H.L.C. Question and Answer Session

In our last post, we spoke about some factors that might influence our clients choosing the private tutoring route and also discussed some pros and cons to consider before choosing any tutoring option for yourself or a loved one.
These were all the reasons we considered when we put ourselves in our clients’ shoes. Thinking about what consumers need and why they need it is key to marketing ourselves effectively, but we thought it necessary to also share with our audience why we chose private tutoring over all other options of entrepreneurial endeavors the world has to offer and address a few Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) we’ve been getting since our launch in October, 2015 – these are a few comments from H.L.C. Founder and Tutor, Hannah Sundari Sammy.

  • Why did you choose teaching of all professions?

Teaching has always been a dream of mine since I was a child. My mother always jokes however that at the ripe old age of 5, my first love was seismology, after seeing Dante’s Peak. Despite my evident career change, volcanic explosions, lava and Pierce Brosnan will forever be in my heart…f480ed3cae97f234d08cc62a8ad6d93f

On a more serious note however during primary and secondary school in Trinidad I always felt as if I did not connect with my teachers. Most of my learning was done at home, on my own, by reading textbooks and articles, watching videos or documentaries and attempting revision questions. At times however in the competitive school environment my pre-exam effort would not always match the grades I received. As a results when I was about 13 years old I was assessed to see if my difficulties in performing academically was due to a learning disability called dyslexia. What that assessment revealed was abnormally high levels of anxiety coupled with extremely slow processing speeds, both of which combined were hampering my ability to turn internal knowledge into written and verbal expressions. (Processing Speeds – check out this link if you would like to learn more!) 

Reading my assessment report was my “light-bulb moment”. I remember thinking that for the first time in my life I did not feel “slow” or “difficult” or “problematic” or any of those negative things children who can’t keep up with the class are told. I just needed a different approach, I needed to train myself to internalize knowledge differently, and instead of rote learning, I needed to be creative when I studied. After this moment I went through school mostly teaching myself and helping other wherever I could. I could never shake the feeling that there were so many other children out there who may not have gotten their “light-bulb” moment – there were student’s who would be held down by classroom labels for the rest of their lives. I wanted to change that, I wanted to be in a position to empower students, teach them that differences in learning speeds and styles are not a burden or an inconvenience. Each and every person is unique, and education should never be associated with oppression or abuse of students.

So, this is my story, and this is why of all the things I could be, I decided to be a teacher…

  • Why Private Tutoring?

Well, as I mentioned before, while I was a student in school, I often felt lost in the classroom. The teaching periods were too short, the subject material was too rushed and very rarely did we do anything but take notes and write exams.947c4712eaed6bd32ce5905a54dead29 This was definitely not ideal for me! Moreover when I looked at the remedial education landscape in Trinidad I found that many persons capitalized on students needing subject specific tutoring and not much services existed for students who needed assistance in reading, writing and general comprehension. In starting H.L.C. I wanted not only to fulfill my dreams, but I wanted to fill a gap and make a difference “on the ground”. Many times people think of influencing policy or education on a national level, but for me, I felt that my place was in the trenches, dealing with clients one-on-one, changing the world, one student at a time.

  • What was the rational behind H.L.C.?

H.L.C. I think is was what my 13 year old self conceptualized but didn’t quite realize it at the time. I knew I always loved psychology, I loved helping my peers and I always had a knack for teaching. When I was applying for postgraduate programs I wrote in my personal statement that I wanted to form an after-school, remedial education center that catered not only to primary and secondary school students, but also to adult learners. I wanted to create a safe space, a secure learning environment where students would not be judged or rushed or made to feel inadequate. That’s the main rationale for H.L.C. – to be multidimensional in scope, multifaceted in approach and inclusive in its practices and services.

Short, simple and sweet, right?

  • What impact do you hope H.L.C. will make?

In one sentence, I hope H.L.C. will lead to more students realizing their potential, growing in confidence and moving onto new and better things. I hope that each and every student we assist eventually stops needing our help. I say this because my job is not to keep students around as a form of business. My one and only hope for this company is that it empowers students to the point that they feel comfortable taking the skills that they have learned and excel independently in the future. Community outreach is as aspect I hope we can branch out into, in the future, as is psycho-educational assessment and diagnosis. For not however, we’re starting small, with growth being the inevitable next step.

We hope answering some of these FAQs were both entertaining and informative. Please feel free to reach out to us with any questions or comments – visit our “Contact Us” page for more details.

Until next time!


Evaluating Private Tutoring: Pros, Cons and H.L.C’s 3-Es

From the very beginning, the Holistic Learning Center (H.L.C.) has had to reason with a major underlying debate: why would parents, knowing that their child is attending school for approximately seven hours a day, choose to hire a tutor privately for after-school or weekend classes? What possible reason could there be to extend learning beyond traditional schooling periods, and moreover, why would they choose H.L.C. as their tutoring service provider? As a result of these questions, we thought it fitting that our readers be informed of some factors that lead to the need and demand for private tutoring options like those offered by H.L.C. and, get an unbiased idea of the pros and cons of private tutoring.

