Thursday, June 7, 2012

Challenging Day at School

This past week, a young girl came to tutoring in tears.  I could tell she was trying to not cry or let me know she was upset.  She had a rough day at school.  This child has made wonderful progress in tutoring.  It took half the tutoring time for her to be able to function well. She could focus to the side but struggled to focus facing forward. My opinion is that she tried so hard in school to do what she was told she was exhausted. Therefore, her skills to focus forward had been severely taxed. She also could walk better backwards than forwards for the same reason. Mom stayed in the same room where we tutored, as the child needed mom's presence for support. 
As we were struggling for her to be able to learn, I had her take deep breaths to let out her anger, hurt feelings and fustration out. I had her take deep breaths as she lifted her shoulders and let the air out in a noisy whoosh.  Her mom spoke up and said she does this sometimes and Mom did not realize why.
Many people think tutoring is helping a child with their homework.  My tutoring is helping a child have the skills to be able to learn the work rather than helping them with the work.  When the learning skills needed to learn are underdeveloped learning is such a challenge. 
This is a child with ADHD and she had lost recess privileges and two stars for not having her pencils out for the lesson.  This needs to be addressed with an IEP meeting.  An IEP is an individual educational plan for this child.  In my opinion to take recess away from an ADHD child is like punishing someone on crutches for taking too long to open a door for themselves instead to helping them open the door. Have you ever seen anyone act impatient with someone in a wheelchair or on crutches because they slowed them down? Having been on crutches myself for two years and in a wheelchair for a time; I take the time to be thankful I can walk, as I take the time to smile and help. 

How much tutoring is enough

Today, a young lady, who was not reading when we begin tutoring two years ago, returned to tutoring.  Compared to where she was when we began two years ago she reads well.  Mom and I are ready for her to fly educationally.  She will be in the 4th grade next year.  She has an IEP. This is an individual education plan written to help her succeed. However, when she was given a test, the IEP was not used.  She was recommended for summer school to support her learning for next year.
Mom decided to tutor here instead of  summer school.  She has not retained her balance ability as well as I would have thought.  She quickly picked up the balance and tutoring should help.  I will increase the balametrics portion of tutoring. Also, I will modify the go fish word game so she will recognize the words more independently.  Instead of showing her the word as I call it, I will call the word and have her spell the word.  I was surprised how well she can do this. When she gets stuck, I give her the vowel spelling.  An example of this is the ea sound as in eagle.  We will also work more on making sentences with the words to help with understanding the different meanings of each word.
We will only work for one day a week for 6 weeks to see if this is enough support.  If not hopefully, we will work one day a week when school starts to give her the support she needs.  Some students just need more support to maintain their ability to learn efficiently.  People of all ages just have different learning needs and often our society wants everyone to learn like everyone else. When the student does not learn the way the school or teacher wants to teach, the student is blamed instead of the method of teaching.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

calming a learner who is too excited to learn

Today, I worked with a struggling learner.  He is a teen and I have been working with him for months.  We have read a little over half of the second grade McGuffey reader. We are using the Kindle Fire for this because I can enlarge the words. This is still low but exciting.  He had gone with family and friends over the weekend.  He is still excited about the trip.  We did the balance board, and word go fish.  He was too excited to calm down and read well. Finally, I pulled out the skipbo cards and this helped.  We play skipbo because of the pattern training it gives us. It is not my favorite game but patterning is important to teach reading as reading is patterns. Once we played skipbo he did better.  It  amazes me the routine needed sometimes to help this young man focus.  It is so exciting to see  him succeed.  As he has more success, he gets too excited to read the words on the paper and reads what the words mean.  I told him several times that he does not get to read what he wants to unless he writes the story himself.  When someone else writes the story, he has to read their words.