Find out where in the world the Skyping Reading Tutor is. The skyping reading tutor volunteers in classrooms by reading books and motivating them to read. The Skyping Reading Tutor also has her own online reading tutoring company

Day 11: Question Marks

On day 7 we took a look improving fluency and specifically at stopping appropriately at periods and commas. Today we are going to focus on what to do with question marks. If this particular strategy isn’t something that your child struggles with, then you can simply focus on the information from the previous days.

When we read we know that our voice goes up and down very naturally. We don’t need any instruction in this, it just happens. However, when we are reading, many times a child will look at a question mark and keep a monotone voice and read it like a period. Their voice doesn’t change, and it is really hard to tell as the listener that there was a question asked because not making our voice go up and down actually changes the meaning of what we are reading.

When I am teaching kids reading online I am able to highlight the books with two different colors very easily. I highlight the words that go up as green and the words that go down as red. Then when I am done I have the kids take a look at exactly where my voice was going up and down. This visual actual helps kids to see their voice in a different way.

After we analyze what happens with their voice we go over when the voice is particularly going up and going down. Then the child gets to practice making their own voice go up and down. It is a powerful strategy and it ultimately leads to better comprehension.

If you own the book, then you can mark it up all you want to help your child with this, however, if you don’t own it you are aware that would be a very bad move. That is why I love using ebooks with kids online. I can mark up the text to guide them without getting in their space or ruining a great book.

Once your child’s voice has improved in fluency, you will notice how much more interesting it is to listen to him or her read. It also increases their own personal motivation to want to read. Let me know if you have any questions. I would love to guide you in how I do this.

Day 10 Vocabulary Resources



Yesterday you were reminded about picking out one vocabulary word a day. Today we are going to talk about some resources that can really help aid you and your child with learning new vocabulary.

I haven’t personally found an online dictionary that I absolutely love, but I have found one that I like. You can go to What I like about this site is that it has examples of how to use the word for other texts. What I don’t like about the vocabulary sites I have found and even the apps on the ipad is that the definitions of words in dictionaries don’t seem to be very kid friendly. I am sure that you remember as a child looking up one word to be in the endless stream of looking up other words within the definition. This is a frustrating task and it is important to note that not all vocabulary words have to be learned or even looked up. That would take up so much of our brain power that we would have no motivation to continue reading what we started with in the first place.

A resource that I absolutely love is called This site is a subscription site, so you will need to pay a small fee, but it is totally worth it. In fact, all the parents that I work with get free use of this site because of how valuable it is to me.

This site has a vocabulary section that automatically generates definitions and saves those definitions to play games with. The child is able to go and play games on their own and then later on they can take a fun test to find out how many of these words they are able to remember.

I have found that the games are very high quality and are absolutely amazing. I love the flash cards. I personally use them as a talking piece instead of just relying on reading the definitions. I try to put the words in different contexts and fun examples to enhance their understanding of the vocabulary word.

Check out the site. It also has spelling games to really help with spelling words correctly. That isn’t our focus here with reading with our child, but I know that many parents have shared their frustration with the spelling that their child is presenting. Keep reading and encouraging your child to reach the reading success that you know he/she can reach!

Day 9: Summarizing

So far we have seen how vocabulary, fluency, and phonics can impede comprehension. Now we are going to take a look at the inside thinking that happens. This is the metocognitive side of reading. Children need to be taught how to think about reading when they are reading. In other words they need to be thinking about their thinking.

Sometimes when a child is reading he/she ends up thinking about something else they are about to do, other than what they are engaged in. Or, a child is working so hard at figuring out the words, that there is literally no extra space available to think about his/her reading. Therefore, if we utilize some of the comprehension strategies when reading with our child, we will be able to guide them in how to know if he/she is understanding what is being read or if he/she is not understanding.

