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I graduated from Madison Area Technical College as a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant. After working several years in rehab, I retired to homeschool my six children for 27 years, which I am still doing. For the past ten years I have worked as an educational consultant to parents and professionals of learning disabled students. Although I can work with students of any age in major subject areas, my greatest desire is to help the non-reader gain access to the written word.
My background as a COTA, with its emphasis on developmental stages, sensory integration, and cognitive development, brings a unique perspective to the tutoring community. Rather than simply helping a student pass his courses, my specialty area of cognitive (brain) training helps get to the root of a student’s learning struggles and sets him on the path to future success.
For ten years I worked as an educational consultant to parents, teachers, therapists, and doctors around the world before retiring to serve local students and parents directly. During that time, I perfected dozens of techniques to aid the struggling student. My techniques are often the breakthrough that a student needs to unlock his mind. It isn’t uncommon for me to hear from parents and teachers alike saying, “Why hasn’t anyone explained these things to me before? This makes so much sense.”
During my homeschooling years, I developed a homeschool curriculum that integrated all subjects, into various historical themes. This curriculum was named as one of the Top 100 Picks for Homeschooling by Cathy Duffy in 2006 and published as a top choice in her book by the same name. Periodically I have been featured as a guest speaker at homeschool conventions, most notably the National Association of Catholic Home Educators in 2002 in Washington DC, where I spoke on how to teach to a child’s learning style while building up the student’s weaker modalities. I also gave workshops on how to teach learning disabled students.
I have a passion to help the non-reader gain access to the written word. For most students this can happen in 10-20 lessons and I will even work with the parent to implement some of the strategies themselves, saving $100s, if desired. Why let your student struggle any longer?
The child with attention issues will only become more agitated the more we demand concentration. He literally can not force himself to stay attentive. We must incrementally teach the child to pay attention. The techniques I use can start with an attention span of only three seconds and incrementally build the focusing skills to an appropriate level. Once the child is able to focus other learning issues can be addressed if necessary.
Another area that many students with ADD or ADHD struggle with is the inability to sort information. We can address this issue by teaching the brain to think more systematically through cognitive training exercises. Then the student will be able to choose what information to store and store it properly. When information is stored properly the student will be able to retrieve information as needed.
Contact me for an assessment that will help to determine if I am the best tutor for your child. If we decide we are a good match for each other, I will choose the best combinations of techniques from Audiblox, Davis and PACE programs for your child.
Dyslexia manifests itself with a variety of symptoms, however, the most common symptom is reversals—reversals in reading, writing, spelling, and math.
Research has shown that a person needs a “digit span” or “working memory” of at least five digits to learn phonics. That means that a student must be able to sequence five items before he has the capacity to learn phonetically. So, if a person is weak sequentially he can study phonics forever but never catch on to reading. Its like the proverbial “beating your head against the wall.” The typical dyslexic struggles because his left brain, which is the side that sequences things, is weak. We must first build the student’s sequencing skills to at least five, preferably seven, before we can begin to teach phonics. I have the tools your child needs to build his sequential skills so he can succeed academically. Once the student’s sequencing skills are at the appropriate level, phonics—and reading—will become easy.
A smaller portion of dyslexics do not struggle with reading. Through simple assessments, I can determine what areas of weakness need to be addressed and develop a customized program for your student. I will draw exercises from Audiblox, Davis and PACE programs as well as my training as a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant.
I have consulted families from around the world with struggling elementary students for the past ten years. I also homeschooled my own six children from K-12. When I tutor, I try to get to the root of the difficulty. First I will look for learning disabilities that need to be addressed. Once those are addressed, we can get down to tutoring actual subject areas.
If the parent wants, I will assess the foundational skills in specific subject areas to shore up any weaknesses while parallelly addressing the immediate school work in that subject.
For math I am a firm believer in initiating study with manipulatives before moving to the concrete and using visualization to bridge between the two. I will use games to solidify the math facts once the concepts are learned. I also believe that mental math is very important and should be encouraged before paperwork.
