheets they have completed as well as the ones that they have left to do. The children are then assigned an available tutor. Some times they have the same tutor as before, but often the tutor will be different from the one they had the previous lesson. Having the same tutor is not critical with this model since the tutor is primarily responsible for correcting the worksheets then explaining to the student what must be done to correct any errors. The student then works on another similar page until the student obtains a mark that is high enough to move on. 

Parents are lulled into endorsing the "mastery learning" approach because they are allowed to look through the binder of worksheets at any time and see how well their children are performing on the sheets. When all of the work is kept in one place and you can see marks that demonstrate your child is achieving a considerable measure of success, you tend to be quite satisfied as a parent. It is nice and neat and easy to review, so parents feel they are getting their money's worth. I tell parents that just because they see children in a class walking single-file in a straight line down the hallway in a school under the supervision of a teacher doesn't mean that all of those children have learned to be disciplined, polite and orderly. It means they can be disciplined, polite and orderly when the teacher is supervising them. The real test comes when the teacher is no supervising them and they walk down the hallway.

Unfortunately, franchised learning centers tend to be the most expensive tutoring option available to parents. There are a number of reasons for this. For example, the owners must charge enough to cover franchise fees, instructor fees, administration fees, profit for the franchise owner, the cost of materials for worksheets and prizes as well as to cover the rental of the space and purchase of the furniture. In addition, one of the largest components of the cost of operating a learning centre is the advertising. Usually franchise agreements demand a certain minimum level of advertising which gets very expensive. In order to cover the expenses,  most franchise learning centres require parents to sign a contract to attend a minimum number of sessions (usually 30 or 40 in total). By using one instructor for every three students they maximize the revenue they can generate while still holding out that they can provide for the needs of their students.

The greatest drawback of any kind of franchised learning centre is that they are a "franchise". Franchising works well for restaurants, retail outlets, hotels, fast-food chains and department stores, where you can expect the same products no matter where you go. However, when it comes to learning and education, the "one-size-fits-all" approach just does not work. Learning is very individual and requires flexibility. Franchises demand that all of the operations function the same and use the same material in order for the head office to have control over quality and standards. It is very hard for any kind of franchise to meet the individual and unique needs of students.


This is generally the first thing that a parent will try when it comes to providing assistance to a child. It is quite natural to help your child with school work, especially during the early years. 

  1. TUTORING PROVIDED BY ONE OF THE PARENTS: I am not going to spend much time going over this situation. The fact that you are reading this article tells me that you have likely discovered the pitfalls and challenges of trying to be your child's "tutor". Most parents have difficulty tutoring their own children. I know I did and I was a professional teacher. I tell parents not to feel badly about this. You are too emotionally tied to your child. It is like selling your own house. You take it personally when a prospective buyer points out flaws in your house and so it stands to reason that you would take it personally when your child is struggling with school work. You want so much for your child to succeed that you tend to tutor with your "heart" instead of your "head". Most importantly and perhaps the biggest reason why it is difficult for parents to tutor is that you are your child's mother or father. You have a much different role to play in raising your child and while education is one facet of your overall responsibilities, your child needs you to be a loving parent. When a child has difficulty with school work he/she feels embarrassed and humiliated because he/she feels as if you are disappointed. In most cases parents find that trying to tutor their own children just leads to tremendous stress and frustration. It is also hard on everyone in the family.

  2. TUTORING PROVIDED BY AN OLDER BROTHER OR SISTER: You may ask an older brother or sister to work with your child. This is the most convenient and obviously the least expensive. It can work well if your children get along well together, however, you may find that your "tutor child" is getting behind in his/her own studies as a result of having to spend time working with his younger brother or sister. The older sibling may also not be as patient as needed while working with a younger brother or sister and soon the effectiveness wears off. Eventually the tutoring sessions become less and less frequent until they die off all together. I often advise parents that it is nice to have an older brother or sister to turn to in emergencies or when stuck on a particular problem, but it is not the best tutoring situation for a child.


Having a friend, relative, older child of a friend, etc. come in to tutor your child is acceptable if you can find someone who is going to be dependable and consistent. It is also possible that you will bring your child to the home of the tutor since that may be more convenient for the instructor. This is not as effective as doing the tutoring at the home of the student, but it is still better than nothing.

This is also one of the least expensive options since your relationship with the tutor may be such that they will likely not want to charge you very much for their services. They may be "doing it to help out" as a way of demonstrating the strength of the friendship. 

This situation always works best if the relationship is not particularly close. In other words, the better the child knows his/her tutor, the least effective the tutoring will be. This has nothing to do with the ability of the tutor or the person's qualifications. It is just that often a child will find it easier to respond to a stranger than to a friend. To use another analogy, you hate to sell a used car to a friend, just in case something goes wrong with the car after the sale. If anything does go wrong, you feel bad because your friend may have to spend money repairing the car and your friend may feel upset because you sold him a car that doesn't work. There is a lot of pressure on the tutor in this situation and as a result the tutor may not be around very long if it is something that may end up affecting the friendship. Also, if the tutor has to cancel sessions on a regular basis for personal reasons, you may have difficulty saying anything because you are likely paying him/her a low fee for the services to begin with.

One of the greatest drawbacks of arranging for a friend of the family or a relative to provide tutoring for your child is that your child must "accept" the skills of the tutor. When it comes to helping your child with learning skills and education, the tutor must be able to adapt to the student and be able to meet the needs of the child. As the child's needs change, the friend of the family may not be able to help. Then you are forced to end the tutoring or try to find someone else.


In cities which contain a School of Education, many of the teachers' college students are required to spend a certain number of hours in placements during the year. Some of these placements include providing "tutoring" to students during class time. 

The assistance is usually provided to the students who need special attention and this can often be of great benefit. However, as you will see below, this is often simply more of what the child has been receiving in the past, except that it is being done with student teachers in small group settings under the watchful eyes of the classroom teacher. It may be somewhat better, but it is not a significant change from the past. I caution parents to avoid falling into the trap of thinking that this is a true form of "tutoring". It is merely a classroom instruction strategy that assists the teacher and provides experience to the student teacher. The student teacher in this case is merely a "teacher's aid". 

I firmly believe that for tutoring to be effective it must be done "away from the school" and in an environment that is more familiar to the child. Namely, his own home. This is where the tutor can help the child develop skills that will remain for the rest of his life. A good "learning coach" will help a student develop organizational, time management, study habits, and many other skills that will themselves be used to enhance the learning of curriculum concepts at school and indeed skills that will be useful in all aspects of his life.


Most colleges and universities have a special "tutoring service" that is included as part of the tuition fee. This provides all students with a specific number of hours at the tutoring centre. I have heard mixed reviews about these services. The greatest complaint from students is that they don't receive consistent assistance over time. You have different tutors and you are often being given help with the academic concepts that are of immediate concern, but there is no long-term "coaching" involved. There are also a limited number of "tutors" available and you often have to wait a while to get in to see a tutor.

Unfortunately, many post-secondary students feel that since this tutoring is being provided "free" as part of the tuition fee, they will use it or "lost it". I always say to go ahead and take advantage of the free hours that you have paid for, but don't expect too much. The tutoring centers are no where near as effective as having a personal tutor to mentor you during your challenging years at university or college.


academic,assignments,books,boxes,business,businessmen,cartoons,emotions,George,learning,males,men,office,office equipment,overwhelmed,overwhelming,PCS,people,people at work,persons,projects,studying,times,wall clocksSome franchise companies have been established where you bring your child to their office once a week to review the worksheets that your child has completed at home under your supervision. This is an option that appears on the surface to be the least expensive option, however you are usually required to purchase commercially printed workbooks from the office to work from in order to enhance the program. These workbooks are designed to be attractive and appealing to young children, but they are certainly not all that functional since much of the space inside the covers is wasted in order to be more aesthetically appealing to the student. In some cases, when you add the cost of the books to the tutoring fee you are actually paying more for this form of tutoring and on top of that you are doing most of the work yourself.

Parents would often be just as well off going to an educational book store and purchasing their own workbooks for their children. That way you would avoid the "tutoring fee" that you pay mainly for the opportunity to tutor your own child. Parents who have tried this approach find that they do not stay with the tutoring program very long since it is quite challenging to motivate your child to get anything out of the program.


There are some companies that provide one-on-one, in-home tutoring for students. Most of these are franchise operations. You may also find some not-for-profit organizations offering this kind of service. In many cases, the owners / managers of these companies have had little or no direct experience as a professional educator. They are simply operating a business and hire tutors to work for them. Some may have a distant connection to the school system, but not many. As I mentioned above, buying a tutoring franchise doesn't make you an expert in education any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.

The company will send a tutor to your home to work with your child. 

Generally the tutor will have some kind of program to follow from the head office mainly because of the need for a franchise to be consistent from city to city. Some flexibility may also be built into the structure in order to customize the program a little to suit the needs of individual children. Nevertheless, because of the nature of franchises, some control is generally imposed by head office which tends to limit the potential impact of the instructional program. A franchise must always maintain consistency from city to city. That is the nature of a franchise. However, it is not always conducive to effective instruction.

Despite its drawbacks, this is still a good tutoring option in that your child is receiving the attention of one tutor who will be seeing your child every session, and the instruction is in your home, which makes it much more convenient for you and your own family.

The fee for this service is fairly similar in amount to that of a franchised learning centre, so you won't be saving any money on the tutoring. Fortunately for parents, the market conditions dictate that if the fee was much higher most parents would opt to go to a learning centre or forget about tutoring all together. Nonetheless, the total cost of the tutoring has built in provisions for a franchise fee to the head office,  instructor fees, a minimum level of advertising that is often dictated by the head office and of course the profit that must be earned by the owner to make the business viable.

