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Parents and Guardians – If your Instagram feed has been anything like ours, you may be seeing tons of advertisements for online tutoring right now. With the new school year looming large on our calendars, and uncertainty surrounding the safety measures that will be in place, it’s a smart decision to research all options and alternatives to supplement or replace the traditional classroom if you want your child to succeed.
You may have heard of the big tutoring companies: Sylvan or Mathnasium. But, to help you make an informed decision, you’ve got to know about them all. Best Brains offers 100% online learning for kids ages 3-14 in subjects like Math and English, plus they offer a ton of other additional programs, including homework help and daytime learning.
Why do we love Best Brains? First of all, Best Brains is an established brand. They’ve been around since 2011, are based out of the Chicago area, and have been developing and perfecting their curriculum for years. They’ve grown from 2 locations to 150 in just 7 years! They have locations around big cities like Toronto, San Francisco, Chicago, and Houston, as well as smaller markets like Baltimore, Atlanta, Washington DC, and Austin. Plus, they’re continuing to expand, with plans to grow in Tampa, Denver, Orlando, and beyond.
Next, unlike others in their field, Best Brains only hires certified teachers to teach their Math and English classes. Certified as in state/province board certified. Their teachers work in public and private schools near their centers, spending a few hours a week teaching classes at Best Brains. They also hire recently retired teachers looking for a part time job. “Retired teachers are some of our favorite staff members!” said Elanor Smith, Marketing Manager for Best Brains, “Our students gain the benefit of their decades of experience, and so do we. We’re proud to provide a job tailormade to let them do what they do best.”
We were also really impressed with their curriculum. Rather than relying on worksheets, handouts, or edutainment, the Best Brains curriculum is based on the same standards and methods that kids learn in their normal school work. That means that success at Best Brains directly translates to success in the classroom, which means higher grades and more opportunities later on. But rather than relying on rote memorization, they instead take a non-repetitive approach, focusing on one concept at a time from a number of different angles. This keeps their students engaged in the work and increases their skills from one week to another. “How do you make math fun for kids to learn?” posed Rachel Eckhorn, their lead curriculum designer. “That’s what I think about every time I create something new.”
So how does it work? It all starts with a diagnostic test. Kids take an online assessment, sometimes guided by a trained administrator, and from there they identify where in the curriculum to place each student so they can start learning new concepts from their very first lesson. With 15 levels to choose from, each with 26 weeks’ worth of concepts, any child can find something new to learn. Students attend their classes online once per week, sitting down face-to-face on their computer or tablet with a Best Brains teacher. Materials are provided monthly. If you live close to a center, you can pick them up. If not, they’re mailed to you in monthly care packages. All classes are overseen by administrators, and they and the teachers will provide you with personalized feedback. Tests are given periodically to track a student’s progress and to identify any concepts that may need to be repeated. “All of our students are straight-A students,” Smith joked, “Because we require an A to pass. Our grading system is a reflection of the knowledge and skills our students have acquired on their journey through each level. What’s important is their complete understanding, that’s what’s going to make them successful in school.”
What are the benefits of a program like this? Between regular eLearning and various extracurricular activities, our children’s time is precious, as is our own, and a lot of parents are turned off to the idea of adding more to their child’s plate or giving them more work to do. But now more than ever may be the best time to give a supplemental education program a try. Here’s why we think Best Brains is the right choice for you:
- Facetime with real teachers. This one is critical. The fact that Best Brains guarantees your child 1-on-1 attention from certified teachers is, to us, worth the cost of admission. Plus, you can request free weekly homework help if your child is stuck on a tough problem or needs advice on a project they’ve been assigned at school.
- Results-focused homework. We know that the kind of eLearning our kids are assigned varies from school to school, but the quality of the work is a big concern for us. Having access to the Math and English curriculum that Best Brains has been using for years to teach kids may be the difference between kids retaining knowledge and just doing busy work.
- They work with kids from preschool to high school. “The little kids love the online learning,” says Smith. “They love interacting with their teachers through the screen.” Best Brains also provides support for middle schoolers, at the grades when, let’s be honest, their work, particularly their Math assignments, can get really, really hard! You don’t have to be a great teacher to be a great parent, so having someone qualified available to help out week after week is a huge benefit!
- No contracts. Want to try out Best Brains for a month or two to see if it’s a good fit? No problem. Their Math and English classes are billed month-to-month and don’t lock parents into contracts. Plus, our readers can have their one-time registration fee waived by using the code FABU75 at checkout.
What if I don’t have a center near me? While they do have quite a few locations, Best Brains is not everywhere yet. Anyone in the US and Canada outside a center’s territory can sign up for their corporate-run online learning classes, which are supported out of Chicago, IL. They also are looking to open more centers throughout the rest of the year. If you don’t have one in your town, maybe you could open one yourself! “Owning a Best Brains center is the perfect career choice for someone who wants to own their own business and work part time,” says Puja Chokshi, Head of Training. “Since we’re doing everything online, including new franchisee training, you can offer the same quality of services that you could before, except now you can reach more kids than ever.”
Best Brains is also fast-tracking certified teachers who would rather open a center than be forced back into the classroom. “Safety is our main concern,” says Smith. “If a teacher can keep themselves safe by running a Best Brains center as opposed to going back to a traditional classroom, then we want them in our family.” Teachers can benefit from a variety of waived fees and freebies aimed at making their new centers as easy to open as possible. “We trust them because they have the training, and the community trusts them because they’ve dedicated their lives and careers to educating kids. It’s a win for everyone involved.”
Does Best Brains do more than Math and English? So much more! In addition to Math and English, each center also offers General Knowledge classes and a fun, unique course teaching students to calculate using an Abacus tool, which strengthens mental math and right brain thinking. Some centers also offer Public Speaking, Creative Writing, virtual summer camp, and virtual day programs. Eckhorn explained, “We’ve spent the last few months modifying our current programs and creating new programs so that they fit best with the online format. I’m really excited for more parents to see what we have created.” The surprise hit of the summer? Live cooking tutorials! “We love the opportunity to teach life skills alongside classroom skills,” said Smith. Best Brains has also uploaded a ton of free YouTube content, complete with supplementary material available for download. “All About Things,” “Practical Pam,” and the workout series “Coach Burton,” were our favorites! And speaking of free, Best Brains also provides free downloadable workbooks designed to cut down on screen time by encouraging journaling and reading.
Want to know more? Candice will be sitting down on the Curvy Couch with Elanor Smith on August 25th and September 1st to ask her all about their various programs, how online learning works, and what it takes to run a franchise. We hope to see you there!