Understanding that each child learns differently, the staff members of Sylvan Learning’s numerous study centers design custom lesson programs. Based on the results of standardized testing, diagnostic tools, and one-on-one interviews, the staff works with students to help them firmly grasp basic skills such as reading, writing, math, and how to remember facts without tattooing them to their chests. Programs target students in kindergarten through grade 12 and mold to various learning styles, helping kids feel more comfortable in the classroom. Afterschool or summer classes can ready high-school students for the rigors of the ACT or the SAT, or they can help students wow college-admissions officers with their superior writing skills, exemplary test scores, and willingness to arm-wrestle the school mascot.
Since opening its doors in 1998, Language Stars has introduced more than 30,000 children to foreign languages with small-group classes and full-immersion activities. Through a selective process, Language Stars recruits ambitious teachers from more than 20 countries who share a common goal of revolutionizing how and when American children learn foreign languages. Parents and Tots Classes are available for children between 1–3 years old, and Kids Only classes are available for children 3–5, 5–8 and 8–10 years old. Absorbent little minds soak up Spanish, Mandarin, French, German, or Arabic with the help of their FunImmersion approach, learning naturally through games, songs, activities and art projects to help kids finally understand their foreign-exchange imaginary friends.
Despite a close encounter with a hammerhead shark, Learn Scuba Chicago's Captain Bob just keeps on scuba diving. The aquatic expert got an up-close peep of shark teeth on his very first Caribbean dive, yet has scarcely taken his flippers off since. He started Learn Scuba Chicago four years ago in a garage as a grassroots effort to build community. Captain Bob and crew lead diving courses, which range from thrilling dips for beginners to instructor certifications. The calendar is flexible so students can plunge into indoor pools at their own pace at a variety of locations, such as Water's Edge Aquatic Center in Bensenville, the UIC campus, and Northeastern Illinois University campus, with open water dives held at Kankakee's Haigh Quarry.
Sara McIntosh—the master cobbler behind the Chicago School of Shoemaking—draws on more than 35 years of experience in her craft. Among the things that make the school unique is that they teach their own version of the out-stitch shoemaking technique. Preferred by artisans who prize sustainability over industrial methods, that approach adapts easily to smaller shops with very few elves.
Sewing machines and wooden tables await eager hands inside the school. While an exhaust hood keeps the air fresh, students work away at footwear ranging from moccasins and sandals to desert boots. Instructors also teach leather-working techniques that produce stylish jewelry and handbags.
As memory cards replaced film reels, many photographers—both professional and amateur—felt befuddled by the new technology. That's where Digital Photo Academy stepped in. Since 2007, the business has facilitated workshops that explore all aspects of digital imagery, from operating cameras and uploading digital files to editing images and airbrushing realistic mustaches. Seasoned professionals lead the courses, helping understudies hone their use of light, framing, and timing. Students furnish their own cameras, and can tote along any ancillary equipment such as tripods, laptops, and flashes that relate to the course at hand.
Common Threads encourages good nutrition and physical well-being by teaching members of low-income households how to cook wholesome, affordable meals. Classes encourage families to prepare and share nutritious meals, and teach children basic cooking skills through hands-on cooking classes. The organization also fosters an appreciation of cultural diversity through cooking, and teaches children to celebrate cultural differences as well as commonalities.