In addition, you may be required to enter into a long-term contract with the franchised company. It should not come as a surprise if you must agree to a 36 hour contract of one to two hour-long sessions per week. The financial objective of many franchises is to find a way of collecting over $1000 in fees from each student in order to make the business viable. Be careful about getting locked into a contract that you cannot get out of if you find that it is not working. There is no point in forcing your child to do something that he doesn't like or is not benefiting from.

Because of the busy life-style of families today, you will find that some learning centers have begun to offer "in-home" service in addition to their "on-site" tutoring. The market will prevail and I think more and more parents will be demanding "house calls" when it comes to tutoring. It will be interesting to see how learning centers cope with the challenge of offering in-home tutoring services while maintaining the costs of running a centre as well.


A number of people in the community can be found offering tutoring services. They generally can be discovered on the internet or in small classified ads. Their rates are usually less than that charged by franchise companies. The greatest caution is that as a parent you don't know much about the tutor. True that some are retired teachers, while others are university graduates looking for part-time work to supplement their income. The problem is that they are limited in what they can do for a child. Your are pretty well left to either "take what they can offer" or spend a lot of time calling on these tutors until you find one that is close to what you are looking for. The price may be right, but you are dealing with your child's future, so be careful.


This is what I offer with The Greater Sudbury Learning Clinic. 

Instead of being part of a franchise operation, I am an independent education, training and career development consultant operating my own private practice. 

You get a personal tutor who will come into your own home to work one-on-one with your child, but I am not limited in the same way as I would if I was a franchise owner.

There are very few former professional educators who have established practices such as mine, but I expect that during the next decade you will find this to be one of the fastest growing segments of the entire tutoring industry. I also expect that most of the private practices will be owned and operated with individuals who have extensive experience and expertise in the field of education. In my own case I have been involved in education since 1972.

Because each independent practice will be run differently, I will provide you with information about how I operate my own practice. This should give you a good idea about how a similar independently owned tutoring agency would operate. 

I REPEAT...I am going to give you an idea of what to look for when you find an independent tutoring agency, if you can. While I certainly would like to be given the privilege of providing a personal learning coach for your child, I do not want you to feel that this is a blatant promotion of The Learning Clinic Education Centre. Regardless of who you turn to for assistance for you child, the most important thing is for you to do something that will meet the needs of your child.

As for my own practice, then, when a parent calls me up in search of a tutor for their child, I not only offer them the same services they could get from a franchised company, I also provide them with many value-added benefits because of my 28 years of experience as a classroom teacher. I am a current member of the Ontario College of Teachers, giving more credibility to my company. I am also interested in an overall "academic management program" for your child, which is why you will find so much information about career planning and personal development on The Learning Clinic web site.

The Learning Clinic Education Centre also provides students, parents, grandparents and teachers with a wide variety of resources that they can access free of charge to help them meet their education and career development goals. Practices such as mine are much broader in scope and are not one-dimensional. This is not the place to give you a full overview of the services I offer, but if you go to the Question and Answer section you can find out more.

I am also free to develop my own instructional program, so you will find that tutors have much more flexibility when it comes to developing customized programs suitable for their students. There are no restrictions. The Learning Clinic is a one-of-a-kind firm that is completely autonomous.

As for fees for service, there are not yet many firms like The Greater Sudbury Learning Clinic to compare with, but in my own case you will find that the fees I charge for tutoring are generally a bit lower than what you will find from the franchised operations. There are some costs that I do not have to account for, such as franchise fees, office rental and advertising. Furthermore, most parents are thrilled to find out that they are not obligated to sign an agreement that will bind them to a long term contract. You are only required to pay for six hours at a time and you have the ability to renew your tutoring for an indefinite number of six hour terms thereafter. This allows you to continue or terminate the program whenever you feel it is not benefiting your child.

There are three very unique value-added features offered through the Learning Clinic Education Centre that parents have greatly appreciated. We can offer these features because we are not a "franchise operation" and can therefore incorporate some benefits that will differentiate The Learning Clinic from other tutoring companies in the region.

  1. YOU CAN USE THE TUTOR TO HELP OTHER CHILDREN IN THE FAMILY AT NO ADDITIONAL COST: When a "Learning Coach" comes to your house to work with one of your children, you are free to use some of the time to have the tutor provide assistance to other children in your family if the tutor is qualified to work in that subject area. We believe that you are hiring a "Family Learning Coach" so we try to find out something about the other children in your family with respect to education in order to select a "Learning Coach" who is qualified to provide assistance to any of your children. You pay for six hours at a time, so how you use those six hours if up to you as the parent. You do not pay extra for this service.

  2. YOU CAN CONTACT THE TUTOR IN BETWEEN SESSIONS IF YOU NEED IMMEDIATE HELP: Your child's Learning Coach is available for consultation in between sessions if you need some immediate assistance that cannot wait until the next scheduled session. Often a quick phone call or an email can correct an immediate concern, so we want to assure parents and students that we are available in between sessions. There is no additional charge for this service unless we find that it is being abused.

  3. YOU CAN SUSPEND THE TUTORING FOR EXTENDED PERIODS OF TIME: If you find that you would like to take a break for the summer holidays or for an extended period of time during the year, you can merely stop the sessions and then resume them from where you left off. Parents appreciate this feature since it allows them to avoid spending money for tutoring during times of the year when school is out and they would like to give their children a break.

I predict that private practices will soon be opening in cities across the province as more teachers retire from the classroom and discover that this is an exciting and rewarding way to continue to make a difference for children. When you find someone who is offering in-home tutoring services, make sure you ask if they are part of a franchise or if they are operating a private practice. Next, find out if they are a member of the Ontario College of Teachers. These are two very important items to know when deciding the future of your child.

If you would like to see a list of all of the possible benefits of running an independent tutoring agency, I have provided them for you in the column on the right hand side of this page. Once again, I only show this to you so that you have an idea of the kind of benefits that an independently operated practice can offer compared to a franchise operation.




Now that you have a good idea about the differences between the tutoring options that are available, let me provide you with information about the assessment techniques that are employed by the various tutoring companies.

Most franchise operations, whether they are learning centres or those offering in-home service, advertise that they will provide you with a FREE no-obligation assessment. Many parents recognize that this is merely a marketing ploy designed to make you think that you are getting something for nothing. Parents see it for what it is - a way to get you in for an interview so that the owner or manager can begin to entice you to purchase their services. 

If you've ever fallen for a similar type of advertising promotion from automotive repair shops where you are offered a free 20-point inspection, you know that the inspection will "always" turn up problems that are deemed "critical" to the safety of you and your family and thus must be repaired immediately. You know the drill, so keep in mind that this is still a "buyer-beware" marketplace, regardless of what it is that you are shopping for - even tutoring for your children.

Furthermore, if you follow the advertisements of most franchise companies you will see that their FREE assessment is something that is always offered. They never charge anyone for the assessment. Nor should they or any other tutor for that matter. This is not a "special" they are offering. It is merely a necessary part of the process and it should be free in the first place.

Keep in mind that "assessment" can take many forms, some of which I will get into later on. Even if you have a member of your family doing the tutoring, there has to be some kind of initial assessment. Therefore, in order to provide your child with a tutoring program it will be necessary to perform an assessment of some kind. As I mentioned above, this is and should be part of the overall service, so whether someone offers it as free or not, you are still paying for it in some way as part of your ongoing fee for services.

In order to give you a better idea of how the free assessment process works for most franchise companies, let me at the same time address the GUARANTEE that is also offered by some franchise companies in conjunction with their free assessment.


Keep in mind at the outset that it is my professional position that you CANNOT guarantee the success of tutoring programs of any kind. In fact, if you speak to most professional educators they too will agree that you cannot guarantee any measure of success when it comes to education. You can increase the probability of success, but you cannot guarantee it. You will certainly be able to recognize my professional feelings about guarantees in the section that follows, but that is how strongly I feel about this kind of claim and I want all parents to understand what to ask for if you find yourself in a position where you are being offered such a guarantee.

Let me state clearly that while some franchise companies claim they will “guarantee” your child will improve by at least a full grade level from the tutoring program, The Learning Clinic Education Centre will NEVER make such a guarantee. However, that doesn't mean that we do not believe in our program. On the contrary. We feel that it is not necessary to make such a statement. 

As a professional educator for most of my working life, I can definitely guarantee you that no one can guarantee any level of success when it comes to learning. You may be able to guarantee that there will be improvement over the grades on a standardized test as a result of some instruction designed to generate the improvement, but you cannot guarantee that a child will improve a full grade level or more in terms of his performance in school. 

Let me suggest a way you can test the merit of a franchise guarantee. Ask if it is a full grade level according to the classroom teacher? I think you will find that the franchise owner will never guarantee it against the classroom evaluations, but will insist it is a full grade level in accordance with their own testing device.

Nevertheless, I will guarantee that your child should benefit positively from most forms of tutoring and that it should make him/her a better student. What you have to do as a parent is determine which tutoring option is best for your child and will have the potential to help him improve his overall performance. Forget about looking for any kind of guarantee and beware if you are offered a guarantee.

As a professional learning coach and a former teacher for 28 years, it bothers me when companies make claims that they can "guarantee" that your child will improve by one or two grade levels during the course of their specified contract agreement. I therefore feel it is my obligation to provide you with some cautionary information if you are seriously considering selecting a tutoring company for your child based mostly on the claim that your child is guaranteed to improve by one or more grade levels. 


When you make an appointment for your free initial assessment with someone who runs a franchised company, your child will be asked to do a written “diagnostic” test that will reveal certain deficiencies in specific skill areas of literacy and numeracy.  You may or may not be advised beforehand about the nature of the evaluation test, but even if you are, your child is usually not expecting to be given a test when he shows up with you for the interview.

