Stowell Learning Center: Helping Students Thrive Despite the Pandemic

“Is this what school is supposed to be like?” a fourth grader at Stowell Learning Center in Thousand Oaks recently exclaimed. 

After working for just a few weeks with Stowell Learning Center, the student’s entire world started to transform and she began to realize that school should be so much easier than it had been.

Her experiences before and after training were dramatically different.

Center Director Sharon Diep recently identified one of the key ingredients that parents are looking for when “wrestling” with bright kids who are struggling in school.

“They want clear and simple, direct answers,” she says, noting that so often parents know that everything isn’t quite as it should be, but they can’t identify exactly what’s happening or what to do about it. Schools and traditional tutoring don’t seem to help in clarifying the picture.

“At Stowell Learning Center, we take a completely different approach,” says Diep. The company builds underlying skills, or “the skills behind the skill.”  

For instance, the “skill” of reading is actually dependent on a dozen or more other skills that have to be in place in order for reading to make sense. Once those skills are strong and efficient, reading becomes a natural process. 

“The best news,” Diep reports, “is that those skills can be developed to make permanent changes..”

How does a parent know when the answer is weak underlying skills?

This pandemic has heightened the amount of attention students get from their parents. Some parents have been shocked to find how hard school really is for their kids. 

Here are five signs that your child may need some skill development:

1. They have slow or poor reading. While your child may be able to get through some reading, it is harder and takes them longer than their peers. They may make many mistakes when reading.

2. They miss information when listening or get very tired when listening. Auditory processing is a key to good listening. How the brain perceives and processes the information that comes in through the ears has a huge impact on academic and social skills.

It’s assumed when a parent or teacher says something that it is understood by the student. But one second grader came home and told his mom that his teacher had taught about “the bowels” that day. When mom asked for clarification about these “bowels,” the boy said, “You know, a, e, i, o, u, and sometimes y.”

Now, that’s a cute story, but if it happens regularly, it may indicate a problem with listening, or auditory processing, skills.

3. They can’t remember or understand what they read. Both memory and comprehension are skills that can be strengthened and developed. These skills are vital to success with higher subject levels. It’s sometimes tricky to tell the difference between a reading problem and a memory or comprehension challenge. With the right measurement tools, it can be done.

4. They can’t “get it together” enough to finish assignments and get them turned in. This one really drives parents crazy! “He’s just not organized” may be covering up inefficient executive function skills.

5. They are working too hard or too long for the grades they get. They may finish their work and get it turned in, but it takes much longer than the other students. Teachers may accept the longer working time and tell parents not to worry because the work is correct. But that need for extra time will impact performance on tests and usually means there are some missing or inefficient skills keeping the student from working as efficiently as expected.

Stowell Learning Center Thousand Oaks Director Sharon Diep summed it up this way: “We help students by making sure that all the skills they need for success are strong, efficient and permanent. Our graduates have gone from struggling, even failing grades, to academic and life successes that would have been impossible without the skills they gained here.”

That little girl who finally understood how school is supposed to be is now on a road to lifelong success. 

Learn more at

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