Cole came to me at the end of his 1st grade year. He was defeated and “hated” to read. His mother was beside herself as well, since he was in danger of repeating the grade. They were also arguing every morning to get out the door. This is a situation that most tutors face with a new student. They were basically asking me to “save” him from retention and make up for all the skills that were missed for the first 9 months of the school year. A daunting task, but one I was ready to take on.
I started the first session with Cole by playing the “I Like” game. He liked everything I threw at him, except reading. I found out after some assessment that Cole was having trouble remembering key high frequency words. He would try to sound out every “you” and “when” that came his way. This kept him from comprehending and moving forward with his reading skills. However, I also learned that Cole loved to be read to. His parents were reading Harry Potter to him, and he could retain and retell every chapter. I really worked with Cole to find appropriate books that he liked and worked on those high frequency words with stories that he actually wanted to read. This is something that is great about tutoring. I could focus solely on his progress and work with books that were perfect for him and kept his interest.
Cole is now in 3rd grade. I still tutor him weekly and we are always finding something new to work on. He did not repeat 1st grade, and ended the year reading on grade level. Luckily, all Cole needed was consistent weekly tutoring and some confidence. I think, however, I learned the biggest lesson of all. I learned the power that I had to influence Cole’s love of reading. It is so much more than teaching a skill in order to pass the grade. The relationship between a tutor and student is very special, and can influence the student’s whole education.
Cole learned to love reading. By teaching him the skills he needed, he was able to catch up to the level of books that he liked his parents to read to him. His mother says that she can’t get him to put his books down to eat dinner. To me that is a success!