The initial test is usually "thrust upon" your child during your first interview session as part of the "free evaluation" offer. As a former teacher I can tell you that when a child is given a surprise test and placed inside a strange room to complete a series of skill testing questions that are written in a style that is unfamiliar to him under an imposed time constraint, the results will never be accurate. The end score will usually be far lower than expected with many careless errors driving down the score. The main cause of anxiety for the child doing the test is that the questioning will likely be in an unfamiliar style which will create uncertainty in the mind of the child.

Therefore, when you are shown the results of the test, which is usually marked right there on the computer while you are in the office, you will understandably be astonished and very concerned at how low your child scores in a number of significant areas, some of which you may have thought he was doing well in based on his school reports. The owner or manager will then show you a recommended program of instruction that will span several months of tutoring which will focus on improving the areas of weakness that were identified by the "free diagnostic test". You will likely be fearful that if you do nothing your child will suffer greatly and you can rest assured that the owner or manager of the tutoring company has been trained in ways that add to your fear. There is pressure put on you to take immediate action or risk having your child suffer the consequences of falling even further behind. 

This is very similar to the situation in which you find yourself when at an auto shop when the mechanic comes out and recommends that you replace your brakes immediately before driving your car any further. Even if you thought things were not at a critical stage, what are you to do? How do you know that the mechanic is mistaken or perhaps exaggerating the danger. It is often fear that forces you to authorize the work and pay on your credit card.

Therefore, when you are sitting across from the owner of a franchise tutoring company, looking directly at the "numerical scores" that show severe deficiencies in your child, what are you to do as a parent? 

The GUARANTEE that your child will advance a FULL GRADE LEVEL is something that will likely influence your decision at that point. After all, how can you refuse. You can spend some money to have your child improve by over a full grade level and the tutoring company will guarantee the success of the program. All you have to do to make things better for your child is sign a contract and pay on your credit card. It is hard to refuse if you care at all for your child.

When you do fall to the pressure and enroll your child, the program of instruction will likely include a series of worksheets that focus on the weak skill areas identified in the test and will be designed to help your child "master" those skills. 

At the end of the program a second diagnostic test will be administered. This time your child will be well-prepared and fore-warned. The test will be written in a much more comfortable setting and your child will be faced with a familiar style of questioning that he has been working on for many weeks prior to the test. This end-test will usually reveal significant growth in the weaker areas, thus enabling the company to justify its guarantee. In other words, by comparing the score of the initial test to the end test, your child will have easily advanced by more than a full year according to the "test tables". 

It does not, however, mean that your child is doing that much better in his day-to-day program at school. This is a test of your child's ability to perform on the standardized test that has been administered by the tutoring company and scored by a commercially developed scale. Do not think for a moment that your child has progressed a full grade level in that period of time in terms of his performance in the classroom. When you are shown the results of the end test you will then feel good about helping your child overcome his learning deficiencies, and you will even consider enrolling for another period of time to help your child continue to grow and prosper.

On the other hand, keep in mind that "success breeds success". So it may very well be that your child is doing much better in school. If he is successfully completing the worksheets that he is being given at the franchise learning centre then it is quite possible that his marks will be going up in school. This is a natural outcome, but it should not be used to verify the effectiveness of the learning centre. You could be getting much better results from one of the other tutoring options available in the region.

In order to prove for yourself that this method of evaluation is unreliable,  I would recommend that you ask to enroll your child for a "second" session with the franchise company. Have the tutoring company provide your child with another 30 or 40 sessions of instruction in exactly the same skill areas. Only this time you will be using the "end-test" results as your starting point. See if your child improves by at least a full grade level this time around. I doubt you will see as great an improvement and you may actually be able to get your money back the second time around. Don't be surprised however, if you are not offered the same "guarantee" as you were given in the first instance. This "guarantee" may only be for the first time you enroll. If that is the case, then you can draw your own conclusions as to the reliability of the program and the validity of the guarantee.

As a parent, you should be looking for a tutoring option that places more emphasis on improving the overall learning skills of each student so that success can be achieved in class which is where your child needs to feel successful. The tutor should be supplementing the work being done by the classroom teacher and demonstrate concern about with helping your child “learn how to learn” rather than “learning how to complete work sheets”. You are looking for an approach that will provide the most long-lasting results and is most supportive of what your child is dealing with at school, regardless of what level he is in. 


Each Personal Learning Coach has his own preferred style when it comes to working with students. In my case, I have found the "Baseline Approach" to be most effective in assessing a student's starting point and then developing a program of instruction that is most appropriate to move forward from that baseline. 

Most independent tutors will use something similar to this kind of approach. You will seldom find franchised companies endorsing this kind of action since head office will usually want to maintain their standardized "bait and hook" approach that incorporates a free diagnostic assessment and a program guarantee based on the results of that initial assessment. Many parents fall for the bait and feel too guilty to walk away without signing a long-term contract.

The greatest advantage of using a "baseline approach" for an initial assessment is that it works for strong students as well as weak students. For example, at The Learning Clinic we often provide services to students who are excelling in school. They are getting marks in the high 80's or low 90's. They simply want someone to help them get to a higher level in order to have a better chance of being accepted into competitive programs in university. Their baseline may be very high and the desired outcome may only be a couple of percentage points. This is where true "academic management" skills come into play and as you will see later, this is what the "Learning Coach" approach is all about.

Let me briefly explain how the "Baseline Method" works and you will see what I mean.

  1. First of all, it is important that we establish the "Big Goals" for the student. In other words, what changes are desired, and over what period of time do we wish to accomplish those changes? To do this I ask the parents to describe the changes they would like to see over the next twelve months. By doing this, we are able to establish a specific target which is achievable over a reasonable period of time. We may still discuss "long-term" education or career goals, but I find it is always best to work within "short-term" chunks of about one year or less in length.
  2. Once we know our destination, or our "desired outcome", it is then critical for us to establish the current status of the student. We need to know how far we have to travel in order to arrive at our destination. We do this by examining everything the student has done this year, including his report cards; exam results; anecdotal notes from teachers; opinions of the parents, self-evaluation, etc. During the first couple of sessions the personal tutor will pay particular attention to signs that will indicate various strengths and weaknesses of the student.  By getting to know the child we can establish the starting point, which I call the "baseline position" of the student. This gives us a much more accurate and true evaluation than any single diagnostic test which merely provides you with a bunch of numbers and compares the student to the standard test scores of the past.
  3. When we have a clear idea of our "baseline position" as well as our "desired outcome", we are ready to determine the "gap" which must be closed and hence develop strategies that will begin to close the gap.
  4. The "gap analysis" may force us to make adjustments to our desired outcomes and/or to our time frame. For example, we may find that there is too big a spread between our "baseline" and our "desired outcome" to reasonably expect to close the gap in the allotted time frame. On the other hand, we may discover that we can set our end targets higher if the gap is not as wide as we originally expected. In either event, our "desired outcome" must challenge the student, but it must not be so far out of reach that the student feels discouraged before he/she starts.
  5. The next step is to develop a strategic plan of action that will work in conjunction with the current learning environment in which the student finds him/herself. We do not wish to create an artificial environment, nor do we want to have a program of instruction that is completely separate from that in which the student is currently enrolled. For example, regardless of what we are doing through The Learning Clinic, the student must still meet the responsibilities of his/her current school program. The Learning Clinic program must not "add" to the student's workload, but must rather "complement" the current school curriculum, all the time aiming to close the gap and work towards our desired outcomes within the allotted time frame. A tutoring program should not be a "burden" to the student. It must make all learning easier and more attainable for the child.
  6. This is why I find it so very important for my instructors to spend a great deal of time working with their students to help them understand their homework and current assignments. By integrating the Learning Clinic strategic plan of action with the school curriculum, the student is better able to make a connection between the two and is more likely to experience positive results immediately. These positive results will provide some of the motivation and inspiration needed to develop effective learning skills which will be used to achieve the "desired outcomes".
  7. Therefore, when we begin with the "baseline position", and develop a strategic plan of action which will close the "gap" between the baseline position and the "desired outcomes", the student experiences continuous growth and personal satisfaction. Each time we review the progress of our program, the baseline will have moved to a new level and the gap will be reduced as we move towards our desired outcome. As the "destination" gets closer and closer, the student becomes more and more motivated and inspired because they see the end in sight.

The "Baseline Method" provides a seamless integration of the tutoring program with the current curriculum, thereby helping the student incorporate these effective real-life learning skills into virtually all areas of his/her life.




At the outset of this section let me first of all explain that it is my opinion that "every" child can benefit from the right form of tutoring. As a parent you will be the one to decide which type of tutoring would be best for your own child. I just caution you to be aware of the strengths and weaknesses of each of the options available to you and make an informed decision.

That being said, let's examine some of the obvious things you can consider as a parent when determining if your child could benefit from a tutor. 


If you answer YES to any of the following questions then I would suggest it is time for you to give serious consideration to finding a tutor for your child. 

  1. Are your child's grades starting to fall despite that fact that he or she seems to be working as hard as ever?
  2. Are you finding that no matter how long your child spends on homework, it's neither complete nor accurate, and/or it is not up to standards that YOU find acceptable?
  3. Do you feel that your child is showing an increasing lack of confidence and motivation, tending to give up easily on assignments?
  4. Are you finding that your child is beginning to lose interest in learning and may even be reluctant to go to school?
  5. Do you find that your child becomes extremely anxious before tests and exams?
  6. Has your child's teacher reported disruptive behaviour in class that is uncharacteristic?
  7. Do you feel that your child is capable of achieving higher grades in school?
  8. Do you feel that your child is not being challenged enough in school?
  9. Do you have trouble helping your child with his/her homework and assignments?
  10. Do you feel that your child is developing a negative attitude towards school and learning in general? 