In Reading and Spelling, again the foundational skills need to be addressed before actually addressing the reading and spelling themselves. We need to build working memory before teaching phonics. We can also teach some of the common sight words right away to build confidence since many sight words do not follow the phonetic rules.
For writing, I have specific techniques that help the child determine WHAT to write and then techniques for organizing the student's thoughts and finally presenting the material in a way that is interesting and not trite.
Typically I utilize the techniques from the Institute in Excellence in Writing for both composition and spelling and the principles and activities from RightStart Math for mathematics.
Learning the concepts of elementary math requires three steps: concrete, visualization, and abstract. Many times when a student does not understand a concept it is because the student has been expected to go to the abstract without working through the first two stages. Even teachers who understand that elementary math students need manipulatives often overlook the second step of visualization. I have tools that can be used to help the student work through each of the steps.
I also have great games that incrementally teach math drills and concepts, painlessly, so the student hardly realizes that he or she is learning.
And finally, when I work with a student, I also assess whether the student has some underlying foundational skills that are weak. If so, these can be addressed simultaneously with the math concepts and facts. Strengthening these weak skills will help the student catch on more quickly and truly remediate. Tutoring without assessing underlying skills is like using a crutch but never allowing the weak limb to be strengthened so it can work independently.
Teaching struggling students to read is my passion. Currently I am piloting a reading program I developed with ten struggling students. While teaching the students to read, I am simultaneously building their underlying skills to make reading accessible. For example, research has shown that a student can not learn phonics until he has a working memory (digit span) of at least five. Therefore, while teaching phonics, I will also address working memory otherwise our efforts to teach phonics will be useless. I will also look for visual-spatial hypersensitivity and if found, I will help the student become grounded in their visual perceptions. Finally, I will also look for and address, if necessary, any auditory and language delays the student might have, since these often go hand-in-hand for the struggling reader. I look forward to opening up the world of reading to your child through phonics and the underlying skills necessary to grasp phonics.
When a student struggles with reading, it is usually because he lacks the foundation skills that are necessary to succeed. With a quick assessment, I can usually identify what skills are lacking and hone in on them. For example, many students who struggle with reading, have a very low digit span. A student needs a digit span of at least five to catch on to reading and seven to master phonics. If a student lacks this ability to sequence, they will never succeed at reading. But the good news is that there are simple exercises to address this and other foundational skills that are weak.
Helping kids and adults become great readers is my passion.
Contact me today and I will send you an assessment via email. Once you have filled it out, we can discuss your student's needs to decide if I am the best tutor for your child. There is never any charge for this initial consultation.
As an international consultant to parents, teachers, therapists and doctors, I have had extensive experience in helping students overcome a wide variety of learning issues, such as: dyslexia, dysgraphia, ADD, ADHD, Auditory Processing Disorder, and Visual Processing Disorder.
In my own studio, I have used Audiblox, PACE (now Learning Rx), and the Ron Davis Dyslexia techniques. I use the best of each of these programs along with other exercises I learned as an Occupational Therapy Assistant, to tailor my lessons to meet the needs of your student as efficiently as possible.
Feel free to contact me and I will send you a questionnaire that will help determine if I am the best tutor for your special needs child.
There are a number of different reasons why a person might not be a good speller. I like to assess the student and see what the root cause of the spelling problem is. In just a few minutes, I can usually determine what area or areas need to be worked on to improve spelling.
Surprisingly, it is not usually that the student is weak in phonics that causes the spelling problems but that there is some underlying skill that is weak, such as sequencing or visual memory. This weakness makes the student unable to retain the phonics that he or she has studied. Once we address these foundational skills the student is quickly able to improve his or her spelling.
Best Tutor!! — Our daughter was struggling in school after a not so good 1st grade year (she didn't learn much). She has been struggling with reading so we decided to look into tutoring. I am so glad we did!!! We have been meeting with Ms. Barb for the past month and I have already noticed the changes in our daughter. She has gained some confidence back and her listening and learning skills are developing wo ...
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