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I like to help young children who have become discouraged or bored or frustrated, and have no hope of success left, to find joy in learning again, and to stir up enthusiasm for subjects that they'd grown to hate.
Children can easily come to hate a particular subject or learning in general. It could be because they've experienced a lot of failure, or because they've had a teacher who didn't care about them, or a teacher who has made them feel nervous or frightened, or because of the problems with Common Core. They can often get so discouraged they see no point in even trying any more, and just give up.
Those are the kinds of situations that I am good at correcting.
I started tutoring around 1980, mostly with homeschoolers. I've tutored children from Kindergarten to 8th grade as well as some high school students, both homeschooled and attending regular schools. I've also taught in some small parent-run and private schools.
I have a degree in Elementary Education from West Chester University (1987), summa cum laude, with teacher certification.
Most of my tutoring has been in beginning math and reading, which I find the most rewarding, but I have taught a wide variety of subjects and ages over the years. I've even had a couple of live-in tutoring jobs for homeschooling families where I taught just about all the subjects several days a week.
I'm a very patient and gentle teacher, so I am good with nervous or shy children.
I do not have one method of teaching that I always use. I believe each child is a unique individual, and therefore there cannot be one method that will work for everybody. I believe in adapting my style and methods based on the strengths and weaknesses and interests of the particular child I'm working with at the time.
My after-school hours are filled for this school year. I have morning and early afternoon hours available during the week, or else Saturdays!
I have a degree in Elementary Education from West Chester University, and I have been working mostly with homeschoolers, most of whom were in that age range, since about 1980. I have had some tutoring jobs in which I was hired to teach all the subjects, and lived with the family a few days a week. I've also taught those ages in some small, parent-run schools.
I have tutored math from beginning Kindergarten-level math, through high school level, since about 1980, and I have a degree in Elementary Education from West Chester University. Most of my tutoring has been for homeschoolers, but I have also tutored many children attending regular public schools.
If a child has become discouraged as a result of having done poorly in the classroom, I can help build up his confidence and enthusiasm about math. It is one of my favorite subjects to teach, and I try to make it as enjoyable for my students as it is for me.
I am especially good at teaching fractions.
The way I like to teach science is to do it using projects made from everyday materials and by acting things out to illustrate scientific concepts.
I believe that children can learn more by simulations then by using actual, working equipment. If you want to learn the techniques for working with scientific equipment, then it's important to use real equipment. But that should not be the goal in elementary science: few of the techniques of today will still be done the same way by the time they grow up. The most valuable thing is for them to know and understand the principles behind why things happen the way they do and how things work, and you do not need real scientific equipment for that!
One of the projects I've used is the "Tightrope Snowman": a balancing snowman made from Styrofoam and screwdrivers, which I use in teaching the principle of center of gravity. Another project is a bull's-eye game using a mirror to teach the principle of the angle of reflection. A pan of water can be used to show how sound waves reflect off certain surfaces and are absorbed by others. I use a flashlight to explain how a remote control works, as kids pretend to be a remote-controlled robot. A large grid on paper can provide a good way to show how a picture is transmitted to a TV while kids play the part of a transmitter or receiver, and the same grid can be used with a circular paper with letters and numbers on it to show how shows are stored on a DVD. I've used gumdrops and toothpicks to teach how atoms form molecules, star stickers to form constellations, a water balloon to show how glaciers can form lakes, and done other fun projects like those to teach kids about science.
I believe in using a very precise and analytical approach to English. It is important to be able to understand the part of speech and usage of each individual word in a sentence.
I find diagramming to be the best way to analyze and understand sentence structure, by adding a visual element to it and providing a clear way of organizing all the elements of a sentence.
Diagramming isn't all there is to English, though. Some other essential elements of English include a clear understanding of number and case (especially for pronouns), the proper usage of verbs (especially irregular verbs), and the correct use of punctuation and capitalization.
Besides diagramming, I like to use worksheets and flashcards, and also to have students do plenty of writing so that I can see the specific areas where they have the most trouble, so I can adapt my tutoring to the particular student's needs.
A thorough understanding of grammar is essential for the ability to communicate effectively in writing. Not only will a person who lacks skill in grammar be faced with a huge obstacle to making what he wants to say clear and precise, but people often simply dismiss what such a person has to say because using poor grammar can make a person sound stupid. Not only do I consider grammar very important, but I also find it interesting for its own sake.