As I mentioned above, if you answered YES to any of those questions, then it is time to give serious consideration to finding a tutor for your child.


In addition to the questionaire above, take a look at the most recent report cards your child has received from school.. 

At this time I would like to remind you that as a parent you should never look at your child’s report card as THE ONLY evaluation of his/her progress. The report card will give you a good indication of your child’s marks in comparison to the others in the classroom, and will be an indication of how your child has measured up to his teacher's expectations, but you must never underestimate the value of other means of evaluating your child’s learning skills and progress. 

  • Prepare your own report card: Perhaps the most important evaluation of your child’s progress is the one you make as a parent through your own observations. I would suggest that you take your child’s latest report card and sit down during a quiet time all by yourself. Go through each subject area and read the comments made by the teacher. Look at the marks. Look at the class averages. Jot down your own comments for each subject, expressing how you feel about your child’s progress based on what you saw during the year. Be reflective and think back during the school year. Determine for yourself whether or not you feel the marks are truly indicative of how your child "should have performed", from your point of view and from what you saw at home. Remember that your child may perform differently at home and at school. You see one thing and your child's teacher sees another side of him.

  • Prepare a report card with your child: 
    The next thing you should do is ask your child to sit down with you and bring along his/her notebooks. Spread them out on the table and carefully go through each notebook with your child, page by page. When you come to a page that doesn’t look right or is not acceptable in your view, question your child on what happened. You should also ask your child for his opinion on how well he did this year and about the marks recorded on the report card. Get him to comment on the marks and to pretty much create a self-evaluation report card. Ask what could have been done to get better marks. You’ll get some interesting answers.  

Now that you have completed the questionaire and compared the "report cards", examining all points of view and considerations, here are some further things to reflect upon as you are deciding whether or not your child should receive tutoring assistance.


It is a well known fact that a significant number of children, no matter what their grade level, consistently underachieve in school. Your child may be one of these underachievers and it may come as no surprise that he may not qualify for special education. In fact, only a small percent of all children who have difficulty with school actually qualify for special education assistance, so these children are left to fend for themselves. For them, school often becomes unbearable and their parents feel the pain and suffering along with their children.

You can find out more about the special education process by clicking on the link below which will take you to another one of my online publications.

I have devoted my entire adult life to assisting young people in the development of learning skills in a wide variety of areas: sports, recreation, hobbies, and formal education, to name a few. In all of my endeavours, be they in my roles as a parent and grandparent, as a professional teacher, or as a minor sports coach, I never cease to be amazed at the tremendous capacity of young people to learn new skills when they are truly interested in what it is that they are involved. Children are born with a desire to learn. Just watch a toddler go from place to place making new discoveries. 

It hurts me to see so many young students missing out on what life has to offer because of the development of a negative attitude towards learning and ultimately towards anything that has to do with their formal education. Often all it takes is the right "spark" to re-ignite the excitement that will open the doors to a life time of opportunities and success. All it takes is the right "approach" from the right "person" to show a young person how to overcome seemingly impossible challenges that they face every day.

Unfortunately, many children who struggle in school begin to devalue themselves and feel that they are intellectually deficient. They begin to act in ways that are intended to hide their weaknesses to divert attention from their main problems. They are frustrated with their lack of success and therefore decide to sabotage themselves even further. They take the approach that if they do not try to succeed, then they are not really failing, they are just expressing their contempt for school and playing a role at which they can succeed. 

As a classroom teacher I came across far too many children who found that it was much easier to maintain low marks than it was to try for high marks which seemed to be out of their reach. They were accepted as being lazy, unmotivated underachievers who had a bad attitude towards school. That was much less demoralizing than being accepted as intellectually deficient. Their lack of effort was what defined them and they were successful at reinforcing their identity.


If your child is underachieving and/or appears to be resistant to learning, then something is terribly wrong and as your child's most important teacher and life coach, you must do something about it. You must provide your child with alternatives so that he is able to overcome the tendency to shut down and accept defeat as a student. Whatever help your child is receiving at school, even if he is among the 10% of students who qualify for special education programs, and whatever help you are providing to him directly yourself, if your child is not responding positively, you have no choice as a parent! You must seek outside assistance in the form of a personal tutor, a learning centre or some other form of help. The educational needs of your child must take top priority and you must take action in order to help change his attitude about school and his own abilities.

Moreover, do not be surprised if your child is doing extremely well according to report card marks and is still developing a negative attitude towards learning and his self-worth. Some times it is the "bright" student who needs outside assistance in order to achieve lofty goals. 

Therefore, whether your child is "struggling" and falling behind, or your child is "excelling" and wanting to surge ahead of the rest of the pack like a spirited thoroughbred, it makes sense to consider putting him or her under the care of a "personal learning coach". I won't hide the fact that it is my professional opinion that the best option out there is to find an individual to whom your child can establish a special relationship and bond with on a one-to-one basis. Find a mentor who will be able to truly understand his special needs and who will be able to give him the attention he needs.


If your child was a gifted athlete, you would search out a coach who could develop your child's talents even more, helping him/her to reach his/her full potential in the sport. If your child loved a particular sport, but was lacking in skills, you would search out a coach who could improve those skills so that your child could get even more enjoyment out of that sport.

As parents we are often willing to spend huge amounts of time and money sending our children to sports camps or buying them the best of equipment with which to play, and yet, when it comes to education, which holds the key to the entire future for our children, so many of us simply allow them to fend for themselves, looking upon struggles, poor marks, or a negative attitude towards school and homework as merely a part of growing up and an inconvenience that will hopefully go away on its own.

So if you are convinced that your child could benefit from the use of a tutor, start doing your homework. Take a bit of time to investigate all of the options available to you until you are satisfied that you have found the approach that will work with your child and with your family.




Quite simply speaking once you decide that you are going to seek outside assistance in the form of tutoring for your son or daughter, you should have only one goal in mind - to help your child achieve his/her education success and in turn his/her career development goals. 

In order for this to happen, every student needs an "academic management program". 

Some are able to develop this program with the help of their family members and teachers. Others are fortunate enough to have their own "Learning Coach" who becomes responsible for seeing to it that this academic management program is achieving the desired results, or is at least moving forward in a positive manner.

As you have already seen, there are many options available to a parent once the decision to seek tutoring assistance is made. In order to make the right choice for your child, you must be aware of the elements of effective academic management and then you can determine which tutoring approach would be most appropriate for your children.

Regardless of which tutoring option you select, your child will be put in the hands of a "person" who is going to become his "Learning Coach". 


The first thing that a Learning Coach realizes is that once a student experiences the satisfaction of success it become addictive. Successful students develop a self-confidence that cannot be put down. They simply approach each new stage in their education development with the attitude that they deserve to succeed and they set about to do whatever it takes to arrive at their goal. They believe in themselves and therefore they want to accomplish more which makes them believe in themselves even more. 

The challenge for a Learning Coach is to determine what it will take to help his student achieve the level of success that will generate the motivation and self-confidence to move from their current baseline state to a level that is more in keeping with their potential.

In order to achieve academic success in school, it is usually necessary for the Learning Coach to address the basic literacy and numeracy skill development of the student. If you do not know how to add and subtract, you will never be able to learn how to multiply and divide. If you do not know how to express your ideas in words, you will never be able to complete essays and assignments. Therefore, it is important to focus on the basic skill development that is necessary for success. 


Even before addressing the core academic skills that must be developed, a good "learning coach" will help the student with some of the key work habits and essential learning skills that will make the process of academic skill development a whole lot easier. These "transferable skills" as they are often called, once developed, will help any student achieve maximum success in any situation. These include, but are in no way limited to the following:

  1. The student must be able to organize his materials, notes, assignments and resources so that he has access to the information he needs;
  2. The student must be able to set short- and long-term goals so that there is a purpose for his efforts;
  3. The student must be able to record his assignments with accuracy and clarity so that he knows what must be done;
  4. The student must be able to understand what must be done and then create a plan for getting it done;
  5. The student must be able to set priorities and keep those priorities in focus;
  6. The student must be able to manage his time efficiently and plan ahead;

Once the "learning coach" has helped the student with these transferable learning skills, it is time to help with some strategies for success. The "learning coach" will show the student how to develop specific tactics that can be employed which will help move him forward to the attainment of his goals.

The "learning coach" will then take full responsibility for establishing reasonable expectations and for giving the student positive reinforcement and encouragement when he meets his short term goals. Motivation is critical at this juncture as the child is attempting to effect change. It is not going to be easy and the student's self-esteem and feelings of self-worth will not change overnight. However, with the right approach, and the right strategies, the "learning coach" should be able to keep any student moving in a positive direction. 

The key is to work on short-term objectives while keeping your mind on the long-term goals. There will be set backs from time to time, but as long as the student sees that he is moving in the right direction and as long as he knows he has the "Learning Coach" to provide him with the support he needs along the way, he will be motivated to continue.


Let me state unequivocally that it is my firm belief and conviction that a ”Personal Learning Coach" is much more than just a tutor! While tutoring is something that a "Personal Learning Coach" offers to his students, the fact is that anyone can be a "tutor". In other words, anyone can show you how to add and subtract. Anyone can lead you through worksheets and point out your mistakes. However, not every tutor is capable of being an effective "Personal Learning Coach". 

A tutor simply helps another person understand specific elements of a particular part of the curriculum in order to pass a course or complete an assignment in one subject area.

A Personal Learning Coach takes the practice of "tutoring" to a much higher level.

