Learning Conference

The Learning and the Brain conference is one I highly recommend to all educators. Thanks to Book Smart Kid, I was able to attend. It did not disappoint. The speakers passion and shared visions inspired and affirmed some of what I’ve long believed as an educator. I admit, though, that some of what they proposed was challenging.

What inspired me most during the conference is how much the cognitive scientists agreed with the philosopher’s of educators who taught me many years ago that the work of children is play, and that it should be preserved. That the brain is the most malleable during childhood and how much development is still happening for teens. That educators should strive to maintain positive, nurturing relationships with children because it enhances the educational environment of a child and that the educator and the learning environment must tease the curiosity of a learner rather than squash it.

The challenges I took away had more to do with letting go of what the system convinces us we must do. To throw out old time-wasters such as the ever popular Calendar time with younger students and homework. And to think more about filling the students work day with activity and work rather than the educator being the one talking, working and decorating.

Another challenge is for educators to stop filling the day with boxed up one-dimensional curriculum. Today’s children need to step our in courage to learn to make mistakes. It’s in the mistake where many learning opportunities lay. Teachers also need to become open and model their own mistakes and share what they’ve learned from their own mistakes. Scaffolding is a word that was used often at the conference and it makes sense because of the conference speakers emphasis about learning orientations. There was no science to back up the difference in learning styles. Instead, the differences are now called orientations. One student may be creatively inclined while another analytical while another might be motivated to learn by how practical the content studied.

There is much more to report, but I’m still processing much of what was presented. More soon.


Good Tutoring Sessions

Here are several key “ingredients” for good tutoring sessions:

  1. Building rapport-This may involve a few visits, but it’s important. The students I tutor are young, and often anxious at what tutoring is until after a few visits. They learn pretty quickly that tutoring is simply a time of focused reading with a teacher. I try to ask a few questions to find interests. I know that children are unique and so I try to make sure to bring books to the sessions that will motivate them to work at reading. It’s also nice to throw in some humor to let them know that tutoring can be warm, fun and a nice time even though we’re working together. Finally, using stickers, fun, colorful pencils and small whiteboards help the “work” seem more like play.
  2. Setting-If possible, minimizing distractions is vital. So, I have found that tutoring in a quiet room or living room is best. The library is good, but might have too much noise for some students. A couch is good, but a table is even better. For some reason, couches can be too comfy and I end up with children upside down or squirming on pillows and cushions. Tables can hold books, workbooks, markers, iPad and the many other random items I bring to a session.
  3. Time of day- I have found that evening after dinner to be a good time to tutor. It could be that the student has had enough down time after school and also the distraction of hunger has been taken care of. The next best times are mornings (but not too early) on the weekends.
  4. A Schedule– I find that when I bring in a child friendly task student-task-list and stick with it that a student knows what to expect, a sense of accomplishment when checking off items and a routine which minimizes anxiety.

What I would like to add more of in my sessions:

More hands on learning of words, phonemes, word families, and games. I use workbooks, but I’d like tutoring to look different rather than similar to what might be done at school. The Teachers Pay Teachers website has been a valuable tool for me as well as other websites which have games, resources and others for their free reading passages.

~Happy Reading!




Outcomes of Targeted Tutoring

After a year of tutoring children in reading, I’ve learned a great deal and have experienced the difference reading tutoring can make. While the tangible goals of improving fluency, comprehension and decoding are significant, and certainly strong part of my program, it has been a joy to see other equally, if not more significant outcomes develop as a result of one-on-one tutoring. Increased confidence, attention and focus while reading or being read to, and the student’s discovery of learning and enjoyment through good books.

Each student is unique in his struggle with reading and learning, but each student I’ve tutored has achieved success after 6 months and some cases a few months. I’m excited to report these outcomes and hope that I could offer my services to other struggling children as I learn to promote my business in the year 2017. That is another learning goal of mine.

~peace readers.


A Year of Tutoring

I’m excited to announce that next month, I will be celebrating a year of tutoring young children with Book Smart Kids. It’s been a year of learning and learning some more. A year of tutoring struggling readers has strengthened even more my belief that though a student struggles, early intervention can greatly improve a child’s confidence, skills and love for reading.

By the way, when I use the word child, understand that I’m a mother of 3 grown children. So, a child to me is anyone from the age of 3-ish to 15 or so. (And seriously even older 😉

But, anyway, reading is the foundation for the learning that a child will do throughout his schooling years. No matter the subject, reading is key. But, just pronouncing the words correctly is not true reading. Think about it: Have you ever found yourself deep in a book at first reading, then loosely scanning words and the next thing you know, you’re on Facebook or Pinterest  planning dinner. The ability to refocus yourself or to change what you’re doing and restarting does not come automatically for a child. But, they can be trained to focus, to restart, to begin again. A student can be encouraged to read and to read well. I’m not saying focus is the only thing a student’s struggles with while reading. It’s just an example of one of the many things which may be going on while your child attempts to read.

But, if you notice your child resists time to practice reading or avoids printed books, or shows other signs of frustration, then it could be time for help. This article could help.

In my experience, a child who struggles with reading is often frustrated because they are overwhelmed and confused without knowing or having the ability to put in words how or what they need help with.

Finally, I want to add that I’m also in this business to give a parent some much-needed encouragement and guidance. The parents I have worked with are cooperative, involved, caring and some, super busy. When they hire me, I hope to give them exactly what they are hoping for, which is to (at least for one hour) work with their child in a very focused and concerted way in order to meet the mutual goals of getting their child to gain confidence and skills needed to read at or above grade level.

~Peace in reading peeps.