Many factors can lead to a demand for tutoring, or as it is known in Trinidad and Tobago, “lessons” (after-school classes, mainly subject specific and privately run).  holistic-educationThese include those of the institutional nature, such as increasing class sizes and student populations in schools, financial factors such as increased disposable income or a shift in spending priorities which allows money set aside for tutoring purposes, or even those related to a socio-cultural change whereby the introduction of high intensity and high-stakes examinations require supplementary tutoring to ensure that students excel.

Regardless, for private tutoring to be viable, there must be an overall perception that said tutoring is (1) effective, (2) economical, and (3) enduring.

At H.L.C. we call these the 3-E’s of successful tutoring:

  • Firstly, tutoring should be effective or efficacious in nature, in that it must result in overall improvements in the performance and confidence of the student.
  • Secondly it must be economical for clients – cost (financial and otherwise) must never outweigh the benefits of tutoring. At H.L.C. we have a standard hourly rate however we always keep an open dialogue with clients about what we can do to make tutoring options more accessible to and affordable for them. We offer convenient locations, in-house tutoring options, flexible schedules and an array of payment options which can be ‘mixed-and-matched’ to produce the best fit for our clients.
  • Thirdly, tutoring according to H.L.C. should be enduring, long-lasting or perennial in effect. At H.L.C. we encourage and urge parents and students alike to be independent and self-motivated. Our tutoring services are not meant to be a ‘crutch’ that props up a student inevitably or that keeps them forever in need of assistance. Any skills that are taught, be it subject content, academic skills,  or techniques in learning and revision, all elements of tutoring are provided in hopes that students, when they graduate our services will be self-sufficient, productive and empowering to others through education. What they learn during sessions and as a result of our tutoring is by no means meant to be kept a secret or practiced with a silo mentality but shared with classmates, and used for future holistic learning.

Arts_Design_ImageKeeping our 3-E’s in mind, H.L.C. strives through its private tutoring initiative to reach as much students as possible with a uniquely tailored, high standard and person-centered style of teaching. We see an incredible amount of merits to our service and work within the community. As our audience however, we don’t want you to take our word for it – do your own research!

For those who would like to read a bit more about the pros and cons of private tutoring please see the articles below. We found that they offered a good balance of factors to consider before making up your mind about private tutoring.

Learn about H.L.C’s free pre-tutoring consultation! Contact us to see what tutoring options are available for you:

Until next time!


Free Consultation Sessions with H.L.C.

When H.L.C. published it’s first newsletter during the month of October, the Center received a stream of supportive messages. We just wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who reached out to us in one way or another. We are so grateful to our audience and clients for their kind and encouraging words as we set off on this journey to making H.L.C. a reality.

What many people notice when they get to know a bit about the Holistic Learning Center is that this is no ordinary “lessons” service. education-is-not-the-learning-of-facts-but-the-training-of-the-mind-to-thinkOur mode of operations is not about filling a classroom, charging exorbitant fees or catering to exclusive clientele. We are solely about enriching the lives of both student and parent/guardian alike through education and individual attention that the traditional schooling system does not allow for. The most rewarding thing about one-on-one sessions with students is knowing that by the end of it they feel a little more confident in themselves than they were when class first began. Nothing makes us happier than to know that the hour or two that we engaged in learning, critically thinking and questioning textbook concepts resulted in an improvement in a student’s motivation to continue learning.

This is why before clients even agree to our tutoring services, H.L.C. offers a free consultation session.  Many people have asked us what exactly this means, so we thought it fitting to take a few moments to share this with readers.

H.L.C. Free Consultation Session – An Overview

The term “consultation session” is just an elaborate way of saying “let’s have a conversation”. Delving a little deeper, here is some information we like to gain from consultation sessions:

  • Student’s Feelings Toward the Subject or Task

Many times how a student performs in a subject or task depends on his/her feelings toward it. main.h1Mental blocks, demotivation and subject or skill avoidance are just some of the byproducts of negative feelings toward the subject or task for which tutoring is required. On the other hand speaking with students about subjects they enjoy and why they enjoy it can allow tutors to implement some of those aspects into teaching the less liked subject. We aim to detach any negative cognition that students may have associated with subjects or academic tasks and replace these with, at the very least, renewed motivation toward the subject.