In order to help you understand the difference between the services provided by a person who is simply a "tutor" and the services provided by a ”Personal Learning Coach", consider the following fishing story.   


fishermen,fishing,leisure,males,men,persons,recreation,rods,sportsOne day a fisherman was on his way home when he came upon a man sitting by the side of the road with his family. The man explained that he had no money to buy food and that his family was hungry. He asked the fisherman if he had any fish to give him so that he could feed his family. 

The fisherman reached into his sack and gave the man a few of the fish that he had caught that afternoon. The man was grateful for the food. He then lit a fire and fed his family a meal of freshly caught fish. 

The next afternoon a different fisherman was on his way home when he came upon the same family sitting by the side of the road. The man once again explained that he had no money to buy food and that his family was hungry. He then asked the second fisherman if he had any fish to give him so that he could feed his family.

The second fisherman reached into his sack and gave the man a few of the fish he had caught that afternoon.

Instead of leaving, however, while the man's wife was preparing and cooking the fish for dinner, the second fisherman took the man to the nearby stream that was running by the side of the road. The second fisherman then showed the man how to break off a branch to turn it into a fishing pole. The fisherman then gave the man a piece of fishing line and a hook. He showed the man how to attach a berry to the hook and then showed the man how to hold the fishing pole in the water with the hook and berry floating on the surface. The second fisherman stayed with the man until they caught a few fish from the stream. Once the second fisherman was satisfied that the man was able to catch fish on his own, the second fisherman continued on his way down the road, satisfied that the man and his family would never again be hungry.

The first fisherman provided the man with the means of satisfying the immediate hunger of the man and his family. That is what a "tutor" does. He solves an immediate problem. However, the next day the man and his family were hungry again. That is what most tutoring is all about. Most tutoring provides short-term solutions to learning problems, but soon those problems soon come back again.

The second fisherman was a perfect example of what you would expect from a "Learning Coach". Not only did the second fisherman satisfy the immediate hunger of the man and his family, he then showed the man how to catch his own fish and left the man with suitable knowledge and skills to make sure that he would never again go hungry. In fact, the man now had the ability to catch fish for sale to make money to purchase other things for his family. The second fisherman gave the man hope and the ability to make a good life for himself. That is what a "Personal Learning Coach" does.

A "Personal Learning Coach" recognizes the need to solve immediate problems, but also realizes that it is even more important to develop skills which will ensure that those problems never again present the same challenges as they did in the first place.

Anyone can be a "tutor". Anyone can help out with an immediate problem, but it takes a person with special skills and experience to be an effective "Personal Learning Coach".

So when you are choosing the tutoring option that is best for your own child, you must take into consideration that you are trying to find someone who will take over a lot of the responsibility for the "academic management" of your child. 




Whereas I can only speak for myself and what I expect from the instructors who belong to the Registry of Tutors with the Greater Sudbury Learning Clinic, I am going to explain what I have identified as the "essential elements of a good academic management program". These reflect my own personal philosophy of education, and since the tutors who accept placements through The Learning Clinic become an "extension" of me, these are the fundamentals that they have also accepted.

As far as I am concerned, the various elements I am about to describe are equally important. The achievement of education and career development goals is like pulling on a chain and we all know that a chain is only as strong as its "weakest link". Therefore, you cannot ignore any of the elements. If they are all addressed with earnest and sincerity, the end result will definitely be worth the effort.


The very first thing a good Learning Coach must do is ensure that the student has established some very clear and specific short and long term goals. A great deal of discussion will have been done in this area even before the sessions begin, but this is an important first step. Once the Learning Coach is able to sit down one-on-one with the student, the two of them should spend some time to make sure that the goals are clear in everyone's mind. These goals should be written down and kept where they will serve as reminders to the student.

When working with secondary school students I always like to know what kind of career aspirations they have so that we can set some education goals that will help them get into the right post-secondary school program to prepare for that career. Once a student sees a purpose for learning it is easier to motivate him to put more effort into his school work. The high school subjects then become a "means to an end". Once a high school student realizes that successfully passing each high school subject is part of the "entrance strategy" for a career, each day becomes a stepping-stone towards the future.


The Learning Coach will then help the student get organized. Organization is an essential element in the academic management program. Without organization the achievement of the goals will be impossible. 

The Learning Coach will help the student organize his notebooks so that notes and assignments are in proper order and easy to find. He will then help the student organize his work area, whether that is in his room or in an office. It is important that materials, supplies and other resources be in their place and accessible. The student will be able to see clear and demonstrable progress immediately and will actually "feel good" about this beginning step. There is nothing worse than having to face with a messy desk or binder when you are ready to get down to work. We must find a way to make organization a top priority in the life of your child. 

The Learning Coach will help the student come up with a system of recording assignments consistently. He will also help the student set up a study timetable and schedule to follow for the week. This will include specific times for completing assignments, reading and also recreation. The student must see his entire week from the point of view of a well-planned schedule so that he knows when he has time to complete his academic responsibilities. He will also build time in the schedule for social and recreational pursuits. Life must be balanced in order for an academic management program to be effective.

The Learning Coach will help the student come up with a system for "starting to work" where all of the pens, pencils, paper, etc. will be immediately available in one place so that he doesn't have to waste time trying to find anything. When the student is ready to sit down and work, everything should be available at his finger tips. Too much time is wasted "getting ready to work" by most students. 

The Learning Coach will help the student come up with a system that is foolproof so that the student will always have the necessary books and notes available when working at home. This may mean coming up with a plan that includes bringing all notebooks and textbooks home every evening.

The Learning Coach will also pay attention to the distractions that are in play around the house and advise the student as to where his at home studying should take place. He will also get a commitment from the student to remove obvious distractions such as the television, computer, cell phone, etc. Students are usually aware of how these distractions can get in the way of studying, but the Learning Coach will be able to make the student understand that this is part of the overall "academic management program" to which the student has committed. Therefore, because students are for the most part pragmatists, the student will recognize that he must do whatever he must do to "win the game" and achieve his goals. It is up to the Learning Coach to get the student to "buy into" this philosophy and agree to the strategies outlined by the "coach".

All of these organizational skills will be continuously reinforced until they are ingrained into the student's pattern of daily life. Each time the Learning Coach meets with the student, he will review the organizational situation that exists and together with the student will do whatever reorganization is necessary to develop long-term habits.


The Learning Coach will also discuss some very specific strategies that the student can employ in the classroom that will help tremendously to enhance the academic management program. For example, the student will be encouraged to change his seating location if and when possible by trying to sit closer to the front in order to get rid of some obvious distractions. Changing where and with whom he is sitting beside will help with his focus. The Learning Coach will also give the student tips on how to pay more attention in class. 

For example, the student will be encouraged to "look directly" at the teacher when she is talking. This will "force" the student to listen to what is being said. When I was a classroom teacher I used to tell my pupils that if they were looking at me when I was giving a lesson I would never ask them to give an answer unless their hand was raised. I told them that they could day-dream all they wanted as long as they were looking at me with their eyes open. Soon students discovered that they couldn't help but pay attention since one's mind often is influenced by the vision that is being captured by the eyes.

Other very practical suggestions such as taking notes even when you don't have to in order to help retain information; being the first one to enter the room at the beginning of class; volunteering to help out when the opportunity comes up; asking the teacher questions to show interest in the subject; staying after the end of the lesson to get points clarified by the teacher; and being aware of portraying positive non-verbal messages when in the room.

The Learning Coach will also recommend that the student inform the teacher that he is receiving assistance from a tutor and asking for some suggestions on areas that the tutor should be working on. This will clearly demonstrate to the teacher that the student is interested in being successful in that class.

The Learning Coach will also help the student get into the habit of making notes to himself whenever he comes across a concept or topic that is giving him difficulty. When the Learning Coach and the student sit down at the next session the two of them can look over those areas that were causing the most problems. The notes made by the student will help the Learning Coach know what is needed in order to help the student better understand.


Whereas test results form the bulk of the report card mark, the Learning Coach will work with the student to develop effective strategies that can be used to prepare for tests and assignments. A study schedule will be established so that the student is reviewing material far in advance of the test date. They will prepare practice questions and the student will go over those that are most likely to be on the test. 

The Learning Coach will help the student develop an approach to actually writing tests by suggesting things like: doing the easy questions first; proof reading all answers; and, remaining until the very end, even if finished early, in order to spend time to enhance the answers and not miss anything.

The Learning Coach will also show the student how to prioritize material that may be more likely to be on the test. This prioritizing will be enhanced if the student asks for suggestions from the teacher as to what will be on the test. The Learning Coach will also show the student how he can use clues from the notes and assignments to determine what the teacher may include on the exam.

The Learning Coach will show the student how to approach each test as if it were a game. The more prepared the student is prior to the game, and the more training the student does, the more the student should want to "play" in order to demonstrate his abilities and talents. This should remove much of the anxiety which may have been hindering the student's progress. The objective is for the student to actually look forward to tests so that he can demonstrate how much he knows and how he has prepared for the challenge.


The Learning Coach will also help the student get rid of any "self-defeating" attitudes and habits. The Learning Coach will get the commitment from the student that he will never discuss anything negative about the subject or school in general; always look for something positive to think about or say; search for ways to "like" the subject and the teacher; look for ways to take leadership responsibility in class; begin to "act" in a manner that is fitting for the career he wishes to pursue; and to look for ways to get out of the student's comfort zone and to become creative and innovative in the class.

This "attitude" adjustment is necessary because of the fact that the more you "like" something, the more likely you are to be successful in what you are doing. It is all about developing and maintaining a positive attitude without falling out of step. Once again, since the student will have committed to his long term goals, the Learning Coach will be able to make the student realize that this is a necessary step in the fulfillment of those goals.


