A dramatic increase in tutoring for both public and private school students has been documented by recent news articles. While the work that some tutors perform can be very valuable in allowing students to learn content and skills that benefit them not only for the particular class they are taking but also for a lifetime of learning, some tutors have purportedly been paid by parents to actually do the students’ work for them. While this solution might seem to address the child’s problem in the short term, the child does not learn skills and how to function independently. As a result, in some documented cases, the child actually fails out of college because he or she does not know how to do the work, after having had it mostly done for them in high school.
In reaction to corrupt tutoring, many private and public schools are turning to more in-class work, to be sure that students’ work is their own. Many teachers are aware that students are receiving too much outside help, but it is often difficult to prove. Students and parents must of course also do their part to make sure tutoring or other outside help is ethical. In addition, students should realize that teachers are usually aware when the students’ in-class work is dramatically different than their take-home work, and colleges generally look out for college application essays that are so widely discrepant with the students’ academic record and scores on the ACT or SAT. In fact, one reason the SAT and ACT added writing sections was to assess how well applicants write on their own.
While a good tutor or learning specialist can help a student improve his or her core skills, tutors who do the work for students shortchange the students and wind up hurting them in the end. Here are some other practices to follow when students and parents turn to tutors for outside help:
Tutors Should Help with Skills
The right tutor will not only help a student with content for a particular class but will also help him or her improve core skills, such as reading comprehension, writing, and study skills, that last a lifetime. Sometimes, students simply don’t know how to study, and, for example, they try to cram for exams at the last minute. A good tutor can show students how to pace themselves and how to spread out their studying for optimal test results. This is the type of skill that will benefit students and help them become more independent and successful in later studies and in college.
Good Tutors Make Sure Students are Doing the Work
Good tutors, whether they work on academic or test preparation, such as for the ISEE or SSAT, make sure that students are doing their own work. They know that students learn the most from doing their work independently. Ethical tutors also work with schools and teachers, rather than hiding their work, to make sure they understand school assignments and that the students are following the teachers’ directions. In addition, tutors should never cross the ethical lines and culture of the school. Instead, they need to understand what schools allow—and what they don’t—and abide by these rules. The more familiar the tutors are with the schools, their assignments, and their cultures, the more useful tutors will be to students and the more likely they are to benefit students in the long term by making sure students are working independently. In fact, the best tutors make sure that their students won’t need them one day when they can do all the work on their own.
Dr. Blythe Grossberg has worked as a learning specialist in New York City for the past thirteen years. Formerly the Upper School learning specialist at the Collegiate School, she has worked with students in grades 5-12 and college students at top-flight private schools and at magnet and other public schools. Her clients include students with study-skills deficits and learning disorders such as ADD, Asperger’s Syndrome, and dyslexia. She also helps students prepare for standardized tests, including the ISEE/SSAT, SHSAT, PSAT, and SAT, and she works with high-school juniors and seniors to prepare their college essays and applications. She is also the co-founder of a new tutoring company called Themba Tutors- www.ThembaTutors.com. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Do you want experienced NY State certified teachers specialized in reading intervention supporting your child’s reading development at your home? Susan Littman, Jo-Ann Kalb, and Shelley Padilla will help your child become a more confident reader while addressing decoding (sounding out letters), reading fluency, reading comprehension, and encoding (spelling).
Sounds too good to be true but you have come to the right place. Our reading specialists are trained in a variety of approaches including Great Leaps, Sounds in Motion, Orton Gillingham, PAF, and Shelley Padilla is Certified Wilson Instructor.
If your child has additional oral language, receptive language, and auditory processing difficulties, our language specialists (licensed and certified speech language pathologists) address these issues in addition to reading and writing difficulties. Contact Craig at email@example.com & 347-394-3485 .
Meet our reading support staff:
Susan Littman is a NYS Certified Reading Specialist, a NYS Licensed English Language Arts Teacher, and a Literacy Coach, who has helped many students with reading difficulties in elementary and middle schools. Her education includes a Masters in Education from Teachers College, Columbia University, and a Masters in Literacy with a special focus on reading disabilities from Long Island University. She also has worked extensively in several District 15 schools, including in P.S. 321 and M.S. 821.