One of those strategies is summarizing. If a reader is understanding what is being read, then he/she is able to repeat what was read in his/her own words. A summary is just a couple of sentences about what was read verses a retell. A retell is when the reader tells you everything that they read. Sometimes in the beginning a reader needs guidance in this area. You can begin by summarizing your page and then having him/her summarize his/her page. Once your child becomes comfortable with this process you can have him/her summaraize at the end of the chapter.

If the child is able to summarize it shows the he/she is capable of storing the information he/she has read in his/her short term memory. This is extremely necessary in order to do a much more difficult comprehension strategy called synthesizing. As a parent it is not important to hit every single comprehension strategy that is out there. However, practice with some of the basic ones will prepare him/her for the higher level ones they will need to be able to implement as they move up in grade levels.

So, practice summarizing with your child, talking about the book that you are reading, and increase vocabulary by picking out one vocabulary word a day to focus on. Until next time, keep reading!


At this point we have seen how increasing vocabulary and improving reading fluency can get in the way of understanding what we are reading. Today we are going to take a look some more reading tips on how not reading a word correctly can get in the way of not understanding what you are reading. Then you will learn how review words with your child in order to increase their reading comprehension.

As you know by now I like to provide you with real examples so that you can see how not knowing how to pronounce a word can detract from the meaning of the text. This example is also from Hello, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle by Betty MacDonald.

Just then Mr. Carmody’s car turned into the driveway. Immediately Phillip jumped up into the wotbin and yelled, “Watch me, Dad. I’m goin’ to stand on my head in the wotbinow. I’m go to stand on my head and say the alphabet basteds.

Are you able to get a good visual picture of what is happening in the story? I know that I can’t. I’m missing a critical piece of information in order to understand what the paragraph is about. I need to know what Phillip is standing in and I can’t figure out that word. I also don’t know what he is doing with the alphabet. I am so lost at this point in the book that I don’t even want to continue reading. But look at all of the words that I got correct. I was able to read 40 other words. I only messed up on three, but it has severely gotten in the way of my understanding of the text.

There is a simple solution to this. Write down on a piece of paper the words that your child does not read correctly. If you have tried the “Try it Again” strategy and he/she still does not know the word, put it in a word collection notebook. You can review how to read some of these words before your child reads again. I usually have about 10 words that I am working with my students that I tutor in reading at a time. As a reading tutor I never want to have more than that because it is too overwhelming for the child. You may even find that 5 words is better. It really depends on the child.

As time goes on your child will be able to read more and more words, just like they now know the meanings of more and more words and are reading more and more sentences correctly. Great work sticking with this process and creating a better reader, it is totally worth it.


Yesterday we focused on how vocabulary can get in the way of our children understanding what they are reading and today we are going to look at another important element that drastically decreases comprehension.  Try reading this paragraph from Hello, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle by Betty MacDonald


She said we didn’t see you doing any tricks now go and put away the hose and the wheelbarrow and sweep up that broken glass dinner will be ready in about five minutes and it’s your favorite.


Now read the paragraph again, but this time with the correct punctuation in place.


She said, “We didn’t see you doing any tricks.  Now go and put away the hose and the wheelbarrow and sweep up that broken glass.  Dinner will be ready in about five minutes and it’s your favorite.


Did you notice the difference in how you understood that one paragraph with inserting the correct punctuation?


I have found that no matter how many times you tell a child to stop at a period and pause at a comma, that it doesn’t really sink in for them.  So, here is what I do to make the period and the comma become real living things.  I have the child knock twice at the period and knock once at the comma.  Since I do all of my tutoring online, I am actually able to introduce this idea by drawing on the commas and periods.  I will physically put two backslashes on the periods and one on the comma so that it pops out at them a little bit more.  When the child forgets to stop or pause correctly after we have worked with this method for awhile we are able to simply go back to the “Try again” model.  We ask them to try the sentence again or try the paragraph again.