Much has been written about the essential skills one must develop in order to achieve success in the workplace. The Learning Coach recognizes that some of these essential skills refer to core academic skills that fall under literacy and numeracy. These will be addressed as required in order for the student to be successful in his current grade level or subject area. 

However, there are other essential learning skills that are non-academic, yet they are skills that make it possible to learn new skills and also to participate in the educational and workplace settings which will be part of the student's current and future life.

Therefore, the Learning Coach will provide guidance to the student so that strategies and approaches can be utilized to improve his skills in the following areas in addition to all others mentioned in this article:

  • The ability to work independently in class and to focus on the tasks assigned by the teacher;
  • The ability to demonstrate initiative and creativity rather than always being a follower;
  • The commitment to complete all homework assignments on time and with an acceptable level of competency;
  • The ability to use information effectively;
  • Strategies for cooperating with others and avoiding confrontation;
  • Strategies for resolving difficulties and conflicts;
  • Punctuality
  • Dressing appropriately for all situations
  • Working safely, whether at home or at school

In many cases the Learning Coach will take advantage of "teachable moments" to address the above areas. In some cases the Learning Coach will make it a point to focus on specific strategies and explain to the student how they will impact on the academic management program that they are following.


The Learning Coach will show the student how to perform regular evaluations of his own progress. For example, the student will set aside a time when he will sit down and do a weekly self-evaluation of the progress being made towards his long term goals. He will write a summary or develop a list of areas where he needs to improve. He will share this with the Learning Coach so that they can compare their viewpoints. This will help the student when it comes to seeking guidance from The Learning Coach in areas that may not be obvious to the coach.


The Learning Coach will help the student develop a "problem-based learning approach"  to learning. The problem-solving model is one that can be used anywhere, at any time, in any sort of situation.
  1. STEP ONE: Understanding the problem:
    The first thing you must learn to do when faced with a challenge is to determine the exact nature of the problem. This investigative stage is critical to the entire process. You can't even begin to consider a solution until you know what the problem is in the first place. Therefore the Learning Coach will work with the student on ways in which he will be able to better understand any problem he is facing.
  2. STEP TWO: Collecting all of the relevant information:
    In any problem-solving situation you are given some information or details, and you also bring some knowledge of your own to the situation. Therefore, once you understand the nature of the problem, and you are very clear on the desired outcome you are seeking, you must make a list of all of the information you have at hand that can be used to come up with a solution. This is a discovery process that must be done before proceeding further. It will also allow you to identify information that is pertinent to the situation at hand and to disregard that which is going to be of no use to you at this time.
  3. STEP THREE: Considering the alternatives
    You must then consider all of the possible alternatives that are available and try to select the one that appears to be the best solution. This may mean that you need more information than what you were originally given to solve the problem. If so, then you must do some research to gather knowledge and data that is necessary for the solution. Once you know all of your options and you can identify the pros and cons of each option, you are ready to proceed to the most important step of all.
  4. STEP FOUR: Solving the problem
    You should then be in a position where you can go ahead and come up with the best solution possible based on the information you are given, the resources available and your own skills. At that point you should be able to solve the problem that you were facing at the beginning.
  5. STEP FIVE: Communicating the solution
    Once you have arrived at the solution to the original problem, you must determine the best method for communicating your conclusion to your target audience. Even if you do not have an outside audience at this time, you still must record the conclusion for your own future reference. In other words, you must communicate with yourself. You may have to defend your findings, so be sure to draw upon any convincing evidence that may be needed.
The above five-step process can be used in any situation in which you find yourself. It is all about understanding your problem; becoming aware of all of the information with which you are provided or you already know; considering all of your alternatives and options and then selecting what you think is the best one; solving the problem; and then communicating your findings or solution.

The Learning Coach will help the student apply this approach to his own situations in order to help the student develop the confidence to solve his own problems once the Learning Coach is no longer available for support.


The Learning Coach will involve the parents in the academic management program in the following ways:

  • He will suggest that the parents purchase specific learning materials and supplies that will help the student develop better organizational skills at home;
  • He will show the parents how they can demonstrate some of the concepts by example. For instance, if part of the plan is to increase the amount of reading for pleasure, then the parents themselves can take time to read for pleasure and make sure that their child sees them doing this;
  • The parents can go out of their way to improve their own organization of the house, garage, basement, desks, etc. Organization must become a way of life around the home so that the child sees how he is a part of the entire culture of the household.
  • The parents will be encouraged to provide positive reinforcement of any progress or effort being made by the child. 
  • The parents will be asked to avoid negative comments or arguments, leaving everything up to the Learning Coach.


On top of everything else mentioned to this point, the Learning Coach will always be addressing the core academic skills that need to be developed in order to meet the expectations of the teacher and the parents. For younger students this may mean improving general literacy and numeracy skills. For older students the academic skills may be more focused on specific subjects.

This is the easy part for instructors. You can find the curriculum content for any subject and grade level on the Ministry web site. The links page of The Learning Clinic Education Centre provides a direct link to the Ministry curriculum guides.

Text books and course of study summaries provided by teachers also give you a good indication of the content that will be included in the curriculum. There are a wide variety of worksheets and exercises available on line and in book stores that can be used to develop and reinforce the academic skills that are needed in order to fulfill the requirements of the curriculum.

However, as has been outlined above in this section, success in school is all about "Academic Management". All of the elements described above are important and essential to an effective academic management program. Knowledge of concepts and skill development will not be possible without sound academic management skills. This is where a personal 'Learning Coach" proves his worth to his students. There is no point in spending a lot of time on acquiring "curriculum concepts" until you have incorporated the basic principles of "academic management" into your lifestyle.

The positive development of each of the essential learning skills I have described will make it that much easier for the student to incorporate the academic skills that are necessary to achieve success in school and to get the marks necessary to get into desired post-secondary school programs.




Now that you have sufficient information about tutoring, you will be in a much better position to answer our two "test" questions:
  1. Would your child benefit from tutoring services?
  2. Which of the available tutoring options is most suited to meeting the needs of your child?

The answer to the first question is fairly obvious. There are so many ways that you child will benefit from the services of a tutor, especially from the services of a personal "Learning Coach" who works one-on-one in your home on the development of a comprehensive "academic management" program for your child. Even the best students could benefit from the services of a "Learning Coach" since the essential elements of a academic management program include the development of skills that will be helpful in all areas of life, not just in school. There are also benefits to be had from the other tutoring options, but for the most part those are more concentrated on the acquisition of "academic knowledge and concepts". Unless some of the "learning skills" are developed in your child, the knowledge acquisition may be difficult and short-lived.

The answer to the second question should be a lot clearer now as well. The "Learning Coach" approach is the one that focuses on the entire "academic management" program and is interested in developing the type of skills that will enable a student to "learn" on his own. "Learning skills" are more important than "academic knowledge or concepts". Without well developed learning skills, such as goal setting, organization, time management, recording skills, problem solving skills, etc. it is difficult to acquire the knowledge and academic concepts which are included in the curriculum. And most of the learning skills are best developed at home where your child spends most of his time and where he must come to understand how these learning skills are integrated into every aspect of his life.

I trust that this publication, A PARENT'S GUIDE TO TUTORING, has provided you with the information you need to make an informed decision about a tutoring program that will meet the needs of your child. 




“The Learning Clinic” is my own private practice. It was founded in January 2007 and is completely independent from any other business or operation. We therefore have the ability to meet the unique needs of each child who seeks assistance without being restricted by any other outside policies or practices..

Most of the other tutoring companies in the Greater Sudbury area are part of a franchise chain. This means that in order to be consistent throughout the franchise they must adopt a more or less standard procedure and content base for their instruction and operating policies.  Students will therefore for the most part be required to develop their skills using standard exercise sheets that can be marked and evaluated using a central grading system. Local franchise owners do not always have enough freedom to make adequate adjustments to meet the needs of individual students.  

At The Learning Clinic, our tutors treat each student differently, developing a program that is unique to their individual needs. There are no two situations that are alike at The Learning Clinic, and no two students will be doing the exact same work. A “Franchise Owner” must exert a certain amount of control over local franchisees, and this control has a limiting effect on what can be done to meet the needs of children seeking tutoring assistance. The Learning Clinic has no such limitations.


The Learning Clinic sends a personal tutor to your home to work with your child in a familiar environment. 

Some tutoring companies require you to bring your child to a specific centre at certain times of the day to work in a setting that is very similar to a regular classroom. 

We decided that it was more important for our tutors to witness the actual conditions under which the child works at home. Part of our responsibility is to help our students cope with the normal distractions at home in order to be able to develop the skills necessary to be successful when the tutor is not there to help out. We also tell parents to avoid making any changes in their normal routines while the tutor is present. Our goal is to develop “learning skills” in our students. We want our students to learn how to learn, so our tutors must be aware of all of the distractions that are being faced by the child. We did not feel we could provide effective long-term skill development by working with children in an artificially created environment. To do so would have been just like creating another “school away from school”. 

We also respect how busy parents are in the evening after school, so it makes it much easier if we come to you.  

There are other personal in-home tutoring companies in the province that offer services that are similar in nature to The Learning Clinic. However, these are largely franchise operations and as such are governed by head-office policies and procedures. Because of these limitations it is difficult to offer a truly unique program to each student. Franchises still must ensure some sort of consistency and control over their franchise operators and this is normally going to limit the flexibility of the program.


The Learning Clinic allows a parent to schedule tutoring so that it does not interfere with the rest of the family plans. We work around your schedule. Some tutoring companies require you to meet with your tutor during specific times once or twice a week. 