Initially, the process begins with an evaluation of your child’s readings skills, using standard reading assessments, personal observation and interaction with your child. Input from you, the parents, and your child’s teachers, is also vital to get a better understanding of your child’s strengths and struggles. Then, based on your child’s instructional needs and goals, Ms Littman will develop an individualized reading plan. This targeted intervention is customized to help your child make progress, whether the issues are decoding words and/or reading comprehension.
Ms Littman has created a welcoming space in her centrally located Park Slope brownstone where she sees students after school or on weekends. It is a quiet room where a child can concentrate and where distractions are minimized. Here, in this comfortable, supportive environment, Ms Littman will teach your child the strategies and skills s/he needs to become a confident, competent reader.
LOCATION: Home office at 399 2nd Street (Park Slope) and Ms. Littman makes Brooklyn home visits.
TYPE OF SERVICES: Initial reading evaluation, consultation with teachers and other involved specialists, individualized reading intervention plan
EXPERTISE: Students with phonemic awareness, phonics, and reading comprehension difficulties.
AGES: All ages.
HOURS: Flexible, after school and on weekends.
CONTACT: 917-287-3776 firstname.lastname@example.org
After a successful 30 year career teaching grades 1, 2 & 5 in Park Slope, including 10 years as a school librarian, Jo-Ann Kalb became a Reading Intervention teacher in 2003. Jo-Ann is currently a Reading Intervention teacher at PS 10 in Park Slope and is able to work with small groups as well as one on one. She received training in the following research based literacy programs: Great Leaps, Sounds in Motion, Rewards & Orton Gillingham based Wilson Reading and PAF. She uses a combination of programs and strategies gleaned from her long professional career to work with students who struggle with reading, phonemic awareness or dyslexia.
She offers one on one tutoring and group work. Jo-Ann typically recommends at least two sessions per week to see progress with a young reader who is struggling with decoding. She does an initial reading assessment prior to creating a treatment plan. I engage the family in the learning process and leaves follow-up work for the student to complete. Jo-Ann tailors the program to meet the child’s individual needs and provides all materials. She can also arrange after-school or summer groups using the Sounds In Motion program: a phonemic awareness program that takes advantage of children’s movement while learning consonant and vowel sounds.
Read more about her rave reviews!
LOCATION: Manhattan and Brooklyn (Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, Prospect Heights, Bay Ridge, Ditmas Park, Cobble Hill, Boerum Hill, Brooklyn Heights, and Fort Greene).
TYPE OF SERVICES: Initial reading evaluation, reading intervention using research based reading programs.
EXPERTISE: Working with children who have phonemic awareness problems and/or dyslexia.
HOURS: Home-Visits: Mon, Wed-Fri 3:30-7PM, Sat & Sun 10 AM-3 PM
Shelley Padilla is a New York licensed Elementary Education (Pre K, Kindergarten, Grades 1-6)/Special Education teacher earning a Bachelor of Science in Elementary and Special Education from Buffalo State College and a Masters of Science from Adelphi University in Mental Retardation and the Emotionally Disturbed. Padilla found her love for teaching by becoming involved in Special Education since an early age, working as a camp counselor in Special Ed camps, and subsequently has taught several types of special needs children in various school settings around the country, including self-contained classrooms for elementary grades and resource room for grades K-5.
Shelley Padilla has achieved Certified Wilson Instructor status, specializing in working one-on-one with Special Education students in grades 4-12 and has also trained in the Wilson Fundations Program; a phonics-based program for young children (K-3), and currently oversees and supports teachers using this program. Additionally Padilla is training other teachers in the Wilson Reading Program at a K-12 Special Education school on Roosevelt Island, NY.
Shelley Padilla excels at changing the lives of children that have difficulty in reading by allowing them to see how being a better reader can affect many areas of their lives especially in education. Padilla utilizes her skills to collaborate with teachers, therapists and parents in order to maximize the achievements of students in their educational and emotional needs. Padilla really knows how to make learning to read fun and exciting while showing her students all the possibilities available to them when they learn to appreciate the world of reading.