You will be amazed at how much more information your child is able to retain as soon as you begin implementing this method.  It is amazing.  Here is to fluency and here is to comprehension!  Keep reading.


By now you are very much into a great book with your child.  The bonding time is priceless and I hope that you are enjoying that.  Today’s strategy is going to increase your child’s comprehension.

You many be wondering how increasing vocabulary can aid in comprehension.  Here’s the thing, if your child only understands 97% of the meanings of words that he or she is reading, the more likely it is going to decrease his/her understanding of the passage.  That is amazing if you think about it.  If a child struggles with 3% of the words meanings they come across, then the entire meaning of the text will be lost and the purpose of reading disappears.

However, the solution is really simple and I want you to see the amazing benefits.  So, if when your child is reading or when you are reading when it is your time to read and you take a second to talk about that word, you will drastically increase their vocabulary each year.  For example, if each day for one week you pick out a word to talk about, then you will increase your child’s vocabulary by 7 words.  If you committed to do this for an entire month, you would increase your child’s vocabulary by 31 words, and if you did for an entire year you would increase his/her vocabulary by 365 words each year.  This will automatically be putting your child at the top of the class compared to the other students, because there are not many parents that are taking the time to do this.

So now that we know the importance of picking out one word during our readings, let’s take a look at how to do that.  If you were reading the book Hello, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle by Betty MacDonald and you ran across the word glanced, then you can simply ask your child if he/she has ever heard of the word glanced.  If your child says no, then you can say, “Glanced is when you quickly look at something.”  Then you want to keep reading.  Throughout the rest of the day see how many times you and your child can use the word.  With this particular word you could look quickly at your child and say, “I glanced at you,” and then quickly look away.  I guarantee that both of you will be rolling with laughter with all of the great ways you can use these words.

A child needs to use a word 7 times before they can actually own it, so get him/her to use it in fun ways and you will increase their vocabulary in no time.  Remember to have fun with this and you will have great results.

Day 5 Three Questions


Welcome to day 5. Has your summer been as jam packed as mine? Well, I hope along with reading that you and your children are able to also have lots of fun. Today we are going to be taking a look at the three types of errors that kids typically make when they are reading and come up with some questions that can help them fix their errors on their own. Just like in the try again strategy, you want to get your child to be responsible for correcting his/her own reading errors. If you do it for the child, then you become the strategy called ask a parent instead of encouraging the child to figure it out.

The three magic questions are
1. Does it look right?
2. Does it sound right?
3. Does it make sense.

There are also three specific times that you ask these questions. Let’s take a look at an example of does it look right.

Child: “It dumped into Rani and Brother Dove.”

Parent: “Does that look right?” (Parent points to the word dumped.)

Child: “Oh, I meant bumped.”

In this example the child fixed her error immediately upon the question being asked. Many times kids will flip b’s and d’s. However, when they read it in context for a second time he/she is able to usually fix it.

The second question is does that sound right. The purpose of this question is to focus the child’s attention to sentence structure. Often times children will read the way that they speak and not notice the way that it was actually written. Also, kids will make tons of errors on the little words, inserting a different little word in it’s place. For example,

Child: “It took off his mask.”
Parent: Does that sound right?
Child: “Not really.”
Parent: “Try Again.”
Child: “He took off his mask.”

Parent: “Great, you fixed it yourself.”

Notice how it would not be grammatically correct with his in the sentence. The point of the question is not to be nit picky, but rather get the child to correct his/her own errors.

The last qustion is does that make sense. This question promotes the reader to make sense of what he/she is reading. Here is an example.

Child: “I am always the lion wolf.”
Parent: “Does that make sense?”
Child: “No”
Parent: “Try again.”
Child: “I am always the lone wolf.”
Parent: “Does that make sense?”
Child: “Yes.”
Parent: “Excellent, keep going.”

In this example, lion instead of lone does not make sense. It kind of looks like lion. It begins the same and it ends in the same sound, but it does not make sense. If reading does not make sense, then kids can develop comprehension problems and a low motivation to want to read independently.