The Learning Clinic decided that it was important to be flexible and sensitive to the needs of the entire family. Therefore, our tutors will agree to meet with your child on a day and time that will be most convenient to you and your family. This means that tutoring may be on different days and different times each week. This is because we feel that some of the most important learning in a child’s life takes place away from school, so whatever the family is doing to provide enriched learning experiences is important. We do not want to interfere with your role as a parent and will therefore accommodate our schedule as well as we can to allow for tutoring sessions to supplement your activities. We do not feel it would be beneficial to the child for the rest of the family to adjust their schedule to fit the times for tutoring.  

As a "Professional Learning Coach" I strongly recommend that parents find personal tutors who are willing to work directly with their children one-on-one in your own home. While some centers may seem "cute" and "well-organized" they just don't provide the kind of support that your child needs.


The Learning Clinic” has adopted a “Learning Coach” approach to tutoring which utilizes a one-on-one instructional model. You can find a description of this approach by clicking on the link in the previous sentence.

You can also look over the special publication I have developed for my tutors by clicking on the button below. There you will be able to read what my expectations are with respect to the tutoring that is done through The Learning Clinic Education & Career Development Agency. We have nothing to hide, so I invite you to have a look.

Some tutoring companies that operate out of a "center" require you to share a tutor with up to three other students. Each student is required to work on a different assignment page, with the tutor available to answer questions and give direction. When the student successfully completes the page, he/she gets a reward and then goes on to the next page. The pages are all kept in a binder that demonstrate the progression that has been made. This “mastery learning” approach may result in the learning of specific skills that produce good results in an upcoming diagnostic test.  However, we do not feel it will produce the long-lasting skill development that comes from one-on-one “coaching”. 

We help our students “discover” their skills and build upon their strengths so that they retain what they have learned for future situations. Mastery of specific skills does come with one-on-one tutoring, but it tends to have a much more long-lasting impact on the student. The "Learning Coach" approach also takes into account that there are many learning skills that have nothing to do with completing questions on worksheets and that can only be acquired through one-on-one in-home mentoring.


The Learning Clinic” has been able to provide a program that is affordable for most families. As with most things in life, you always get what you pay for. Tutoring is no different. Unfortunately, tutoring is something that many families may not feel they can afford. 

The Learning Clinic has found a way to allow parents to adjust the tutoring they receive to fit their budget. For example, our fee is $216 for every six hours which works out to $36 per hour. This is comparative to the hourly rate charged by the other major tutoring companies in town. In fact it is often lower than other options. 

However, these six hours can be taken over two weeks or they can be stretched out over four months. Your child may need to see the tutor twice a week or he may just need the tutor to come in for a visit once every month. Even once a month may be all a child needs to catch up on some of the important skills that are needed for success in the classroom. 

Furthermore, you can plan on one session every week or two, and when needed, bring in the tutor for extra sessions. You only pay for six hours at a time, so when you use those six hours is entirely up to you. Your child can benefit from a tutor for as little as $54 a month. And when you consider that this is less than a single massage therapy session, it is definitely worth the money.  

You may be able to find friends of the family, or other students who live in your neighbourhood to do the tutoring for less, however, when you consider the peace of mind that comes from the knowledge that you have your own professional "Family Learning Coach" you can turn to for help whenever the need arises, it is easy to see that the extra cost is worth it in the long term.


The Learning Clinic” will not commit you to a long-term contract. Your only commitment to The Learning Clinic is for six hours at a time. 

You are not required to sign a contract that forces you to remain with a program that is 30 or 40 weeks in duration. Once your six hours are up, you have the option of continuing for another six hours or terminating the tutoring. 

A number of our students have been with their tutor for up to two years, while others go through 12 or 18 hours and then stop for any number of personal reasons. This policy is especially popular with high school students who may wish to hire a tutor to help with the last month of school, just before exams. They may only need the tutor for six hours, so why pay for anything more. 

The other reason we wanted to maintain this six-hour commitment is because conditions change in a family and we did not want to be an added burden in times of need. When selecting a tutoring company for your child, you should examine contracts carefully. For example, The Learning Clinic does not penalize you if you are forced to cancel a session for any reason. We merely re-schedule at a later date. You don’t lose time or money.  

Once again, because The Learning Clinic is my own private practice, I am able to offer this service as a value-added benefit to parents. I decided right from the beginning that I did not want parents to hesitate getting a personal tutor for their child merely because they were unsure of whether or not it was going to be worth the money. I want to make it very easy to "test the waters" and then decide whether to continue or drop out. This allows reluctant parents to try it out for a while and see how it works. If you don't like it or change your mind, you are not really out much money. 

I also guarantee that you will not be harassed or bothered to commit to our program if you just call up to ask a few questions. I am a professional educator and a member of the Ontario College of Teachers. Even though I operate a private practice, my main concern is for your child. If you are not certain that you wish to utilize the services provided by The Learning Clinic then I respect that decision.


One of the most unique benefits of my practice is that when you contract for services from "The Learning Clinic”, I send a tutor who will work with all of the children in your family. While most tutoring situations only involve providing instruction to one student, parents appreciate the fact that if they have more than one child, they can request a tutor with the qualifications to provide assistance to all children in the household. 

There is no additional charge for this service. You are paying to have a tutor come into your house for six hours. How you divide up that time is completely up to you. 

For example, there are some situations where the tutor will work with one child for one hour and then the other child for 30 minutes. The parent pays for 90 minutes of tutoring service whether there is one child or two. 

Most franchise companies will charge you an amount for each child. The Learning Clinic does not charge extra for this service. 

This is one of the features that I can offer because I operate my own private practice. When you contract the services of The Learning Clinic, you are contracting "my" services. You and all of the members of your family become clients of The Learning Clinic. "Robert Kirwan" becomes your "Family Learning Coach" to whom you may turn when you need help with education or career development matters. My job is to provide you with the resources you need to achieve your goals. If you need a personal tutor for your child, I find an instructor from my Registry of Tutors who will fill the role on a temporary basis. If you approach me again a couple of years from now for another tutor for your child, I will find another instructor from my Registry of Tutors for you.  


The Learning Clinic” maintains that you CANNOT guarantee the success of tutoring programs. 

While some franchise companies claim to “guarantee” that your child will improve by at least a full grade level from the tutoring program, The Learning Clinic will NEVER make such a guarantee.  

As a professional educator for most of my working life, I can definitely guarantee you that no one can guarantee any level of success when it comes to learning. I will guarantee that your child will benefit positively from the tutoring he/she receives from The Learning Clinic and that it should make him/her a better student. 

As a professional learning coach and a former teacher for 28 years, it bothers me when companies make claims that they can "guarantee" your child will improve by one or two grade levels. I feel it is my obligation to provide you with some cautionary information if you are seriously considering selecting a tutoring company for your child based on the claim that your child is guaranteed to improve by one or more grade levels. 

For example, some companies will have your child take an initial “diagnostic” test which will reveal certain deficiencies in specific skill areas.  The initial test is usually "thrust upon" your child during your first interview session as part of a "free evaluation" offer. As a former teacher I can tell you that when a child is given a surprise test and placed inside a strange room to complete a series of skill testing questions in a given time, the results will not be accurate. Furthermore, the resulting score will usually be far lower than expected. Therefore, as a parent you will naturally be astonished at how low your child scores in a number of significant areas. A program of instruction will be offered that will cover several months of tutoring which will focus on improving the areas of weakness that were identified by the "free diagnostic test".

This program of instruction will include a series of worksheets that focus on the weak skill areas and will be designed to help your child "master" the identified skills. At the end of the program a second diagnostic test will be administered. This time your child will be prepared and fore-warned. The test will be written in a much more comfortable setting and your child will be faced with a familiar style of questioning. This end-test will usually reveal significant growth in the weaker areas, thus enabling the company to justify its guarantee. In other words, by comparing the score of the initial test to the end test, your child will have easily advanced by more than a full year according to the "test tables". It does not, however, mean that your child is doing that much better in his day-to-day program at school.

In order to prove this for yourself, I would recommend that you enrol your child for a "second" session with the franchise company. Have the tutoring company provide your child with another 30 or 40 sessions of instruction in exactly the same skill areas. Only this time you will be using the "end-test" results as your starting point. See if your child improves by at least a full grade level this time around. I doubt you will see as great an improvement and you may actually be able to get your money back the second time around.

The Learning Clinic would rather focus on improving the overall learning skills of each student so that success can be achieved in class. We supplement the work being done by the classroom teacher and are therefore more concerned with helping our students “learn how to learn” rather than “learning how to complete work sheets”. Our approach has proven to be the one that provides the most long-lasting results and is most supportive of what your child is dealing with at school, regardless of what level he is in.


Keep in mind that "The Learning Clinic” is owned and operated by a member of the Ontario College of Teachers. As a member in good standing with the Ontario College of Teachers, my work as a private practitioner in the field of education receives a certain level of credibility that other tutoring operators do not have. 

For instance, I am bound by the same code of ethics and professional standards as all other teachers and guidance counselors. Teachers know that I am acting in the best interests of the students at all times. If not, I could lose my certificate. They understand that I am not merely running a private business. I am “one of them” and as such can be trusted. 

Therefore, teachers feel comfortable about recommending The Learning Clinic to the parents of their students. This endorsement has lead to the continued growth of my practice.


Our tutors are always available by phone or email in between sessions. Often your child may just need a quick answer to a specific question that cannot wait until the next scheduled session. All you have to do is give the tutor a call and he/she will do what can be done to solve the problem. There is no charge for this service.  

