4D Learning: Academic Success Without Limits
January 30, 2017
Staff Writer, Brown Daily Herald
Senior Editor, Cornerstone Literary Magazine
Every student is different. Some work best in groups, others on their own; some prefer math, others prefer writing; some learn by asking questions, others through contemplation. However, no regardless of the unique needs and interests of each student, 4D Learning has one goal for all of them: to help them learn and succeed.
4D Learning was founded by Dr. Bin Yu nearly twenty years ago to fill a need he saw for quality, effective tutoring. He envisioned a more engaging learning environment, where students took control of their own education, found what interested them, and pursued it without boundaries or limitations. Yu, who has always been passionate about teaching, felt that this was missing in a traditional school setting.
“Kids listen passively in school,” he said. “Parents and teachers don’t know the results until they are given tests or grades.” At 4D, however, Dr. Yu and other personal tutors are available to guide students each step of the way. At the same time, they also point students towards the eventual goal of making an investment in their own learning, building independence and confidence.
Once a student decides they want to pursue a learning goal, 4D provides whatever resources they need, and imposes no rules or limits as to how far they can advance. 4D also creates an environment that is inclusive, open, and comfortable. Students are allowed to have questions, and encouraged to seek help when they need it.
“If you don’t give the kids the opportunity to say, ‘I don’t know,’ they’re afraid,” Dr. Yu said. As a result, 4D is structured to give students space when they don’t need help, but also to be receptive to questions when they arise. In short, at 4D, the focus is on the student’s growth and success, and nothing else.
This positive drive reflects in the joy and accomplishments of the students who attend 4D. Each Monday and Thursday afternoon, kids walk into 4D eager, energetic, and excited to learn with each other. Students who come to 4D often stand out among their peers in academic excellence— out of the top 8 winners in Eldredge Elementary’s 2017 Geography Bee, the top three winners Nathan, Ameen, and Rishi were all 4D students.
4D students are also diverse—they come from different grades, different schools, and different backgrounds. However, each has found ways in which 4D meets their learning objectives. Sarah and Laura, for example, have been coming to 4D for about three years. Sarah, who is in 3rd grade, practices math and reading using 4D’s materials, and has found 4D particularly helpful for the latter, with which she wants more practice. She likes how at 4D, there is “just practicing,” and “no grades or real tests” that add stress or pressure. Her sister Laura is now in 6th grade, and also likes how 4D is different from a normal school setting. At 4D, she works on Algebra 2— materials that would normally be unavailable to her until at least her freshman year in high school. She likes to work on math that truly challenges her, as well as “interact more with other kids and ask more questions.” Laura also mentioned that Dr. Yu was “very nice, pushes us, and is good at explaining math concepts.” After coming to 4D, both sisters noted that work in school had become easier. Originally coming to 4D by a friend’s recommendation, they have now made the same recommendation to friends of their own.
Ava and Frankie, another pair of siblings, have also been coming to 4D for about three years. Ava likes how 4D has “more teachers” available than at school, letting students “ask different people for help.” 4D also helps her “get to work on stuff not in school,” keeping her “one step ahead” of her regular material. Frankie, who wants to be an oral surgeon when he grows up, said that he liked his work at 4D better than his reading at school. Many students at 4D work on materials above their years. For example, J.D. is a student in 3rd grade, but works on multiplication and division. Rishi is in 4th grade, but works on 5th and 6th grade materials. Dennis, a 5th grader, does 6th and 7th grade math.
Ameen, who is also in 5th grade, works on Pre-Algebra. When asked about the challenge, he said that “the work here is harder in a good way.” He enjoys tackling tougher problems, as well as working with his friends. He would recommend other friends to come, even to work on their regular schoolwork. Alex, for example, does mostly his own work he brings from the school. For him, 4D isn’t about the materials, but the learning environment. Because there are “smaller rooms,” he said, students not only focus better, but also “get to talk more” and have fun while they learn.
Students in upper middle school and high school can also spend their time at 4D chipping away at the greater workloads they accumulate once schoolwork becomes more challenging. David, an 8th grader at Cole, said, “I like it. It is very challenging. I like the extra practice as well as getting ahead in academics.” Holland, a freshman at EGHS, appreciates the space at 4D, which helps her focus. “I can get distracted elsewhere, and it’s easier to focus here than if I was at home,” she said. Eli, a sophomore, has been attending 4D since middle school, and has seen significant improvement in his math performance since. “4D is a really amazing place to learn,” he said. “I love the staff; they are very nice and compassionate about helping kids succeed.” He would recommend 4D to any kind of student, for whatever kind of help they were looking for.
Parents have also testified to the effectiveness of 4D’s focus and goals. Gita Pensa, who sent her daughter to 4D, said her work there was “a great experience for her.” She “vastly improved her skills,” so much so that Pensa later sent her daughter’s two younger sisters. Ronitte Vilker also sent both her sons Eitan and Ari to 4D. While her son Ari was “always good at math,” he seemed to “be bored” by what his school offered. However, at 4D, he enjoyed challenging new ways to explore math. “His enthusiasm for math spread to his friends, and now there are a bunch of them who go together,” she said while he was attending. “Watching them there is like watching a bunch of boys relaxed in a club house—and they’re learning. This 4D experience is what I’d always hoped my son would get from school.” Since then, Ari has become an instructor at 4D himself, continuing to help other young students like him learn.
Laura and Sarah’s mother was also grateful for the enrichment 4D provided, recognizing the limit to how much parents know and can explain on their own. More importantly, she noticed that 4D made her daughters more comfortable with “facing new things.” “4D has helped them meet new friends and become more confident,” she said.
When asked to recall any particular success stories, Dr. Yu remembered one student who was failing in math. “He was smart, but just not into it,” Yu said. But at 4D, students are encouraged to find their own desire to learn. Yu wants kids at 4D to come willingly, for the sake of their own growth and development. Sitting the student down himself, Yu explained this, and told him to consider his learning for himself. If he still wanted to come back, Yu said, “call me.” A few weeks later, the student called himself, and said he wanted to learn. Since then, the student made incredible progress. “Math is easy now,” he said, earning straight As afterwards.
4D is also helpful for students who are in high school or towards the end of their middle school careers. Along with regular math, science, reading, and writing materials, 4D also provides counseling for these students as they consider applying for college. 4D students who receive this counseling have achieved universal success, navigating the complex application process to get into their top choice schools, many of which are Ivies or top tier schools.
It’s clear that no matter what a student’s need or interests, there is something invaluable that 4D can offer. It is a unique environment that provides not only a means to academic success, but to personal growth and a genuine love of learning.
If you are interested in subscribing to any of the 4D Learning programs, or if you have any questions, please call 4D Learning Office at (401) 402-0435 or send us an email to off ice @4dlearn ing.org . If you are local, we could set up an appointment. We do not take walk-ins.
If you have decided to register for the 4D Learning program, please fill out the Registration Form by click the button here.
Once you complete the form, 4D staff will contact you to schedule an appointment. You can also contact 4D Learning by emailing us at office @4dlearn ing.org or by calling us at (401) 402-0435 to schedule an appointment. There will be no charges for any consultations and/or evaluation prior to the official enrollment.