Who Does Foundations Tutoring Help?
1. We help children who can read, but don’t read as well as most of the other children in their class.
Some of these children make lots of mistakes…some fix their mistakes and some just keep going. They often repeat words, or “start over” at the beginning of the sentence. We also help the children who don’t make lots of mistakes, but do read slowly with great effort.
2. We help students identified “at risk” by their teacher.
Parents shouldn’t wait for their child’s teacher to suggest retention, or testing for Special Education. If they get help early at the first sign of struggle, they can prevent these recommendations down the road. Waiting to act only allows the child to get farther behind, which results in more time and effort to catch him up.
3. We help students with poor grades.
If your child’s grades are poor, there’s a reason. Find out what it is so you can change the equation and change his future. Rarely will poor grades suddenly get better unless you take concrete steps to increase your child’s foundational skills. If your child has a poor grade in science, it’s likely that he’s not a proficient reader/writer, or perhaps he has difficulty acquiring new vocabulary words, or remembering what the teacher said. You can be sure that there is a reason behind your child’s poor grades, and that it’s not his choice to do poorly.
4. We help Kindergarteners and 1st graders who aren’t catching on to reading as easily as most of the other children,
Especially the three to four kindergarten children (in a classroom of 20) who have trouble remembering letter sounds; and also the three to four children in every first grade class who try to learn to read by guessing and memorizing, rather than sounding out words.
5. We help students who are sometimes labeled “lazy” or “unmotivated.”
If a child works hard and still can’t succeed, he will give up at some point. He may appear lazy or unmotivated, but the truth is that children want to be successful, and they will work hard to be successful if they perceive they can be. It is critical that a struggling child be taught in the way that he learns best so he can be successful. Success motivates.
6. We help students who are anxious, including the ones who don’t want to go to school.
Does your child have frequent headaches or stomach aches? Does she to want to stay home from school? Anxiety, especially about school, is a common symptom of reading difficulty. Would you want to go to school if it made you feel dumb? A struggling child sees how hard her parents and teachers are trying to help, and still the work is too hard. She doesn’t want to let them down.
7. We help students with learning differences, whether they’ve been formally identified or not.
Children who process information differently need instruction that teaches them differently. They need access to specialized instruction in order to master foundational skills in the way they learn best. Most students with learning differences have inherited differences in brain structure and brain wiring that prevent them from learning from the very same instruction that works perfectly fine for the other 80% of students in their class.
If your child’s school doesn’t offer Orton-Gillingham instruction with sufficient intensity, then please check us out. Note: Each student receiving Barton tutoring must be tutored at least 2 hours per week in order for the instruction to be frequent/intense enough “to stick.” If your child is receiving Barton instruction in a small group, be aware that it is critical he or she still receive the equivalent intensity of 100 minutes of one-on-one instruction, meaning a group of 2 students would need to receive almost 4 hours of instruction per week; and group of 3 students would need to be tutored almost 6 hours per week. More than 3 students in a group are not recommended. (Barton, Susan. “Frequently Asked Questions.”. Website. 16 Apr. 2013.)
8. We help Special Education students.
Students qualify for Special Education when they are performing well below their intellectual potential due to a processing weakness. Often these students haven’t had access to the type of specialized instruction they need, and thus are missing the foundational listening/speaking, reading/writing, and/or math skills they need to succeed academically. It is critical that:
1) the student receive instruction in a structured, multisensory intervention (MSL or Orton-Gillingham) that has been proven to grow the foundational skills of students who learn differently, and
2) that the program is delivered with enough intensity so as to result in faster than average improvement. In order for the student who is behind to actually catch up, he must make progress at a faster rate than the average student who is also progressing.
It is rare to find a Special Education classroom that offers an Orton-Gillingham program such as the Barton System of Reading and Spelling. One obstacle is that the large number of students on the Special Education teacher’s caseload makes it impossible for her to provide the recommended 100 minutes of tutoring per student per week. In addition, Special Education teachers are often mandated to help their students stay afloat in the classroom instead of, or in addition to, building their foundational skills. While we at Foundations Tutoring have the utmost respect for caring, hard working teachers, we also know the difficult circumstances that are often beyond their control, and the often unrealistic expectations they are up against. Your child’s needs may simply be more than what her teacher can give her.