Once again, you will not find many other tutors offering this kind of value-added service. It just does not fit within their "policies and procedures". I must comment that one of the reasons I can offer this service is because my instructors themselves are passionate about what they are doing. Many of them are attending Teachers' College and intend to become career educators. They take great pride in the work the do with their students and make themselves available whenever needed. This is the kind of passion that makes The Learning Clinic different from the others.




The Learning Clinic Education Centre, is one of the largest personal tutoring agencies in the Greater Sudbury Area with over one hundred (100) personal instructors available to provide tutoring assistance to students of all ages, in all grade levels, and in both official languages. We specialize in providing personal one-on-one, in-your-home tutoring assistance to elementary, secondary and post-secondary school students. Select the button below that is most appropriate to your situation..

An overview of the main features of our program is provided below as well. This information is also found in each of the individual sections.

If you would like a professional comparison of how the "Learning Coach Approach" compares to other tutoring options in the area, CLICK HERE >>>>

The Learning Clinic provides your child the full undivided attention of a personal tutor. Some tutoring franchise centers have a policy where your child will be required to share a tutor with two or three other students. With The Learning Clinic your child will always have the benefit of one-on-one personalized instruction. Not only will we provide you with a tutor who is qualified to help your child with his/her curriculum needs, we will find one who is also compatible to the personality of your child. We feel that having a tutor you enjoy being with and who shares some of your own personal interests could make all the difference in the world. We set the stage for success by finding the best available match for your child so that there is an instant bonding and the learning process is able to move forward.
A tutor will come right into your home so that you don’t have to disrupt your family schedule by going to an instruction center. We want to make the learning process as convenient as possible for the entire family. By arranging for a tutor to come to your home to meet with your child, the rest of the family can go about their normal routines without disruption. It also means that one or more of the parents are present at all times and can be assured that the tutor is accomplishing the desired goals and objectives with their child. We recommend 90 minute long sessions session so that your child has the benefit of receiving instruction in a relaxed manner. It also allows parents time to discuss the progress of the child. The 90 minute session is broken up into small manageable segments in order to keep the student interested and fully focused. It also allows us time to work on immediate problems as well as progressive long-term skill development.
You and your child’s tutor will work out a schedule that is convenient to everyone. Each week may be different and you can even schedule sessions as often or as little as you wish. We know that families are involved in numerous activities today and we don't want your tutoring schedule to interfere with other important family activities. Our tutors will cooperate with you at all times to make sure that the time and day of the sessions is the most convenient and beneficial for everyone involved. Furthermore, you can schedule sessions as often as twice a week or as little as once a month, depending on the needs of your child.
Because The Learning Clinic is a private practice, we are not required to use “packaged” programs prepared by head office as is the case with many franchised tutoring companies. Instead, we find out what your child is doing in class and help him/her develop the skills that are needed right now. This means that your child gets a personalized instruction program that is absolutely geared to his/her needs. As we are helping your child cope with the demands of the current school program, we are working on skills that will help your child in the future. This approach allows us to work with students from Junior Kindergarten right through to University and College. We help your child learn what he/she needs to know in order to succeed in the school program.


We don't want anyone to feel "trapped" at The Learning Clinic Education Centre. Therefore, you are only asked to commit to six hours at a time. When you decide you no longer wish to continue with the tutoring you can simply stop. You are not locked in to a long-term contract as is the case with so many other tutoring companies  We want to give you the assurance that if you are not totally satisfied with the tutor or the program, you will be free to stop the sessions at any time. It also means that you can schedule your six hours as you see fit. Some parents spread the time over six or more weeks, while others feel that their children need to compress the sessions more closely together. The choice is yours and will be what is best for your child. 
You also have the option of stopping the tutoring for a month or two, or even longer and then you can pick it back up again, usually with the same tutor and at no additional cost. Many of our students take the summer off and then contact the same tutor they had before the break to continue in the new school year. We have also had some students who get help from a tutor at the beginning or end of each semester. Some students have called for another tutor several years after first receiving the assistance of a tutor from The Learning Clinic Education Centre. We maintain all records. Once you are a "client" of The Learning Clinic Education Centre, your family becomes part of our "data base", meaning that when you return we are familiar with your case history.
You have the ability to contact your tutor by phone or email in between sessions in case you have a concern that cannot wait for the next session. There is no extra charge for this service. This is one of the "safety" features we have built into our program. It means that if your child is ever in need of some immediate attention that can be resolved over the phone or with an email, then you can take care of the matter right away instead of having to wait until the next scheduled session.  
When we send a personal tutor to your home, you have the option of having the tutor take care of other children in the house. For example, the tutor may be coming in to look after the needs of one of your children, but if one or more of his/her brothers and sisters need some help from time to time, you have the option of asking the tutor to help them as well. This "Family Tutor" policy has been very well received by our parents who have children with different needs. 
We also provide parents the option of having our tutor come in and work with two or three children who are in the same class. This means that your child can have one or two of his/her classmates come over to share the services of a tutor. Parents may then split the cost of the tutoring services and receive the benefit of small group tutoring that is geared to achieving similar goals and objectives within a much smaller budget.
Robert Kirwan will act as your personal Education Agent and will be available to provide you with guidance and advice on any education and/or career planning concerns you may have. There will be many issues arising with respect to the education of your children over the years. Whenever you are in need of some professional advice or guidance, all you have to do is contact Robert Kirwan and he will be only too glad to help. Kirwan also provides a service where he will represent you at IPRC and IEP meetings
Most importantly, you can get help for your child that is not only effective; it is also one of the most affordable tutoring options around. Our fee is one of the best values around, especially when you consider that we provide you with a personal tutor who comes to your own home for one-on-one service.  

The cost of tutoring services through The Learning Clinic Education Centre is only $36 per hour.

We feel that this rate is extremely competitive when compared with comparable tutoring options in the Greater Sudbury Area.



  • Our main goal is to offer professional personal tutoring services that are affordable as well as effective. The most important consideration should be the needs of your child and not the cost of the service. 
  • To that end, we feel that we have developed a system which will deliver excellent instructional value and which will be most effective in achieving the desired outcomes. There is also enough flexibility built into the system that will allow just about anyone to access our services.


All of the elements of the program outlined above are interrelated, therefore, it is difficult to differentiate the costs associated with each of the components. We have considered the WHOLE PACKAGE when determining the price and we also considered the value added benefits of The Learning Clinic Education Centre Tutoring Program, namely:

  • You control the total cost since you determine the scheduling of the sessions;
  • There is no contract to sign. You are free to end or suspend the service whenever you wish;
  • We operate on a pay-as-you-go system where you are not required to put a large amount of money up front;
  • After the initial 6 hour period, you are only committed to six hours at a time, meaning that you are free to discontinue the tutoring program at any time;
  • We provide flexible scheduling so that you can change meeting times to accommodate your personal needs;
  • We provide you with a STOP AND START feature where you can interrupt the tutoring for weeks or months at a time and then begin again at no extra cost to you;
  • You have contact with your tutor via phone and/or email in between sessions when needed;
  • You have contact with Robert Kirwan, the director of The Learning Clinic whenever you need assistance and guidance.

With everything in mind, we have determined what we feel is a very fair and affordable fee and payment plan which is outlined below: 



  • We feel you will find that the hourly rate charged by The Learning Clinic Education Centre is very reasonable considering the range of services provided by our personal tutors. 
  • Our regular rate is $36 per hour payable in six hour blocks of $216.
  • This rate is comparable to other tutoring options offered in the Greater Sudbury Area, but we feel that no other company offers as many value-added benefits as The Learning Clinic Education Centre, therefore, when you compare the value you receive, our rates are second to none.


  • You will be required to pay for the first six hours when you begin the first instruction session with your tutor. 
  • Payment of $216 by cheque will be made payable to THE LEARNING CLINIC at your first session.
  • All sessions will be a minimum of 90 minutes in length and should be scheduled once a week unless otherwise arranged between you and your tutor.


  • Each installment payment that follows will purchase a block of six (6) instruction hours. 
  • Therefore, at the end of each six hour period, you will be given an invoice for the next six hours. Payment will be given to the tutor at that time unless otherwise arranged through Robert Kirwan. 
  • The total amount of each invoice will be $216 made payable by cheque to THE LEARNING CLINIC.
  • If you want the tutor to visit you once a week the cost will be approximately $216 per month.
  • If you want the tutor to visit you twice a month, the cost will be $108 per month.
  • If you only want the tutor to visit you once a month, the cost will be $54 per month.
  • Therefore, you are in control of the total cost. 
  • However, your child will at least be receiving the support of a personal tutor to help him/her become more successful in school.


  • Whereas the instructional program is geared to working within the current curriculum program being followed by the child at school, there should be very little need for additional workbooks or reference materials. 
  • However, if you and the tutor feel some additional materials would be beneficial, it will be the responsibility of the parent to cover these costs. 
  • No additional materials will be purchased without your prior approval.


  • We are confident that when you compare our program with its many value-added benefits, you will agree that it is not only the most effective tutoring you can find for your child, but it is also the most economical.
  • If you have any concerns about your child's education, please take the first step and allow us to review your situation. We can at least recommend a program that might meet your needs and then it is up to you to decide what you would like to do. 

  • Call me at (705) 969-7215 and leave a message for me to call you back:
  • Send me an email and I will get back to you.
  • If you do not use Outlook Express, you can email me at:
Robert Kirwan OCT, B.A (Math), M.A. (Education)
Professional Learning & Career Coach
Independent Education, Training & Career Development Consultant

The Learning Clinic is The Private Practice of
Robert Kirwan, B.A. (Math), M.A. (Education), OCT
4456 Noel Crescent, Val Therese, ON P3P 1S8
Phone: (705) 969-7215    Email:    rkirwan@thelearningclinic.ca

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