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Ways to tutor students that can't read by Barjeana Jeffries

Did you know that "2/3 of students who cannot read proficiently by the end of 4th grade will end up in jail or on welfare. Over 70% of America’s inmates cannot read above a 4th grade level."

Can you imagine living in a society where reading is imperative? I've come across several 4th and 5th graders that either could not read at grade level or couldn't read at all.

One of my 5th grade students could not sound out letters and when I asked him to match letters with pictures, he couldn't. 
As a tutor I was furious, not at the student, but at those that allowed him to get to grade 5 without reading or being able to sound out one single letter..

The first question I asked him was "Do you want to read?" Then I explained to him that it would be a difficult road in order to make sure he understood it would be a lot of work. 

The desire to read at this age is imperative. If they don't want to learn, I can talk and teach until my face turns red and it won't matter.

During my second session with this student I went back to basic sounds, I pulled up a worksheet that showed A for apple with pictures. I had him relate the pictures to the sound. Next, I chose simple sounding consonants. I reminded him of the vowel sounds. Vowel sounds are the hardest part of reading. I used my face to show him how to say the letters. Being an ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher gave me a greater understanding that helped me teach vowel sounds. 

For "a" I put my finger on my chin to show him to drop his mouth when he said the letter a. When I got to "e" I smiled and held my fingers to the edge of my mouth.

I did the same for the other vowels. This action gave him two cues and when he came to a word with a vowel that he could not read I held my fingers in the position of the vowel to remind him how his mouth should look.

During that second session he was able to read 10 words! He danced around the room in excitement. I wanted to join him. During our third session I went through the pictures of the letters and had him say them out loud again. Repetition and comprehension are keys to learning. I then went to new worksheets that asked him to fill in the middle sounds of the words. When he had trouble I put my fingers on my mouth to remind him how to say the letters.

I found it interesting, and maybe you all figured this out before I did, but when you say "A is for apple."  Your teaching the student both sounds of the letter A. I ended that session with the 10 words he learned in order to give him hope and to give him affirmation . 

I keep the chart with the alphabet and the pictures available for review and repetition. During our third session I had him insert the letter into the middle portion of the word. For example: I used the word 'map." I had him say, "M, apple P."  This strategy gave him something to connect the sound and the letter with, then he inserted the vowel. When he got lost I  pulled up the chart and reminded him of the vowel sounds.

Teaching is a visual art and pictures help the student visualize a concept when repeated until they comprehend. I work to engage my student in any way possible in order to give them a reminder and help him/her recall what he/she has learned.

I hope this blog has helped you see the importance of helping students that can't read. Reading is not just a benefit, it is imperative. As I stated and cited above, "2/3 of students who cannot read proficiently by the end of 4th grade will end up in jail or on Over 70% of America’s inmates cannot read above a 4th grade level."

Therefore it is imperative that a child learn to read and it's our job to find out why the student can't read. Try the suggestions I mentioned above to help them succeed in a society of readers. Imagine what happens to a student when he gets out into the world to work, How can he/she fill out an application? How can he/she read a sign and follow written directions 

These students don't end up on welfare or in jail because they are "bad" people, they just can't work in a society where reading is often the only way to communicate.

Please, if you're tutoring a student that can't read, make it your mission to educate that student and save him/her from a life  of jail or welfare in order to survive. Give him/her the ability to care for him/her self in a society where reading is the most important skill he/she has in order to find a job and make a living in a society of readers.

If you'd like further information, please find me on Frog Tutoring and search for Barjeana Jeffries.

Barjeana J
Excel in Raising Education to Grade Level
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