Growth In The Educational Franchise Industry Brings New Opportunities For Parents And Children With Special Needs

"To get a good job, get a good education." How many millions of kids have heard that from a concerned parent? And in that simple statement lies boundless opportunity for educational and tutoring franchises worldwide.

Many companies offer educational, tutoring, and related supplemental services for advanced students, as well as remedial classes for those who lag behind. Some of the older, more familiar names include Sylvan Learning Centers (1979), Kumon (1958), and Kaplan (1938, not a franchise). Others include Huntington Learning Center, Tutor Doctor, Tutoring Club, C2 Educational Centers, and Oxford Learning Centers (Canada).

Other brands specialize in science (Mad Science, High Touch-High-Tech), math (Mathnasium), computers (Bits, Bytes & Bots Computer Adventures), languages (The Language Workshop for Children), art (Abrakadoodle)) sports and athletics (Mile High Karate, Gymboree, Kinderdance), business (YoungBiz), and even character (American Achievement Schools). These types of learning centers help kids stretch themselves in fun, challenging ways, beyond the usual school curriculum.

But what about kids with special educational needs? What about children with dyslexia, attention-deficit disorder (ADD/ADHD), autism, and other learning dysfunctions? With advances in brain research and learning, more children are being diagnosed as having "special needs." On the positive side, these same advances, along with others in pedagogy and computer-based tools, are allowing a systematization of teaching techniques for this growing population. And where there's a system, there's a franchise opportunity... in this case, to do well by doing good.

The Dyslexia Institutes of America (DIA) was founded in 1997 by Elaine B. Jett. With a doctorate in early childhood education, she recognized the prevalence of dyslexia in the children who came through the doors of her three Sylvan Learning Centers. And in 1999, she opened her first DIA center, in Springfield, Ill. According to the DIA, nearly one in five Americans is dyslexic—and that after graduation from its program, children function better in school. Some then enroll in academic programs, such as Huntington's or Sylvan's. Startup investment is $40,000 to $80,000.

Learning Rx opened its first commercial center in 2002 in Colorado Springs, and has 32 centers in 15 states. The company's focus is remediating the underlying problems of those with ADD/ADHD, dyslexia, and learning disabilities, through cognitive skills training. Learning Rx claims that its students gain an average of 4.6 years in reading skills in 24 weeks. Like many companies in this field, its services are not for children only. Many adults can benefit from the programs and services offered by Learning Rx and others. Startup is $80,000 to $125,000, depending on territory size.

Kumon, founded in 1958, also offers services for people with learning dysfunctions such as dyslexia, ADD, and autism.
It's not necessary to have a background in education to become involved in this field. According to Learning Rx, its franchisees are "a mix of numerous occupations, including sales, marketing, finance, real estate, administration, military, engineering, and education. The thing in common with everyone is the entrepreneurial spirit, their burning desire to be successful and have a business that leaves a positive impact on people's lives."

Published: August 24th, 2006

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