Why Corporations Should Be Promoting Supplemental and Enrichment Education Through Employee Benefits Based on Successes Seen by Sylvan Learning

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The “new normal” of remote work has put an undue burden on working parents and their children. It’s time for corporations to step up and offer these families help for the good of the children, the workers and the companies.

Working parents never had it easy, but now with offices and schools closed, the home office/school has become more difficult to manage than ever. That’s where corporations can step in to offer benefits like supplemental learning that work for the child, the worker and the company.

Emily Levitt is vice president of education at Sylvan Learning, a supplemental and enrichment education franchise with 750 points of presence across North America, and a mother of two boys.

Since the onset of the pandemic, her work has gone mostly remote. At the same time, her children’s school has switched to distance learning.

“My kids are in the same school one grade apart,” said Levitt. “Instead of dropping them off at school and picking them up in the afternoon, I have to check that they’re working and logged in 18 times a day — it’s incredible. Some people are managing, but nobody is enjoying it.“

Employers provide benefits to employees in the form of contributions to health insurance, matching investments into retirement accounts and helping to pay for parking. Essentially, most things that impact an employee’s ability to get to work have corresponding employer benefits that use pre-tax dollars.

So why not education? In fact, employers can legally offer $5,250 in education assistance payments to employees that aren’t included in their gross income, according to The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012. Employees can spend this money on education for themselves or their children, but it’s rarely offered.

According to Levitt, and many parents like her, now is the time to take advantage of this benefit.

“It makes employees more loyal to know their company cares about them and their children,” she said. “That’s huge. That benefit would definitely be a huge sweetener for employees with children looking for the best possible job situation.”

Her company, Sylvan, offers an in-person, monitored school support program where kids can attend a socially distanced classroom with a teacher onsite. Employers can provide this service for working families while allowing their parents to focus on work.

“Sylvan is doing in-person in places where we can, and that’s in almost all of our locations,” she said. “We social distance, wear masks and only allow half capacity. I put my own sons in Sylvan’s school support. A certified teacher makes sure they’re in their classes. They can help with questions and guide them through the school day in a way that provides structure for the students.”

“Working from home full-time while trying to help your kids through school is a nightmare scenario for parents,” Levitt said. “The school support system alone is worth its weight in gold.”

“During COVID, a lot of companies are realizing that schools not only serve the traditional role we acknowledged, they also free up parents to do their job,” said Levitt. “If I have to take 18 breaks a day to log my kids in, I lose productivity. What happens when I have to get up during a presentation?”

Additionally, as the pandemic shifts students toward online learning, even more students are missing skills or not able to stay focused and are falling behind. The need for tutoring and supplementation is greater than ever especially for younger students learning to read, special needs students, or older students tracking more critical thinking skills. The switch to distance learning is widening gaps between peers and also affecting students who may have never needed tutoring before.

Personal learning plans like those offered at Sylvan can help students learn the skills they have missed and make sure they continue to learn what they need to learn in their current grade. What a child needs to learn in 5th or 8th grade to be able to keep moving into 6th or 9th isn’t changing across the board, despite the pandemic.

While employers once only had to offer good health insurance and some commuter perks to appear competitive in the marketplace, they may soon find the bar has been raised for top talent. By offering education assistance benefits to employees, employers can provide comfort and stability for the families of workers, which in turn helps their employees stay focused on work.

“Having a benefit like that benefits everyone,” Levitt said. “It takes the worry and the stress off of the family. Providing a tutoring benefit like this has become a no-brainer for companies that have started to offer it — the parent, the child, the company, the parent as a parent and the parent as an employee, everyone, absolutely everyone benefits from this.”

With more than 40 years of experience and more than 750 points of presence throughout North America, Sylvan Learning is the leading provider of personal learning for students in grades K-12. Sylvan is transforming how students learn, inspiring them to succeed in school and in life. Sylvan’s proven tutoring approach blends amazing teachers with SylvanSync™ technology on the iPad® for an engaging learning experience. Sylvan also leads the way with Sylvan EDGE—STEM and accelerated courses and Sylvan Prep —college and test prep courses. Sylvan supports families through every stage of the academic journey. For more information, visit http://www.SylvanLearning.com or SylvanLearning.com/blog.

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Lauren Turner
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