Frequently Asked Questions
QUESTIONS ABOUT THINKING CAP ONE-ON-ONE SESSIONS:
+ How long are 1-1 sessions?
We require students to meet with us a minimum of twice a week for 50 minute sessions. Extending session times and frequency is assessed on a case by case basis.
+ How much do 1-1sessions cost?
We determine session costs on a case by case basis by evaluating the severity of learning needs as well as the projected weekly frequency of sessions. Our initial consultation is always free at which time a cost for possible assessments and session costs will be determined.
+ How long will it take to see improvement?
Remediating a learning or attention deficit is a long-term process that in some ways never ends. Our goal is to provide targeted, customized learning opportunities that will arm each student with the appropriate tools to be successful in school. To that end, some deficits can be reduced or even eliminated while others require a student to learn techniques to work around the deficit. Either way, improvement is incremental and time consuming. Because our learning plans are goal oriented, we create a system for students to see their goals and track their progress during every session. With that stated, past experience shows us that most Thinking Cap students work with us for a period of two to three school years.
+ What does a 1-1 session look like?
Students meet with their Thinking Cap learning specialist one-on-one for approximately 50 minutes in each session. After a review of previous assessments, Thinking Cap assessments and classroom observations, each Thinking Cap learning specialist devises a customized, goal oriented learning plan drawing from a variety of curriculums and materials. As new students come to us we purchase materials that will best fit the student’s learning style and needs. During the course of a session a student can expect to review previous concepts, practice current concepts and learn new concepts in a systematic fashion that aims for mastery before moving on to a new concept. Within this framework, we try to incorporate activities and games that engage as many senses as possible as we believe the more senses used, the better a student can engage with and retain new concepts. We primarily follow an Orton-Gillingham philosophy of teaching which means providing a very systematic, sequenced, multi-sensory learning experience at all times.
+ Why do you do assessments?
Since Thinking Cap learning specialists customize learning plans for each student, it is imperative that we target specific learning challenges beyond, “having a really hard time with reading or math.” We are happy to accept previous assessments and teacher input that we can supplement with further assessment of our own when needed. Within the course of a student’s sessions, the learning specialist will also informally assess the student’s progress to gauge pace and timelines for introducing new concepts.
+ My child gets so emotional when learning gets hard. How will you work with that?
Though school learning is primarily seen as a cognitive process, there is no doubt that emotional state plays a significant role in a student’s relative success. As highly trained learning specialists, we work with students not only on the academic part of learning but also on moving past the emotional damage that may be present due to years of school failure. This can be as simple as words of encouragement or a complex plan to help boost learning self-esteem and re-establish a growth mind-set. At times sessions are modified to allow for more conversation and reflection about the student’s specific deficits or challenges. When a student finishes their time with Thinking Cap we hope that they are not only capable learners but also confident learners who accept their strengths and weaknesses.
THINKING CAP SCHEDULING AND PAYMENT QUESTIONS:
+ Do I sign a contract for services?
Thinking Cap provides a contract for services that covers options for assessments, cost and session frequency for each student. Once a contract has been signed and returned, a space is guaranteed for your student for the duration of the contract.
+ Where do sessions meet?
Thinking Cap learning specialists are available to meet at your student’s school upon permission from the school administrator or at our offices at 103 South 8th. Meeting location and times are arranged between the family and the learning specialist. We do our best to meet your scheduling requests but appreciate your flexibility.
+ What if I need to cancel a session?
School Year Policy: Thinking Cap has a VERY strict cancellation policy. Please cancel sessions at least 24 hours in advance to avoid being charged. In addition, please give your student’s learning specialist a list of any preplanned absences at the beginning of the summer or fall session.
Summer Policy: During the summer (June-August) we ask that you agree to a set number of sessions. Once the sessions have been scheduled, you should expect to be charged for all the sessions on the schedule whether your child attends them or not.
We like to think that we are flexible with scheduling, but we also must be firm about cancellations. Several last minute cancellations tend to happen during cold and flu season and last minute summer trips. Unfortunately, these are not exceptions to the cancellation policy. Consistency and repetition are key elements to changing one’s learning skills. It is important that students are able to attend regularly scheduled sessions.
+ What's the process for rescheduling?
Thinking Cap is a small business so we tend to fill all our available session spots quickly. This leaves very little time for rescheduling missed sessions. The option to reschedule a missed session is at the discretion of each learning specialist and is not guaranteed. Because we see students one-on-one, your student will not lose out on any learning opportunities by missing a session but will miss out on his or her continuity of learning. We pick up where we left off at the end of the previous session no matter when it was. From time to time there is the option to have a substitute learning specialist if needed. We feel that the relationship between each learning specialist and her student is important and so we don’t like to use a substitute unless absolutely necessary. Substitutes will only be used after consultation with the student’s parents.