  • Student’s Strengths and Weaknesses

Presently H.L.C. does not offer psycho-educational assessment and diagnosis services, however this is one of the many specializations we intend to expand in the future. We mention this as sometimes difficulties in school may result from1359570242325 learning disorders such as dyslexia or high anxiety levels for example. We c
urrently do not offer an avenue for diagnoses such as these. For now however, our consultation session aims to derive student’s perception of their own strengths and weaknesses as it pertains to classroom learning which will in turn inform our teaching methods. More importantly, it will also give us insight into the student’s perceptions of themselves, how they verbalize their talents and
downfalls and how exactly they see themselves improving.

  • Student’s Unique Learning Style and Preferred Classroom Dynamic

During the session, students will be asked about how they prefer to learn
information. No matter the age of the student, we find that each10289428 and every one of
them know what they like and do not like. Some students love taking notes, others like to see pictures. Some like movies or diagrams while others prefer reading and research oriented learning.  In the same way, we have noticed that some student’s have particular feelings toward their classroom setting. Some like their parents to be present, while others do not. Some like to use the computer or other technological devices while others like the pen-and-paper approach. Our aim is to suite the student, tailored to student’s needs and the style of learning and teaching that works for them and provide them with a setting that makes them comfortable.

  • Parent’s/Guardian’s Reason for Seeking Tutoring, Expectation of Sessions and Perception of the Student’s Performance

Of course we can’t leave the parents out of the discussion – this is about you as much as it is about your child/guardian! We like to get an idea of why parents/guardians sought tutoring, what their expectations are and what they believe the problems may be in the student’s performance.
expectations (2)The reason for this is that these insights are our eyes into the student’s school and home situation. We like to know a little about how teachers in school are teaching, what assignments or exams are coming up that may focus our tutoring, what they’ve noticed in the student’s overall functioning in an academic environment and also what their own opinions are of what can help. Very often we find that parents/guardians know exactly what needs to be done, they just need a little help from us in implementing it.

  • Deciding Date, Time and Venue of Tutoring Sessions and Developing a Tutoring Action Plan

Finally we get to setting up tutoring sessions. If all goes well during the consultation and parents/guardians are happy with our services, we move right along to setting up a date, time, and venue for sessions that is convenient. H.L.C. offers in-house tutoring options which involves us meeting students at their place of residence. In this setting student’s are comfortable, tutors often work under the supervision of a parent/guardian and overall convenience is a huge pull factor to this option. Upon request other arrangements can be made of course, but conditions do apply depending on what final decision is made about the location of classes.


The “action plan” is simply a strategy for each session based on the information received. This depends on the overall expectation for tutoring sessions directed toward taking students successfully through to an examination will of course be differently planned from those concerned with improving skills such as reading or writing.

We aim to take all information received during consultation sessions and create a best-fit tutoring session for students. Education works best when it’s collaborative, and that’s exactly what H.L.C.’s free consultation session aims to do.

Contact us today to set up a consultation and find out what tutoring options are available for you:

Until next time!


The Holistic Learning Center and “Pro-Bono” Work

A Note from Hannah Sundari Sammy (Founder and Tutor, H.L.C.)

This week, I had two experiences which really made me think about “pro-bono” work and volunteering professional services to interested clients. On this topic I’m a bit torn between getting my business off the ground financially and reaching out to clients and assisting those students who are truly interested in improving themselves academically.

As a start-up company, and more dismally so, one revolving around education (which is free in Trinidad and Tobago), I often wonder when it comes to marketing, why would people choose to pay money for HLC’s services, and what will make private tutoring, remedial classes and academic skills training desirable to customerspro-bono-and-community? In answering these questions I decided to include the elements of inclusiveness and flexibility to the Holistic Learning Center’s portfolio.

Individualized sessions, uniquely tailored classes and the convenience of choosing the location, time, number of sessions and even cost per session are elements not present in the traditional school system where students participate in (or passively observe) a “hit-or-miss” type of learning experience. This “one size fits all” mode of operation creates an academic environment where students are prone to falling through the cracks, being left behind and at times pushed along through the “conveyor belt” class system which evidently lacks quality control. Countless times I have encountered students who’s chronological age did not match their mental age, nor their academic stage of development.

In a class of 15 children, I once had an 8 year old student, who had the writing and mathematical reasoning ability of a 4 year old, and a 7 year old who had the cognitive abilities and speed of processing information of a 12 year old. At that point I remember asking myself how exactly is a teacher, without any type of assistant in the classroom supposed to deal with such a large disparity of students, who were placed into the same class at school based solely on their chronological age. I asked the 8 year old how he was had reached to this stage in school and still did not know how to write or read properly. He replied a simple truth, that in class, teachers never had time for him, and that most days he just got frustrated and gave up…

It was experiences like that, as well as my own personal trials in school that really made me question how much of a benefit the traditional school system was. In the same way, these observations pushed me to dream about making the Holistic Learning Center a reality.


