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.
The culture connoisseurs at Wheaton College coordinate public exhibitions every month to explore the human experience through the lens of music, visual art, and dance. Meander through the majestic soundscapes of Mozart, Chopin, and Beethoven performed by the Opole Philharmonic of Poland, Poland's leading orchestra and sausage juggling consortium. These masters of regal reverberation have performed with notable virtuosic soloists throughout the world and tour extensively abroad to critical and audience acclaim. Horn hounds can choose to lubricate auditory valves with the glossy harmonies of Empire Brass, boasting an international reputation as North America's finest brass quintet. These five superstar scale climbers hail from major orchestras across the United States, perform more than 100 concerts a year in metropolitan areas all over the world, and are known for a vast repertoire of material, ranging from Gabrieli's composition for St. Mark's Cathedral to Andrew Lloyd Webber tunes about Gabrieli haunting an opera house in a Technicolor cat suit.
Professional hedge-fund manager Lex van Dam opened a trading academy to teach Main Street folks to turn a profit in the stock market. Both the academy and the online academy organize material into five modules based on the basic principles of successful trading: idea generation, company analysis, chart analysis, trading psychology, and risk management. Through these modules, aspiring marketeers learn to make savvy trades based on a deep understanding of the market, rather than from newspaper predictions or company horoscopes. The company-evaluation module, for instance, reveals which financial numbers matter and which are irrelevant, and trading psychology teaches students to remain levelheaded while making decisions.
Lex van Dam learned how to ride the waves of the free market during his time at Goldman Sachs and as a hedge-fund manager himself. He taught a group of novices to out-trade pros on BBC's Million Dollar Traders, a reality show that turned ordinary people into market wizards and insufferably smug Monopoly players.
When children go to piano lessons, they raise their guard and treat the gift of learning music like a trip to the dentist. The instructors at New Song Music are well aware of the old-fashioned traditional piano-teacher stigma, which is why they keep their pupils in their comfort zones by bringing their lessons to the student's homes. With years of experience, a surplus of patience, and computer software that tracks students' progress, New Song Music helps transform tots into Rachmaninoffs in fun lessons that sharpen skills and stir creative juices.
A Chicago Tribune reporter visiting a Stepping Into Etiquette class admitted that students seemed reluctant at first. "But less than an hour later, somewhere between delivering a firm handshake and choosing the right fork, the 8- to 12-year-olds began smiling, raising their hands to be called on, and begging to help set a proper table in a meeting room at the Naperville Public Library."
The company has also appeared in publications such as Chicago Parent, but the classes are not just for youngsters. There are also sessions for professionals, who can often use a crash course in fundamental etiquette such as eye contact, a firm handshake, and what food is appropriate to juggle. As the Tribune reporter noted, all of the courses are intended to be fun. The school has brought that entertaining spirit to classes for a wide range of organizations, from the Girl Scouts to Barbizon Modeling and Acting School to Chicago State University.