I worked for Sylvan Learning Centers for 5 years. Their mode of delivery is excellent. Their programs are very expensive. I would suggust going to their website and see if they are offering any "specials" for their assessments. Often time you can get their full assessment for $100.00. I would not pay any more than that. Once you get your assessment, then you can go in and speak to their Center Director. Please remember that education is an emotional subject for most parents and Sylan know this. Take the results home with you along with their financial estimate and do some comparing. If they recommend more than a 72 hour program , don't do it. Its called "Packing Hours". For a first grader than had no LD's and could not read a word, within 72 hours of tutoring they should be able to read quite well.
Kid Angel Foundation
My opinion based on first-hand experience (three of my kids have used Sylvan) is that it is NOT a waste of money and it can help. However, my youngest daughter did not really latch onto reading until well into second grade, and what made the difference more than tutors was a good book. For my kids, that usually meant Harry Potter.
Once each of them found something they really wanted to read, they really learned to read. Sylvan may have helped with the mechanics, but the right book will make a bigger difference, in my opinion.
It depends on if your child has a learning difference or not! If your child has a learning difference and is struggling with reading then your first grader is going to need a more specialized program. One-on-one is always best and with a very trained reading teacher is important. Make sure the program suits your child's needs. Make sure it is a very structured, systematic and cumulative program. Your child needs to first have the reading gaps identified and then filled in. Orton-Gillingham is a very specialized learning program for students struggling in reading. Research it and see if you can find an O-G specialist near you - or an educational therpist that can work one-on-one with your child.