This is why, while the Center is a business endeavor for me, I am not sure if at all times it can function like a business, in the truest sense. When I decided to leave my full time job and commit 100% to this dream I had of creating an inclusive and productive learning environment for students I knew that the chances of making a large profit was unlikely. At the very least, I would be able to eat 3 square meals a day, while at most, I’ll be able to truly make an impact in students’ lives and empower them to reach their highest academic potential.

The dilemma of pro bono (for free) vs. pro rata (pay as you go) begins when one considers the latter – what does it take to make an impact in a students’ lives; how far will one go to make that impact. Do you only assist clients who can pay your fee or do you help everyone in need regardless of if they can pay or not? What do I say to a mother who calls about her child needing assistance, who also follows that statement with “I’m sorry I cannot afford your services”…

At the Holistic Learning Center we try to negotiate as much as possible with our clients – hence flexibility. We also try our best to cater to all, impartially, with our underlying mantra being “Making Time for You”. So, when I get a call from a prospective client the first thing I ask is, what can the Holistic Learning Center do for you, tell us what you need from us and let’s see what we can arrange. We always encourage an open dialogue with our clients, especially on “taboo” subjects like the fees attached to sessions. So talk to us, we’re here to help as best we can and we’re growing and understanding new things, the same as you are.


In conclusion yes, we do “pro-bono” and volunteer work and aim to participate in community outreach as much as we can. On the other hand we also charge a standard fee for sessions that clients are free to discuss and negotiate with us. This is just a fraction of what needs to be discussed however, the real matter on our mind is the education our students receive, creating awareness about educational issues and starting a conversation about how the Holistic Learning Center can empower you, through education.

Contact us today to set up a consultation and find out what tutoring options are available for you:

Until next time!


H.L.C. Monthly: October 2015

Here’s what you’ll find inside October’s Issue!

  • The Mind Behind the Holistic Learning Center
  • Holistic Learning Center: Our Goals and Vision for the Future
  • Making Remedial Education Work
  • General Updates: Our Private Tutoring Initiative

    Sneak Peak

We’re offering our non-subscribed readers unlimited access to our first issue of H.L.C. Monthly! We recommend however that interested readers subscribe to our  FREE Mailing List (below) to receive future issues of this newsletter.

Download the October 2015 Issue of “H.L.C. Monthly”

Subscribe to our Mailing List – it’s free, easy and convenient!

If you’d like to receive an issue of H.L.C. Monthly, please subscribe to ouSignupr mailing list. We not only publish newsletters, but send general updates and useful information about the Center as it evolves. Scan the QR Code with your smartphone or Click Here to go directly to the subscription form.

Until next time!


Private Tutoring at the Holistic Learning Center

Private Tutoring Flyer [Click to Download]
Holistic Learning Center (HLC) has started a Private Tutoring initiative, as it takes steps toward it’s vision for the future. Specifically, HLC has hopes of branching off into offering remedial and adult education services, special and inclusive education options as well as a center specializing in psycho-educational evaluation and diagnosis.

At present, our tutoring services involve subject-specific option as well as skills-based tutoring in areas such as reading, writing, comprehension and general homework assistance. the latter of these services is geared toward Primary School students while tutoring in particular subjects is targeted to Secondary School students, writing the CSEC and CAPE/GCE examinations.

Tutoring may take place ‘in-house’ (at students’ place of residence) in the presence of a parent/guardian or can be conducted at a mutually convenient location. The Holistic Learning Center has maintained linkages with local businesses and other classroom-type settings that can be rented for sessions. The cost of tutoring sessions vary on subject material, hours of teaching and can be adjusted based on the budget of our students.

We are extremely flexible with these details, as our priority is education and enhancing the students we cater to. We hold the well being of our students in high regard, and take a fully collaborative approach with both parent and student. Our classes are based around understanding and fostering critical thinking and as such rarely will students be required to sit for hours writing notes or memorizing information. Our system is simple: during teaching sessions, students will engage in interactive sessions, utilize multimedia technology and focus solely on understanding and internalizing what is taught. After teaching is over, both students and parents are sent supplementary materials, notes and take home assignments which will assist in out-of-class learning and revision.

At the Holistic Learning Center, we do only a fraction of the work. The bulk of learning takes place external to the classroom, during revision and practice periods. This is why we at HLC aim to involve parents as much as possible, communicating as much as possible and ensuring that any noteworthy information or observations about students are passed on to parents.

This is just the first of many initiatives HLC aims to launch. We are a relative new company, aiming to enhance the quality of education that students receive, which raising awareness about education related debates and issues, encouraging our audience to constantly question and shape their educational experience. We believe that everyone has the ability to achieve academically, regardless of age, educational background, learning styles or speeds. Our motto is “Making Time for You” – and we intend to do just that!

Contact us today to set up a consultation and find out what tutoring options are available for you:

Until next time!