In an effort to help parents navigate the often subjective waters of the English Language Skills Areas, I offer a variety of classes. Since the world went crazy, I’ve been solely seeing students via Zoom, whether in 1:1 sessions or in classes. Guess what? It’s working out really well.
Two of my children have been late and very late readers. Because I needed to learn how to help 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 require more frequent contact between student and teacher. Since the switch to being fully online, the frequency and duration of an O-G lesson has changed somewhat. Even though I rarely teach younger students, I have found that some kids just can’t sit in front of a computer for such intense lessons for very long. Because of this, O-G sessions rarely last longer than about 45 minutes, which means that it takes longer to get through a full lesson. Parental involvement is key to keeping things moving in the direction we want!
For some students, I use pure phonics via the Gillingham Manual. Other students benefit more from an Orton-Spalding approach, either through Wanda Sanseri’s version or the Riggs Institute’s, which are the programs I know best. I’ve also discovered that Megawords works well with Wanda’s Black Log. I make the decision of how I will approach a studen’ts remediation based on what I see during the student’s assessment. If your child has an IEP or formal diagnosis, I’d love to read what light those professionals can shed on your student’s skills. Whenever I see these students, especially those on the younger side, a parent needs to be on hand and engaged during the lessons. I can tutor O-G/SWR via Zoom, but only if Mom or Dad vigilantly watches to ensure directionality and proper placement of all writing the student does. A quiet environment is also a must because everyone needs to be able to hear and understand what is being said. Some years I take O-G students on as one-on-one students; other terms, my schedule is too packed for me to do anything other than schedule these children in small groups.
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!) It is best for these students to have a lesson once a week with two different homework due dates between classes–one mid-week and another the night before the next lesson.
Often, parents come to me to live-teach composition to their students. For the most part, I use what I learned through IEW’s Teaching Writing: Structure and Style course as the basis for these weekly classes, both around my table at home or via Skype. After a couple of years of these lessons, many parents feel confident in their ability to continue to hone their children’s writing skills or, especially in the case of older high school students, send them to the local community college for English 101 and 102. 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-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. In recent years, I have often had a Literary Analysis class going that corresponds to the Reading with Reason selections. Lost Tools of Writing is also a popular choice that lends itself to any publisher’s essay questions, but many curriculum offerings can also provide the scaffolding for these classes.
Every now and then, I 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.
The actual classes I teach each term vary year to year. You would need to contact me to see what’s in store, or look on this page. I urge you to get in touch with me early, though, as my slots fill rather quickly. Because of this, all writing classes have a 4 student minimum. O-G classes will never go over 4 students. I have very limited 1:1 sessions available. While my youngest is still in school, all tutoring takes place in the mornings and early afternoons so I can devote the later afternoons to my son’s learning. Lesson times begin at the top of the hour and run for between 45 and 50 minutes. A few younger O-G students do better with even shorter sessions. Fees for all classes vary depending on the time commitment required outside of the actual teaching time, but all are very reasonable–likened to what you would pay a piano teacher. Please contact me at my informational email address (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you would like to learn more about any of these courses. I will respond via my “real” email address. This helps combat nasty spam. More information about what it is like to work with me is available in my Policies Handbook, which is provided to each family every year and is considered part of my contract with you if we decide to work together.