1-to-1 Tutoring With Symbols Multisensory Learning Centers Inc.

Symbols Learning

Our team at Teachworks recently had the pleasure of learning about Symbols Multisensory Learning Centers Inc., a now multi-branch & online learning center founded in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 2006. We enjoyed learning about their history and teaching methods, and wanted to share their story with our readers. 

To learn more about Symbols Multisensory Learning Centers Inc. we connected with Rob Wahl, Director of Business Management. Rob owns, founded and operates Symbols together with his wife Kimberley Wahl.  Kimberley is Symbols’ Director of Education, and is responsible for training and mentoring tutors, overseeing resource and program development, and new student on-boarding.

Rob’s insightful answers to our 4 questions (displayed below as headings) are included below:


How did your teaching business get started?

Back in 2004, Kimberley had been working as an independent, private tutor for children with learning differences throughout Greater Vancouver. She had been trained and certified in the Orton-Gillingham approach, which is a time-tested, multisensory, phonics-based approach that was created many decades ago to help children with dyslexia to learn to read. Over the years, the OG approach has been refined and adapted to include instruction in writing and math.

Back in 2004, Kimberley had already been running her private, independent tutoring business for a couple of years, and tutoring children in their homes. In mid-2004, I had just begun the MBA program at UBC. As part of a group entrepreneurship project, my group and I chose to write a business plan for turning Kimberley’s in-home tutoring service for kids with learning differences into a bricks-and-mortar learning center.

Two years later, after completing the MBA, Kimberley and I were married, and we founded Symbols, with the first location in Vancouver. Now, 14 years (and 3 children of our own) later, Kimberley and I have grown Symbols into a reputable business with three physical learning center locations and a healthy online tutoring stream.


What makes your business stand out?

Symbols is different from other tutoring businesses in that we are strictly 1-to-1 (there are no group lessons), and all of our tutoring is based on the Orton-Gillingham approach.

We primarily cater to children who have learning differences (regardless of whether or not those learning differences are diagnosed), and/or children who are struggling with the basic academics of reading, writing and math.


What do you find the most rewarding about your work?

Most rewarding is the sheer joy and thanks we receive from children and their parents when the difference our intervention has had on their academics begins to show.


How has Teachworks helped your business grow?

At the beginning, for the first several years, we did all scheduling and invoicing manually, using Google Calendars and Microsoft Word and Excel. While that worked at first, it was not scaleable. It was too time-consuming, and prone to costly errors, like accidentally missing including lessons on invoices.

When we first decided we needed to move to a cloud-based SAAS solution to use as a CRM, lesson scheduling system and invoicing system, Teachworks didn’t yet exist. The first solution we used was overly-complicated, the interface looked dated, and the company over-promised and under-delivered on feature updates. It was also very expensive.

When Teachworks first launched, Symbols gladly switched in 2014, and I believe we were one of their first customers. The user interface was simple, clean and modern. The support team quickly implemented updates and new features, and was very responsive to any requests for help.

Support over the years has been great. And the cost is very reasonable relative to the features it offers and the competition. Teachworks simplifies the management of our business, and saves us money with features that help ensure no lessons go uninvoiced. We’re very grateful for Teachworks.


Thank You Rob!

Thank you Rob for taking the time to answer our questions! We enjoyed learning more about Symbols Multisensory Learning Centers Inc., and we’re happy to have the opportunity to share the story of Symbols Learning with our audience.

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