Author: brendamiscblog

Help your child learn

This article is full of tips that every parent can strive to do to help their child with learning. I write plenty about how reading to your child can make a huge difference, but there are more ways to help your child learn.

How does this help with reading?

This article and the others I have linked here further explain these tips. I have also noticed these practices to be true in my experience as a tutor. It was the student who had a variety experiences with loving care givers that made progress with learning and that were open to learning.

How could you help your child?

  1. Bring balance to your child’s day. Limit screen time, provide outdoor experiences and exercise.
  2. Make sure your child is well rested. “Sleep serves to reenergize the body’s cells, clear waste from the brain, and support learning and memory.”
  3. Do make time for play in your child’s schedule. I can’t stress enough the benefits of play for a child’s overall development.
  4. Take care of the basics. Give your child healthy food habits. Kids that eat well, learn well. I’ve seen this from early childhood to teens. Be a model for them by eating good greens and fruit daily.
  5. Learn together. If something makes your child curious, take a moment to take a closer look, Find a book on the topic, a museum exhibit, or an educational website.

Thanks for stopping by.



Reading Tutor

In a month, I should be settled in somewhere in the metroplex with consistent wifi! However, I will begin registering students for the 2017-2018 school year as it creeps slowly our way. You can send me a message here on my blog or on my Facebook page, whichever works best or even send me a private email at You can also check out my linkedin page to see my background.

Previously, I was tutoring in Seattle, WA. I mostly tutored elementary students who struggled primarily with reading. I’ve tutored students as young as 4 and as old as 12.

I started tutoring elementary students one-on-one because after being in the classroom, I noticed that not all students were catching the finer details of the teacher’s lessons. It wasn’t that they were incapable, and actually I was impressed at how clever and creative struggling students could be to make sure they caught themselves up. But, then come the times when they just can’t do it anymore for whatever reason. It almost appears that their brain is clogged or over-full. Their behavior may decline or they exhibit other stress related conditions.

After noticing these students, I began tutoring privately.  I want to believe I’ve made a difference for the majority of my students. A few of my students have needed even more specific help from a Dyslexia teacher and I helped encourage parents to take this step if needed or if after 20 visits there was no improvement. After tutoring for a year and a half, I can probably tell a bit sooner if there will be a specialist needed.

Towards the end of the last school year, I enjoyed teaching ELL students and helping them with vocabulary and reading lessons and reading that was subject specific. I really enjoyed this new opportunity as I love to help improve the acquisition of our complex language. Thankfully, young students have an edge with their young spongy brains which learn quickly!

In the meantime, enjoy these last days of summer and don’t forget to throw  a bedtime story into your routine for good measure!

~Summer’s Peace.

The struggle is real

In my year and a half of tutoring struggling reading elementary students, I’ve learned a great deal about the actual struggle. Though I can’t see what’s happening inside the brains of the students, I can observe behaviors and this is what I see:

  1. The young student who struggles with reading will use a variety of clever techniques to avoid instruction from chatting about random events, to looking away, to squirming around, to asking for drinks, snacks or a break to interrupting the reading with talking.
  2. As the student reads, fatigue is shown by yawning, blinking, rubbing eyes and changing body positions during the lesson.
  3. The student’s attempts to sound out syllables does not sound typical. Or the student replaces unknown words entirely.
  4. The student’s success rates at reading improve when they’re given a chance to talk about what they know about the topic, before the book, passage or article is read.
  5. The student appears to know they struggle and shows lack of confidence when asked to read books by asking to replace the book or providing their own and sometimes this is okay.
  6. The student shows progress in an inconsistent back and forth pattern. For example, one week progress and confidence seem improved, while the next week, it appears to regress, but if looked at in a broader context, it is overall improved.

There are more, but I would like to end on a positive note by providing some ideas that I use to ease and work with the struggle rather than against it. Here are some ways I’ve adjusted my tutoring sessions:

1.) I share the reading. Since the tutoring time is limited, I’ve found that saving the read aloud time for last gives a child a chance to “rest” the part of the mind that struggles.

2.) Taking small chunks of reading, such as poems can be helpful and less intimidating way to practice reading.

3.) Echo reading, partner reading and modeling reading with expression is helpful for the struggling reader to gain improvement with comprehension.

4.) Finding books that the child is interested in has been most valuable.

5.) Teaching the elements of a story throughout tutoring will help a struggler to grasp the meaning of the story.

6.) Using humor in teaching, books, characters, games all helps ease the pressure and anxiety during tutoring.

7.) Though I’ve used some reading apps, most recently, I’ve used the iPad less because I would like to see improvement with reading the printed word in books. I’ve found the two to be different.

Good struggle

I’ve been tutoring young students for over a year and with each new student, I gain more knowledge about how to tutor and how to make the most of the hour I spend with each student.

One thing I’ve noticed in some of the students I tutor is the lack of decoding skills when encountering a new word. Most of the time, a student will either substitute a similar word, or attempt to sound out, but give up too quickly. It’s hard as a tutor to allow a bit of struggle (at first) because a good tutor knows that there’s a fine line between struggle and frustration. And it takes some time to help a student unlearn the fear of struggle and instead to face the struggle a little bit at a time.

It’s in the struggle that a student can gain confidence. But, in order to face the struggle, a student must first be taught how to use strategies for decoding. One way I found to teach strategies is to deconstruct words. I show a student a “difficult” word and show them how to divide by syllables or to see if there are any pre-fixes or suffixes. But also, it helps to use pieces of nonsense words to practice sounding out. Like putting consonants and vowels together and saying letter sound by letter sound. P-r-o….or f-l-a…

I am encouraged when a student pronounces, even incorrectly a difficult word. This is okay and should be encouraged. Sometimes when a student does this, I say, “hmmm… try that again,” or I say, “Does that sound like a word you know? And other times, I encourage a student to re-read the sentence and when the word is reached again, the word can often be decoded by combining the meaning of the sentence with the decoding. When I reach this point with a student, I’ve met my goal of reaching what I call, good struggle.

Good struggle is facing, without too much fear or frustration, something that is hard with increasing confidence. Once I see a student reach this point, I introduce books at the instructional level. I define this a book in which a child is interested in reading, but also expected to run into some unfamiliar words, but not too many that meaning gets lost in the struggle.

I may clarify this post at a later date or update it as I work on this goal my students. For now, and always, thanks for reading.

~Peace in the struggle.