The most effective way to study grammar is by breaking sentences down into small pieces: clauses, phrases, individual words and punctuation marks, and then analyzing the correct usage of every element making up the sentence. I find diagramming sentences to be extremely helpful.
I believe the best approach to grammar was that used by the "Voyages in English" series.
I like to teach guitar to elementary-school-age children. I teach classical-style guitar, which provides a good foundation for any style of guitar-playing.
I use standard musical notation to teach guitar, but I use little numbers as clues to the string and fret along with it (especially in the beginning) so it's not necessary for children to be able to read music before they can start. By learning to play notes on a staff rather than tablature or guitar notation, they'll be learning to play any written music, and not be restricted to music written specifically for the guitar.
When I teach guitar, I always begin with the 3 highest strings, which gives one full octave of notes they can play. I teach them to play some simple songs using those notes. After they have learned those 3 strings and can find those notes easily with the correct fingers, then I begin to add some of the notes on lower strings.
Once they're able to play single notes well, then they can begin to play 2 notes at the same time. This way they can begin to add some simple harmony to the melodies they play.
Gradually, they can begin to move up to playing notes higher up on the neck of the guitar, and playing more than 2 notes at a time.
I use an analytic approach to teaching handwriting, similar to the old Palmer Method. I split each letter into discrete basic shapes - circles, curves, and straight lines - and teach students to combine those shapes to properly form beautiful letters (as well as where each part of the letter goes relative to the lines on the paper). I use that same method whether I'm teaching printing or cursive writing. I also use the same method whether I'm teaching beginning handwriting, or teaching remedial handwriting to help students with illegible handwriting to write beautifully.
Music theory is not hard to understand when it is studied in an orderly way, one small step at a time. Here is the sequence I use in teaching music theory.
The first step in music theory is simply being able to read music, the names of the lines and spaces.
After that comes scales and keys. Once major and minor scales are understood, it's simply a matter of memorizing the keys.
Then there are the intervals: how they're formed and how to recognize the interval and whether it's perfect, major, minor, augmented, or diminished.
After that comes putting intervals together to build chords, how major, minor, augmented, and diminished chords are formed. And there are also inversions and 7th chords.
Finally comes which chords appear in the different keys, which chords in a key will be major or minor or diminished or augmented and why, and how it changes depending on whether it's in major or minor key. It's also good to know which chord sequences sound better than others.
Along the way, there's also rhythm: time signatures, note durations, and triplets and other rhythmic patterns.
The main use I personally have for music theory is taking a melody line and finding harmony for it, so I have to be skilled in understanding and using chords, and that is the main thing I concentrate on in teaching music theory.
I have done a lot of teaching of phonics, since around 1980. It was mainly with kindergarten and first grade homeschoolers, who had not yet learned to read. I've also done remedial reading with children who had not been taught any phonics in school and had very poor reading skills, having to rely entirely on guessing (mostly incorrectly) what words were, with no understanding of how to sound them out. I have a degree in elementary education from West Chester University, which included a course in reading instruction and practicum, in which I was working with a group of first or second graders, so that did include teaching phonics.
I prefer the Phonics/Linguistic Method, so, unless parents have other materials that they want used, I always use an old Lippincott primer I have for children to practice phonics, along with home-made flash cards. I find phonology interesting and I have done some study of that, which has given me a good, thorough understanding of the sounds of language, which is helpful in teaching phonics. I've always enjoyed teaching phonics because I've had a lot of success doing it, and I find it relaxing.
The way I like to teach science is to do it using projects made from everyday materials to illustrate scientific concepts. I've found that is a good way to make science clear and easy to understand. One of the projects I've developed is the "Tightrope Snowman": a balancing snowman made from Styrofoam and screwdrivers, which I use in teaching the principle of center of gravity. Another project is a bull's-eye game using a mirror to teach the principle of the angle of reflection. A pan of water can be used to show how sound waves reflect off certain surfaces and are absorbed by others. I use a flashlight to explain how a remote control works, as kids pretend to be a remote-controlled robot. A large grid on paper can provide a good way to show how a picture is transmitted to a TV, and the same grid can be used with a circular paper with letters and numbers on it to show how pictures are stored on a DVD, I use gumdrops and toothpicks to teach how atoms form molecules, star stickers to form constellations, a water balloon to show how glaciers can form lakes, and a lot more projects like those to show other scientific principles.
