Here’s a quick look at some Frequently Asked Questions that will help you get to know Banyan Tree!

Are you a school?

The Learning Center is not a school.  We identify the root of the problems, and work to help students overcome learning challenges. Our students attend public or private schools, or may need support when enrolled in a home school or independent learning program.

However, Banyan Tree does have three school programs. Compass Academy is a private school that provides flexible scheduling and attendance options, using blended, accredited online curriculum, and an opportunity to address any learning challenges within the school day. Excelsior Academy and Foundations Academy are CDE certified nonpublic schools. Foundations Academy services students who have more significant learning disabilities, most often placed by school districts as part of the continuum of services.


 How is educational therapy different than tutoring?

Educational therapy takes a “whole child” approach, addressing the academic, social and emotional needs of each student.  We work as a team with parents, teachers, and other professionals to provide the “just right” level of support or intervention needed to reach individual goals. Finding the root of the problem guides the intervention for each student. The educational therapist and staff work to develop and strengthen the areas that build confidence and efficiency in learning.


What is the difference between educational therapy and tutoring?

Tutoring involves working with a particular subject to improve knowledge and skills. Tutors are generally excellent teachers in their area of expertise. But they usually do not have specialized education or experience with learning challenges.

Educational therapists usually have degrees in special education or counseling, in addition to a Master’s in education and specific training as an educational therapist. The goal of the educational therapist is to work with the whole child, to determine strengths and weaknesses in processing, study skills, and academics, and work as a case manager to coordinate services with the school and other professionals.

At Banyan Tree Learning Center, an educational therapist conducts evaluations and diagnostic assessments, determines the correct approaches for instruction, and monitors progress while working with the student. If a student works with one of our trained instructors on a specific program, the educational therapist is responsible for communicating progress to parents and school personnel.


What are foundational programs?

Teachers and tutors work with a specific subject, assuming that a student processes information in an efficient way. But sometimes students have uneven learning profiles, and this causes a discrepancy between the student’s potential and actual academic performance. Foundational programs strengthen memory, attention, visual and auditory processing, auditory skills, logic and reasoning skills, language and sensory integration. Learning is easier when these processing skills are working efficiently. The latest brain research indicates that the “plasticity” of the brain makes it possible to retrain pathways that result in improved performance.

Some of our Foundational Programs include: Fast ForWord, which addresses language and reading skills; PACE, which addresses auditory, visual, and working memory, attention, logic and reasoning, phonemic awareness, and processing speed; Interactive Metronome, which addresses attention, sequencing, planning, and timing; Samonas Sound Therapy and Moyers Learning Systems,  which addresses attention, language, reading, phonemic awareness, anxiety/stress, sensory integration, gross and fine motor; Brain Gym, which addresses focus and attention, regulation, sensory integration..


How is it determined which program to use for students who struggle with reading and spelling, or have been identified with dyslexia?

It is important that instruction be comprehensive and systematic, and works with a student’s learning style. Orton Gillingham based programs include: Lindamood Bell LiPS, Visualizing Verbalizing, Wilson Reading  Program, Master the Code, and Project Read. For students who learn better by association, or those with severe memory and sequencing problems, Stevenson Language Program may be considered.  Assessment and previous instructional success or failure helps to determine the best program for each student.


How long will it take for my child to “catch up” with the class?

Every student is an individual, and rates of learning vary. But generally about 100 hours of instruction can help a student gain 1-2 years in reading, spelling, writing or math. The more intensive the instruction, (at least 3 hours per week) the more significant the gains. Retraining the brain takes frequency and consistency. Ideally, students should come daily for 3-4 months when they have more severe learning problems. We work with the family, the goals, the extra-curricular activities, and student motivation to determine the time and approach that best meets the needs of the student.

Learning disabilities CAN be overcome with the right instruction and by adopting strategies to make learning easier. Often, after the intensive work of learning to read or write, additional assistance is needed to reinforce skills, help students keep up with the curriculum, and complete the amount of work expected in school. Educational therapists can then see students for 1-2 hours a week, or as needed to deal with specific issues.


What types of assessments are used?

Assessments for learning problems and learning disabilities range from complimentary screenings in processing skills, or attention and timing skills, to diagnostic assessments in reading, spelling, written language, math, and study/organizational skills. In depth assessments include psychoeducational evaluations, sensory integration evaluations, or speech/language evaluations, if they are needed. Our team approach to handling complex issues assures that the student can be assessed in all areas at one of our locations. Previous private assessments and school assessments are also used.


What is the cost for these programs and is there any source of funding?

Fees will always be covered by our Director at your initial meeting. We suggest that parents obtain funding by using credit cards, pre-tax dollars from employee accounts, or in some cases, applying to nonprofit organizations for assistance, particularly when the student requires very intensive work. We are in the process of applying for Sallie Mae assistance for our clients. Occupational therapy and speech therapy are generally covered by insurance when parents seek reimbursement. Some of our Foundational Programs may be covered by insurance under Speech Therapy and/or Occupational Therapy. Tax credit is available for tutoring and educational intervention when the student has been diagnosed with learning disabilities.


Will the school district pay for these services?

Banyan Tree Learning Center is certified by the California Department of Education as a Nonpublic Agency. This means that we can contract with school districts to serve students. Districts are making great efforts to appropriately address the needs of the students they serve. However, there are times when a student needs a different environment, or requires more intensive services than can be offered on a school campus, or needs a program not offered by the district.  The IEP team may then determine that the best place to address those needs is a nonpublic agency. They will then contact Banyan Tree about providing those services.


How is Banyan Tree Learning Center different than franchised tutoring centers?

 Banyan Tree Learning Center is privately owned and operated. Therefore, we have the flexibility to look for and implement new programs, allow our students to benefit from the latest brain research as it relates to learning, and custom design a program for each student or adult who enters our Centers. We have a team approach to more complex learning problems, and we can offer intervention in processing skills, academics, speech/language and social skills, occupational therapy and sensory integration techniques, all at one location!  (This is a tremendous help to parents, who can avoid driving all over town for services!) Students may receive help with a specific subject, but they are also taught how they LEARN best. So study skills, self-advocacy, and a wealth of strategies are tools students can go home with, in addition to help with classwork or remediation of disabilities.


Please give us a call with any additional questions you may have!