The Wilson Reading System directly and systematically teaches students to achieve success in reading. Unlike traditional phonics programs, Wilson Reading instruction is very interactive and multi-sensory, thus teaching total word construction and not just phonics. Students learn to encode (spell) and they learn to decode (take words apart) as part of their reading process. Evidence shows that when a direct systematic, code-based instruction is skillfully implemented by a Wilson Reading knowledgeable teacher, it is the most effective approach for problem readers.
The ability to read and comprehend depends upon the rapid and automatic recognition and decoding of single words. This is dependent upon the ability to segment words and syllables into phonemes (smallest unit of sound). This system is based on the multi-sensory language techniques and principals first described by Dr. Samuel Orton and Anna Gillingham.
LOCATION: Manhattan (Upper West Side, Upper East Side, Murray Hill, Gramercy Park, Clinton, Chelsea, Union Square), Queens, and Long Island.
TYPE OF SERVICES: Initial reading evaluation and reading intervention.
EXPERTISE: Working with children who have difficulty with decoding (deciphering letters when reading), reading fluency, and/or encoding (spelling) issues, including working with students with dyslexia.
AGES: Kindergarten through High School
HOURS: Home-Visits: Wed. after 4, Thurs. after 3, and weekends.
CONTACT: email@example.com & 917-719-6925.
Manhattan: $110-$130 per hour and either Jo-Ann Kalb or Shelley Padilla can work in your home.
Brooklyn: $100-$120 per hour and Jo-Ann Kalb works in your home.
Queens: $100-$120 per hour and Shelley Padilla can work in your home.
Long Island (Nassau County): $100-$120 per hour and Shelley Padilla can work in your home. She resides in Baldwin.
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Part 1: The Visual, Auditory and Tactile Senses
As a new parent to an 9-month old boy, I busy myself reading child development books and checking online resources, to assure myself that he is meeting his developmental milestones each month. While we are playing and having fun, I am assessing his emerging gross and fine motor skills, listening to his burgeoning language, and marveling at his cognitive gains. As an Occupational Therapist (OT), I have been encouraged to see that the books and online articles often reference the sensory skills that are developing in our babies; skills which continue to develop in children until their early teenage years. In this entry, I will discuss ways to support your child’s visual, auditory and tactile skills from an OT perspective. These are ideas that are easy to implement at home, and which can be enjoyed by children who are typically developing as well as assist those who are experiencing delays.
Definition: Our visual system allows us both to see and to interpret what we see. Developmentally, it is important for recognizing people, shapes, colors, and eventually letters and numbers. Socially, it helps us to read body language and facial expressions. For example, we must use our vision to guide our movement through the world safely and effectively.
Infants: Provide the baby with high contrast black and white images, bright colors (especially red and yellow), simple geometric designs, mirrors, and slow-moving mobiles. One of baby’s favorite things to look at is the human face (especially mom and dad). Books with pictures of faces are often interesting to babies and will stimulate their vision. As your baby grows, you can help their vision mature by presenting slowly moving items so that they have to track the item as it moves throughout their field of vision (first try horizontal movements, then vertical, then circular).
Preschool: Help your child learn shapes, colors, and begin letter and number recognition through activities like puzzles, blocks, and books. Children gain valuable “practice” with their visual system through activities such as rolling a ball, stacking blocks, pointing to pictures in a book, coloring and cutting with scissors.
School age: Higher-level visual skills are developing at this age, including figure-ground, visual discrimination, and visual memory. Hidden picture books (figure-ground), matching worksheets (discrimination), and games like Memory are all great for this age group. In addition to the school tasks of reading and writing, children can work on their eye-hand coordination at this age through mazes, connect-the-dots, and word searches.
For more information about the development of vision, visit the website of the American Optometric Association. It provides great information about what changes occur at each age and stage and development: http://www.aoa.org/x9419.xml
Definition: We use our auditory system (or sense of hearing) to identify both the quality and location of sounds in our environment. For example, our auditory sense alerts us so that we turn our heads when a car is approaching.