I have taught all areas of elementary math and enjoy them all, but my specialty is in teaching about fractions.
I've developed a way of teaching fractions which I have found to be very successful. I believe in breaking down all operations on fractions into small, very precise steps. The number of steps it takes increases as the problems become more advanced, yet they all remain just as easy to manage. That way even the most complex operations involving fractions can be simplified, so anyone can master them - even kids who used to find using fractions to be very challenging!
There are many different causes for children to have difficulty with reading, which must be handled in different ways. I always try to adapt my teaching methods to the needs of the individual student, which I can usually determine rather quickly. There is no one way of teaching that can work for everybody. Here are some of the ways of teaching I've used that have worked for the particular child I was tutoring:
There was one young student I had one time whose problem was that he would keep guessing at what the words were instead of trying to figure them out, and most of the time, he would guess the wrong word! To help him, I just had to slow him down a lot and force him to figure out every individual word using phonics. Eventually he got out of the habit of taking a quick guess at every word, and he was finally able to read with perfectly normal speed and accuracy.
I had another student, who was a homeschooler from a very large family. He was a 4th-grader and could not read at all. His parents were desperate to teach him to read, even trying to have him wear glasses (which he didn't need). After a couple weeks of working with him, I realized his problem was that he had always had a brother or sister around to read to him, so he never bothered to try to read for himself. For him, it just took some discipline and force to make him read for himself. That actually wasn't too hard, since he was so scared that his friends would find out that he couldn't read that he was already pretty motivated and didn't mind being forced to work if it meant he would be able to read like everybody else! It took only about 6 months to move him from pre-K all the way to 4th-grade level.
Another student had lived through a terrible tragedy, and got behind in school and was unable to catch up. In her case, it just took a lot of caring patience and personal attention and concern, and then she had no trouble slowly working up to being at full, normal grade level.
Another student did not have any particular problem except that he was a little slower than the other children in his class. So as the class moved on before he was able to catch on, he just kept getting further and further behind. In his case, the only thing he needed was to be taught normally and not rushed ahead, and then he was able to catch up to grade level reading.
I have had several students whose problem was remembering what they had just read. For them, I've found the best way to correct that problem was working on comprehension and retention of small segments, gradually getting larger and larger, until their comprehension was just as good as any other child their age.
Reading is my favorite subject to teach. I always try to make learning as enjoyable as I possibly can for the student too.
I have been teaching a creative writing course on-line for homeschoolers in grades 4 through 8 since 1999. That has given me a lot of experience in teaching writing to children all over the United States and Canada. There are problems with writing that are common to most children. Those problems can take some time and effort to work on, but they can be corrected and children can become fine writers.
The most obvious problems are are spelling and grammar, but those problems are better dealt with separately. It's helpful to point out errors in spelling and grammar and correct them in a written piece of work, but learning them belongs in separate subjects.
A major problem in writing that most children have is organization. They will often write down what they're thinking in a random order, instead of saying the first thing they want to say, finish saying it, and then move on to the next thing they want to say. They need to be shown which sentences belong together so they can put them all in the same place. For instance, a child might write: "Johnny was a 10 year old boy. His father's name was Mark and his mother's name was Mary. He was a very active boy. He had one sister and one brother. His favorite sport was baseball. His sister's name was Susan and his brother's name was Joe" He would need to be shown that some of those sentences belong together. He should rearrange them so the sentences describing Johnny are all together in one place, and the descriptions of his family are all together in another place.
Another problem that is common to most children is not using paragraphs. They can sometimes write page after page after page all in one long paragraph. This usually is also a problem with organizing. They need to be aware of the separate things they want to say, such as when they want to express a new thought or describe a new event, so they'll know when they've finished saying one thing and when it's time to start a new paragraph.
Things like this are usually problems because children don't even think about them when they're new to writing. They mainly need to be taught to keep those things in mind when they're writing.
Wonderful Teacher! — Rick has been tutoring our daughter since the beginning of 2014. We started with him for two times a week and then increased to three times a week because of the success our daughter, who is about to turn six, has had with him. In the fall parent teacher conference for her kindergarten class, we found out our daughter was struggling with reading and math. However, by the time the end of the Mar ...
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