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Today in Southeastern WI we are in the middle of a snowstorm. Now snowstorms are usually something that keeps kids indoors and safe. Many kids will miss out of school and have to make up the school time later on. When it comes to tutoring, there is no way someone is going to travel in a blizzard so that their child can get better at reading.
Well, all of my students were safe today and had a tutoring session with each of them. How can that be? Well as many of you know I do all of my tutoring online using Skype. Skype allows me to see the students and for the students to see me. Skype allows my students and I to share a screen and read with one another. We can work on individual words that kids are struggling with, read books, talk about books, and increase their fluency skills all from the comfort of our homes.
This is a difficult concept for many people to grasp since the technology to do this is very new. But, the important thing is does it work? Many people worry about that one on one time not being meaningful or they see the computer as a cold way to work with children. Do children view it this way? I think not. In fact, I am normally able to raise a student’s reading level in the first 3 months a full year. That is with only 12 hours of instruction. (Sylvan claims that they can raise reading levels a whole year with 32 hours of instruction). On the computer, I have been able to raise reading levels a whole year with just 8-12 hours of instruction. Kids find this kind of learning motivating and any way that is motivating and works is something that we need to continue to do.
Tutoring online is also a much more affordable way for parents to support their children in reading. With the rise in gas prices, parents no longer need to travel back and forth to a tutoring center. Also, some tutors offer specials like free evaluations and progress reports that Sylvan will charge heavily for. If you are serious about getting help for your child in the area of reading, then check out tutoring companies that offer this kind of service. My company is called Bright IDEA Reading and you can find out more information at http://www.theskypingreadingtutor.com. Enjoy the weather wherever you are and stay safe!
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Whether you are a parent that is looking for the right tutor for your child or a teacher looking for the right tutor for a student, it is important to know that not all tutors are right for students with reading difficulties. When you look out on the web you will find a host of people who think that they can tutor children in all subjects simply because they have graduated from high school or college. Even tutoring companies will hire people who simply have graduated from high school or college. Is this the right fit for a child that is struggling with reading? In most cases the answer is no. When we go to the doctor, most of us don’t ask for the least qualified person to see us. We want the best and most qualified. It is the same thing when we are looking for the right reading tutor for our child.
A qualified reading tutor usually has a specialty degree from an accredited college or university. These people have studied and worked with children struggling with reading and know how to identify areas of need that a student is struggling with. Here are some basic questions that you will want to ask the reading tutor before he/she begins working with your child.
- What type of degree do you have?
- How long have you worked with students?
- What has your success rate been working with students in reading?
- Do you teach a certain reading program?
- How do you feel about phonics vs. whole language?
A great reading tutor will let you know that he/she does not teach reading programs that are a one size fits all approach (like Sylvan). They will tell you that they will personally assess your child to find out exactly what his/her strength and weaknesses in reading are and teach where the instruction is needed. This may sound like a no brainer in most cases, but you would be surprised in the amount of people that put their faith in reading programs that do not meet individual children’s needs.
When it comes to the whole phonics vs. whole language thing you really want to look for a reading tutor that does not take sides on this debate and instead incorporates a much more balanced approach. Most of the time that the tutor spends with your child should be directly in relation to reading. It shouldn’t be ridden with worksheets and lengthy phonics lessons and it also shouldn’t be ridden with reading tons of books that the reading tutor needs to provide all of the words to the child in order for the child to be successful. It should incorporate quick mini lessons when needed and tons of on level reading.
You will also want to find a tutor that is passionate about tutoring. Children that are struggling with reading do not respond to all people the same when it comes to learning. They need highly passionate and highly knowledgeable people at their disposal. They need to trust the person that they are working with and most of all they must like working with the tutor. Building report is an extremely important part of working with children who struggle with reading because the reading tutor is asking the child to do something that is the last thing in the world that they want to be doing.
Our struggling readers deserve the best when it comes to getting the support that they need. Make sure that you are giving them the most knowledgeable, educated, and passionate people who care about making a difference in their life.