In an effort to help parents navigate the often subjective waters of the English Language Skills Areas, I offer a variety of classes, both in my home and electronic. Distance classes take the form of emails and Skype lessons, usually for a set period of time, often by semester, and work towards a specific previously agreed upon goal. In-Person classes flow more week to week, depending on schedules.
Two of my children have been late and very late readers. Because of the older of these dear boys, I am Orton trained, which means I can tackle tough phonics troubles, especially dyslexia. I am also well versed with helping older students with more advanced stages of reading and comprehension skills. O-G classes need more frequent contact between student and teacher. In order for maximum learning to take hold, we need to meet a minimum of twice a week, preferably three times, for about an hour each session. For some students, I use pure phonics via the Gillingham Manual. Other students benefit more from an Orton-Spalding approach, either through Spell to Write and Read or Riggs, which are the programs I know best. I make this decision based on what I see during the student’s assessment. If you have an IEP or formal diagnosis, I’d love to read what light those professionals shed on your student’s skills.
A course on study skills also falls into the reading and comprehension area. Time management doesn’t come naturally to many people but it is a skill that can be taught and applied by anyone. This course contains a gold mine of information for any middle school range (6th to 9th grade) student, but is also very useful for new college students and even adults. I look to biology to see when a student is ready for this class. When puberty is well under way, it’s time for this life skill! (But honestly, it’s never too late to learn how to order your days!)
Often, parents come to me to live-teach composition to their students. I use IEW’s TWSS as the basis for these classes both around my table at home or via Skype. After a year or two of these lessons, many parents feel confident in their ability to further teach their kids with this method. Yes, my goal is to work myself out of a job! Mentoring the mother makes for a more satisfying experience for me–and mentoring is built into everything I do. The kids are happy. Mom is happy. I’m happy. It’s a win-win situation.
Composition time is more “brain time” than anything else. It is not “penmanship practice” time because the two skills utilize totally different sections of the brain. Therefore, a necessary prerequisite for my classes is the ability to read and form letters comfortably. I’m fine with teaching younger students (around 10 and up) who still need to develop fluency of handwriting, but only if Mom serves as scribe. Younger students may benefit from my reading and phonics classes, which embed the stylistic techniques of IEW and provide important “snowbanking” for composition later.
I am often the go-to gal for older kids. Many high school students need a time of targeted instruction for the refinement of the various essays. I teach a course that I call “The Essay Continuum” for returning students in order to teach the elements which make up an essay and the many ways to slant these composition workhorses, as well as numerous possibilities for structuring individual paragraphs. While crafting a variety of essays, which are usually correlated with the student’s course load, we work in any needful lessons from IEW’s flagship Structure and Style curriculum. Once a student has a firm grasp on essays, we can devote more time to literary analysis, research papers, and the skill of persuasion. For these areas, customized lessons are usually your best bet. Lost Tools of Writing is a popular choice that lends itself to any publisher’s essay questions, but many curriculum offerings can also provide the scaffolding for these classes.
I sometimes offer tutoring specifically for the ACT, SAT and other high-stakes testing, but only the reading and writing (AKA, English) sections–never math–although if you look at the science section of the ACT as more of a “reading comprehension” exercise, I can provide tips for that part. Preparation for both the AP English Language & Composition and the AP English Literature & Composition exams are also available. Being tied to the AP schedule, these two classes are highly structured, full year courses with rigorous time requirements. It is not recommended that any student take both courses in the same year. As the new classical test (CLT) takes hold, I look forward to offering tutoring for that as well.
All lesson times run for about an hour. Fees vary depending on the time commitment required outside of the actual teaching time, but are very reasonable–likened to what you would pay a piano teacher. Please contact me if you would like to learn more about any of these courses.