9. We help students who are not working up to their potential.
The explanation for why some very smart students perform poorly in school is often an identified or unidentified learning difference that can be effectively addressed with specialized instruction. The most common underlying cause of reading struggle in students with average and above-average intelligence is reading disability, or dyslexia. “Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge” (Definition adopted by the IDA Board of Directors, Nov. 12, 2002, and also used by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development). If your child is bright, yet struggles with reading and/or spelling, please consider an assessment with us. We will look specifically at his phonological processing, the most common underlying cause of reading disability or dyslexia.
10. We help students who are frustrated and/or angry.
Is your child spending too much time in the office at school? The underlying issue could well be reading difficulty. Most students would prefer to get sent to the office rather than stay in class and feel stupid. Even though the child is NOT stupid, he is likely to believe he is “dumb” if he doesn’t understand what is wrong. After all, if we as adults had to go to a job every day that made us feel inferior and humiliated, we’d quit that job. Young children can’t really quit school, but some do cope by acting out their frustration, or even deliberately trying to get sent to the office so as to escape a painful place where they see other children who appear to be learning easily when they aren’t.
11. We help students who are not “Proficient” on state tests.
Below are the performance descriptions for California State Testing (STAR). Please note that a score of “Basic” means your child demonstrated only “a partial or rudimentary understanding of the knowledge and skills” for his grade level. Do not accept “Basic” for your child. The goal is Proficient or Advanced for every child, and if your child scores “Basic” or below, you can do something about it. Contact us for an assessment. Note: Please also know it is possible for a very bright child to score Proficient on STAR testing and still be performing well below his ability due to limited reading skills.
- Advanced: This category represents a superior performance. Students demonstrate a comprehensive and complex understanding of the knowledge and skills measured by this assessment, at this grade, in this content area.
- Proficient: This category represents a solid performance. Students demonstrate a competent and adequate understanding of the knowledge and skills measured by this assessment, at this grade, in this content area.
- Basic: This category represents a limited performance. Students demonstrate a partial and rudimentary understanding of the knowledge and skills measured by this assessment, at this grade, in this content area.
- Far Below / Below Basic: This category represents a serious lack of performance. Students demonstrate little or a flawed understanding of the knowledge and skills measured by this assessment, at this grade, in this content area.
(“2010 STAR Test Results.” Help: Term and Score Explanations. Web. 16 Apr. 2013)(http://star.cde.ca.gov/star2010/help_scoreexplanations.asp)
12. We help students recommended for retention.
The research does not support retention as a solution to poor achievement. Before parents agree to do the same thing that didn’t work the first time, they should have their child assessed for a learning difference. Although some parents and teachers anecdotally report that their child may be doing better at the beginning of his repeated year, research shows that these gains are temporary and decline within 2-3 years. In other words, the students who are retained do not end up doing better than the similarly low-achieving students who were never retained. If a child is experiencing academic problems, please find out why and get him the specialized instruction he needs. There is a program that matches his needs and he can make significant progress that won’t fade. (Grade Retention and Promotion: Information for Parents. By Shane Jimerson, Ph.D., Sarah M. Woehr, & Amber M. Kaufman, M.A. University of California, Santa Barbara. Available on the NASP Website)
13. We help students who are good thinkers in life, but struggle with paper and pencil tasks at school.
Most schools teach best to auditory, word thinkers. But in life, big picture, visual thinkers often have the advantage. The challenge is for a student who thinks in pictures to thrive in a classroom where most of the teaching is done in words. This is not to say that good teachers don’t recognize the importance of teaching in a multisensory way, in order to reach children with visual/spatial and tactual/kinesthetic learning styles. But students who have significantly weak auditory skills are definitely going to need a very structured, multisensory approach to learning to read in order to meet their potential. That’s what Orton-Gillingham or MSL instruction is all about. That’s our area of expertise.