When it comes to reading, the goal always needs to be to foster independence. Often times in our busy lives it is much easier to fix the mistake for the child, but this is not really helping him/her reach the goal of fixing the mistakes on his/her own. Odds are, that when he/she comes to a word on his/her own and get’s it wrong, then he/she will just keep reading and it will effect his/her overall comprehension.



Today, go somewhere fun to read your book with your child. You can go outside, go to a park, or to your local library. Reading at the library actually motivates your child to want to find other titles to read as well without having to break the bank. You can say yes to as many books as they want and encourage them to read what they have picked out.

Today is the beginning of the summer reading program at our library and during the summer months the library does special events to encourage and motivate kids to read. All library summer programs look different, but they usually consist of kids logging the amount of time that they read and some special programs.

This year my kids were excited to join a couple of book clubs. The Friends of the Library donated books and the kids actually get to keep the books. The way it works, is that the kids read the book and then they come to the library to talk about them. It is only one 45 minute session per book, so it is fun and motivating for them.
As soon as my kids got their books yesterday, they began reading them immediately. Then they also looked for books in the library to read in order to fulfill some of their reading minutes. What I love, is that this is all through the idea of a suttle suggestion. I don’t tell my kids how long they need to read or what they have to read. All those decisions are made by them.

Our summer program is only for the months of June and July. I have found that by August, the kids are not as motivated anymore. No worries, school starts back up soon and they will get into their new routines there soon enough.


Day 3 Try Again

Today you are going to begin some powerful strategies that put the learning in your child’s hands instead of in yours. I have personally found that when I tell a child how to say a word, some of the really great readers might remember it next time, but the kids that struggle with reading rarely do.

So if telling the child the word is not helpful, then sounding it out must be the next best strategy. Not all words can be sounded out, so I am pretty picky about when I suggest this strategy.

The very first strategy I use with kids is simply to say try again. I want to give them an opportunity to use whatever strategy is going to work for him or her. Many times I will wait till the end of the sentence and give them their own opportunity to fix the mistake. That is ultimately what I want to instill in them anyways. I want them to think to themselves, “Hmm, that didn’t make sense. Let me try that again.”

At this point after you have suggested your child to try it again and they do not get the word correct, just go ahead and tell them the word. As time goes on you are going to learn some additional skills that will help in this area.


Day 2 Begin Reading


Today’s challenge is to simply start reading the book that you have chosen together. You may have already started doing this because your child was so excited. But, in case you didn’t there are some things to think about.

1. How to read the book
2. Commit to 30 minutes a day

First, you want to think about how you are going to read the book. Some kids like to read one page while the parent reads the other page. However, for some kids this is overwhelming. If this is the case, then I suggest that you switch off after each paragraph. This will give your child more breaks and make both of you feel less stressed out.

I highly suggest that you stay away from each of you switching off by chapters. I have noticed that kids seem to lose attention pretty quickly and that it is difficult to keep them on task.

The suggestions that you will get in the days to come will help with what to do if you notice that your child is off task. To begin with you shouldn’t notice that this is much of an issue because they are usually really excited to begin this process with a book that they have chosen with you.

Second, you want to make at least a 30 minute commitment to this activity each day. If the parent is reading half of the pages, then your child is reading for about 15-20 minutes. Children should read for at least 15 minutes a day. With summer and warm weather approaching, many children will feel tempted to play outside or play their video games instead of immersing themselves with a good book.

Studies have been done which correlate the number of minutes a child reads at home to SAT scores. Not so surprisingly, the children that read for the most minutes at home ended up with the highest scores. I am sure that there are other factors in place here with this study, but if the solution to high SAT scores was reading with your child for 30 minutes a night, wouldn’t it be worth it. Check out the results of a dad who made this commitment and this one girl’s success.

Happy reading!

Tag Cloud