UPPER WEST SIDE — With students returning to the city's public schools on Thursday, many parents are facing the challenge of finding a tutoring program that will help their children make the grade.
Whether you believe in the power of practice, small group work or one-on-one sessions, DNAinfo New York has found tutoring and mentoring services to get your child's 2014-2015 school year off to a strong start.
We've also created a map of each option so you can see which programs are closest to your neighborhood:
For Math Tutoring — Mathnasium (multiple locations)
Mathnasium's goal is to change your child's poor opinion of math so radically that they look forward to tutoring sessions and even jump ahead a grade level or two.
Sessions are not about offering specific homework or test help, but about mastering math concepts rather than just operation from rote memorization, said Marc Goldberg, who co-owns an Upper West Side location with his wife, Tammy.
Prices vary by franchise but, at the Upper West Side location, memberships for semi-private tutoring, in which a student shares an instructor with up to two other students, run $395 a month (about $50 per hour) for 12 months, $445 a month for six months, and $495 for month-to-month programs. Private tutoring is $125 an hour at the center or $135 an hour in your home.
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Writing tutoring — Writopia Lab (Upper West Side and Cobble Hill)
This nonprofit serves kids from age 2 to 18 years old. Sessions for its youngest students involve storybuilding games and dramatic play, while older kids engage in writing exercises and games before delving into their own projects.
Professional writers lead the weekly sessions and their goal is to create a positive environment and offer constructive feedback, said executive director Rebecca Wallace-Segall.
Many of the students who attend Writopia Lab are prolific writers who want to continue stretching their literary muscles, but there's plenty of room for those with a low opinion of writing, too.
"[Kids] might come in saying my mother made me come here … no one is saying that at the end of the first day," Wallace-Segall said.
The lab is known for its diversity, she noted. Twenty percent of the students are on full financial aid, 30 percent pay a reduced fee and 50 percent pay the full fee of $585 for 15 hours spread across 10 weekly small group sessions.
Girls Write Now (multiple locations)
This girls-only mentoring program serves at-risk high school students and helps them build a portfolio of writing across different genres, including playwriting, fiction, poetry and journalism.
Girls are paired each school year with professional women writers who mentor them and work on further developing their writing skills.
The program is free and serves about 100 students a year; girls must submit their application in the spring and show proof of financial need.
If You Want Ivy League Tutors — Central Park Tutors (in-home visits)
Each of the 14 tutors at this boutique company has at least a masters degree and many either have a PhD or are working towards one. Almost all of them have attended an Ivy League school and many have extensive teaching experience.
The company boasts that it's a top choice of private school parents from Spence, Dalton and Riverdale, among others. If you're looking to hand-select a tutor based on his or her credentials — finding a tutor with 30 years of experience tutoring physics or a French teacher who worked for the Ministry of Education in France, for example — then start here.
While many of the in-home tutors have academic specialties, they also cover everything from kindergarten admissions prep to general homework help, organizational skills and LSAT prep. Tutors cost $125 an hour.
For Students Who Need a Challenge — My Learning Springboard (in-home visits)
If your child wants to pursue a subject not offered at your school, My Learning Springboard offers classes geared toward challenging them.
"Enrichment teaching offers the opportunity for children to explore topics, subjects or projects that are of genuine interest and may not be available regularly or at all within the school day," CEO Brad Hoffman said.
The enrichment curriculum includes coding, creative writing, filmmaking, photography, fashion design, business planning, financial literacy, architecture and engineering.
Students generally are taught one-on-one in these topics, but if they have identified other families willing to join a small group, the company can accommodate that structure as well, Hoffman said.
Rates depend on the amount and level of tutoring as well as the expertise of the tutor, but pricing is on par with other services, Hoffman said.
For the Technology Lovers — Bright Kids (Upper West Side, Upper East Side, Downtown Manhattan and Park Slope)
As a technology-centered company that offers multiple test prep courses and classes on coding, 3D printing and more, Bright Kids has each student working with an iPad from the start.
"We saw that everything is going to be more computerized — all of the state tests," said Bige Doruk, who founded the company in 2008.
The technology allows Bright Kids to constantly reassess where kids are in their progress, she said. At the end of a session, teachers receive and evaluate a report that shares the questions a student answered correctly and incorrectly. Before each meeting, the teacher can re-jigger the curriculum based on that data.
In late September, the company will release an iPad app that students studying for the city's Gifted and Talented exam and enrolled in Bright Kids tutoring can use.
Doruk hopes to eventually roll out this kind of app for all of the tests for which students are studying and receiving help. Inquire about pricing by calling 646-434-1084 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
For some parents, the methodology at these centers is not individualized enough, while others appreciate the academic gains their children experienced after attending weekly sessions that were conveniently located near their homes.
Kumon emphasizes "self-learning," rather than a top-down approach. With Kumon's method, students work on daily assignments that are meant to give them a sense of mastery, according to the company.
Like Bright Kids, Sylvan uses iPads to track students' progress and develop their skills. The tracking continues through Sylvan's online portal where parents can log in and monitor their children's success along the way.
Is there a great tutoring program in the city that we haven't mentioned here? Tweet us at @DNAinfo to share your experience or post it in the comments below.