+ School Year vs. Summer Scheduling
Most Thinking Cap students meet two or three times per week for 50 minutes sessions through the school year. In the summer, our goal is to put together at least 12 sessions over the course of the summer. Summer sessions can be for 50 or 80 minutes in length. We ask for a commitment to a minimum of two sessions per week at any time of the year.
+ How do I pay for sessions?
The per-session fee for your student is listed in your contract. Billing is done through our Teachworks system at the end of each month. Payment is expected upon receipt of the bill and no later than the fifth of the following month. You may choose to pay through Teachworks, give us a credit card to hold on file or send Thinking Cap a check. Some families have multiple sources paying for their student’s sessions. In this case the contract to the family will reflect the full per-session cost and monthly invoices will be sent to all parties responsible for payment reflecting only their portion of the session costs.
+ How will I find out how my child is progressing?
We make a point to offer informal email updates on your student’s progress at least once per month. Two to three times per year we will provide a more formal update about progress reflecting assessments completed during sessions and progress towards stated learning goals. We are always open to additional parent meetings and/or meetings with school personnel.
+ What if I need to speak directly to my child’s learning specialist?
General communication with your child’s learning specialist can be done through email, text or phone calls as well as scheduled meetings. Your child’s learning specialist will provide you with her direct phone and email contact information.
+ Complaints and Comments
We hope that you are always satisfied with your experience with Thinking Cap, but we understand not everything can go perfectly all the time. If for any reason you or your child is dissatisfied with our services please contact us immediately. Working on a learning challenge is by no means an easy process for student or family and we will do our best to make appropriate changes if possible. Conversely, we definitely want to hear from you when things are going well! Those of us in the teaching profession often don’t hear about successes until long after we finish working with a student. We would love to hear of any way we may have created a positive change in your child’s life at any time now and in the future.
+ What is the assessment process?
If you would like Thinking Cap to complete an assessment, the first step is to contact us for a free consultation. At this meeting we will determine what sort of assessment is the best fit for your child. Once we have a plan in place, we will arrange an observation time of your child in the classroom to happen before the assessment takes place if possible. Next we will schedule times for the assessment to take place (approximately 6 hours total). All assessments are done at our office. We strongly suggest choosing days and times when you know your child will be at his/her best, even if this means missing school for a few hours. Once the assessment is completed expect about a month between the assessment completion date and when we can sit down with you and review .
+ What assessment tests do you use?
For a full psycho-educational assessment, we primarily use a standardized test called the Woodcock Johnson IV (WJIV). The WJIV assessment is one of two globally recognized assessments that are used in our line of work. The other is the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC). There are two parts to the WJIV: cognitive and achievement. The cognitive portion of the test assesses a student’s memory, processing speed, general intellectual ability and auditory and visual processing. The achievement portion of the test assesses a student’s performance in reading, writing and math. In addition, based on what we see during the assessment we may augment with tests specific to a particular area of deficit such as memory, phonemic awareness, reading fluency and written communication.
+ How long does the full assessment take?
Plan on a minimum of six hours. We will break the assessment up into a minimum of 90 minute increments but we find most students can handle two or three hour sessions at a time. We watch closely to see when a student might need a break and allow breaks as often as necessary. If for any reason we feel that a student is not at his/her best we will discontinue testing. Similarly, we would rather reschedule an assessment session than work with a child who is not feeling well or is overly tired.
+ How do I tell my child about this test so s/he won’t be scared?
The best way to describe this process, especially to younger children, is to describe the assessment as a series of activities (not tests) that will help us better understand how your child’s brain works best. This will help us best understand how to help out for those parts of school that are challenging. For older students who have experienced standardized testing in the past, it’s best to let them know that this set of assessments will feel very different than previous standardized tests taken at school. Our assessment will focus on learning more about how the brain works when learning.
+ Who administers the assessment?
All assessments are administered by Chelsea Wessel Sloan, Thinking Cap’s owner. She is a Board Certified Educational Therapist who is formally trained in administering and interpreting psycho-educational assessments. In cases where a diagnosis of a learning disability is in question, we collaborate with psychologist, Dr. John Platt.
+ Can my child have drinks and snacks?
Yes! Please do send your child with any snacks and drinks that you think will help them perform their best. We do ask that you not send heavily sugared snacks and drinks.
+ Can I sit in on the assessment?
No. Though some children are nervous when they arrive for the first assessment session, we find that we do not get accurate measures of a child’s capabilities when the parent is sitting in the room. You are welcome to wait in our lobby or come back at the end of the assessment session.