Tag: parent

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.



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.

Building a Successful Reader

I write about my tutoring sessions in order to document observations, share insights with interested parties and to advocate for the early intervention of reading help a.k.a, tutoring.  Perhaps tutoring has historically been a term equated with the older student and to tutor a young student makes no sense. But, after a year of observation, I beg to differ. It should be a no brainer. A confident, successful reader will love books and in the process love to learn. The earlier a child can master the task of reading, the more enjoyable their school experience will be.

To be clear, I am not advocating developmentally inappropriate practices, for example forcing a pre-schooler to sit quietly at a desk “pushing papers”. While there is a place for some amount of practice using worksheets or flashcards and such, being taught too early in a style meant for a much older student can do more harm to the learning process than good.

Most children have a natural drive to learn about their world and books can be part of this experience. If books are introduced to children while in the lap of a caregiver, the natural drive of learning will create positive experiences with books. It should be built into the child’s routine to have time to sit in the living room exploring a variety of books while the caregivers are nearby reading themselves. Building a reader can also include taking a child to a fun story-time at a local bookstore, or even just visiting the local library and perusing the various books in the child section.

Have a good week putting books into your daily routine.


Learning Apps

Even though I’ve been tutoring since January, I’ve only recently discovered several apps that I consistently use with the students who I tutor in reading. There are many apps out there, but so far, these are the ones that my students choose most and enjoy and that I can stand! 😉

  1. The Reading Train is a fun learning app for beginning readers. What I enjoy about The Reading Train is the multiple ways a student can play to learn and how the student’s efforts are rewarded with “coins” that they can use for fun rewards on the game such as listening to songs which are simple and catchy.
  2. I also use the app Sight Words. Thankfully the voice is pleasant since it gives an abundance of praise for correct clicking. The app levels up by putting more and more words on the screen. I like the size of the font and the use of color for the words.
  3. I’ve recently found  Spelling Magic 2 app. It’s great for student’s who are beginning to spell words they can read and great for learning how letter sounds come together to form words. The voice is a bit dull, but does a great job producing each sound as the student presses letters. I especially enjoy the photographs used for categories and the ability to change letters from upper to lower case.
  4. A really cute app by 22 Learning is Phonics, Fun on Farm. The graphics are cute, the adult voices and music are pleasant. I don’t particularly enjoy the kid voice on there, but hey, the rest of the app is so much fun that my students often choose to play this learning game over others. I think my students like the ability to build a profile and come back to their own profile and stickers. There is also much fun to have on the screen with the graphics similar to what I’ve enjoyed about the PBS kids website.

I will probably update this post as I continue to discover new apps. For now, enjoy downloading and helping your student learn!