Infants: A baby is born with a very well-developed sense of hearing. Your baby can recognize (and prefers) the sound of parent’s voices. Talking to your baby is one of the best ways to help your baby’s auditory system develop. This can include your own singing, too! As young as one month, babies can remember sounds, such as a repeated lullaby. Parents should also talk to their babies as they go through their day, narrating what you are doing is a great way to introduce language. Babies respond to repetition, and to high frequency sounds (which is why many prefer female voices). As your baby begins to make her own sounds, repeat them back to her as this lays the foundation for the turn-taking of spoken language. Music, of course, is another strong auditory input that babies enjoy. This can be anything from classical music, to nursery rhymes and songs, to any music that mom and dad like! You can help your baby refine her sense of hearing by having her find (localize) a moving sound (slowly move a rattle or noisy toy). As your baby grows, introduce the following auditory/language concepts during play: animal sounds, names of colors, and counting (fingers, toes, blocks, etc.)
Preschool: Continue to explore music through playing simple instruments, learning finger songs, and singing. Playing with puppets and using different voices (high, low, silly, etc.) is a fun activity, and it also engages the child in pretend play. Have your child point to pictures in a book as you read it. Listen for and identify sounds in the environment (“that’s a car horn”, “hear the birds chirping”, etc.). Work on giving one-step, then two-step directions. As always, continue to talk to your child during your daily routines and continue to read books.
School age: At this age, you can help your child continually improve their auditory skills by giving him three- and four-step directions. Addressing the concept of voice volume may be an issue as children enter school, where they are asked to be quiet for long stretches of the day. Instead of expecting children to understand the term “inside voice”, a visual aid may be helpful. You can make a simple chart with the following information: 0 = silent, 1 = whisper, 2 = talking, 3 = yelling. Act out each volume with your child. Then, explain the rules of your home regarding when it’s OK to use each (i.e., yelling may be OK during play, or during an emergency; a whisper should be used at nighttime, etc.) One final piece of OT advice regarding school-age children and auditory input relates to that dreaded word…homework. My advice is to know how your child responds to noises and be aware how this impacts his/her focus during homework. Some children will require a quiet work space, away from distractions such as radio, TV, siblings, phone calls, or even a parent cooking dinner. However, other children thrive on “background noise” to help them. These kids may do well working at the kitchen table, or wearing headphones with music playing as they work.
To learn more about how your child’s hearing develops from in utero throughout childhood; visit the home of the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association: http://www.asha.org/public/
Definition: This is our sense of touch, which plays an important role in a child’s motor and social development. The tactile system provides information about the shape, size, and texture of objects. This information helps us to understand our surroundings, manipulate objects, and use tools proficiently. For example, you are using your tactile system when you reach into your pocket and find a quarter among several coins.
Infants: Touch helps promote parent-child attachment by giving your baby a sense of safety, security and love. Developing awareness of the nature and quality of a variety of tactile input also gives infant valuable information about the world around them, thus aiding their cognitive and fine/gross motor skills. Offer infants a variety of safe textures to explore (plastic or wooden toys, stuffed animals, soft blankets, “crinkly” toys, feely books, tactile mats, and tactile balls). Give her an infant massage (with or without lotion). Lightly rub her feet and clap her hands together. Expose her to different textures and sensations, such as a vibrating toy, a soft cloth, a feather, a scratchy piece of sandpaper or bumpy ball. Be sure to tell her what the textures are as you show them to her. Allow for some “naked time” every day, so that your child can feel textures on her arms, legs, back and belly. (If you are daring, you can go without a diaper for a while!) Also, be sure to have some supervised “tummy time” every day, so that your baby does not become too sensitive on her stomach (This position is necessary in order to prepare for crawling and develop upper body stability and strength).
Preschool: One activity preschoolers often enjoy is a sensory table (or at home, you can make a “sensory bin”). Fill a large plastic bin with a mixture of dried rice and beans, then you can hide small toys or “treasures”, puzzle pieces, or simply cups and spoons for empty-fill. Other fun suggestions include: modeling clay, Play-Doh, and finger paints. Don’t be afraid to let them get messy! They are working on developing their tactile awareness, as well as the small hand muscles needed for later activities such as handwriting. Finally, taking a nature walk to pick up and explore various outdoor items (leaves, rocks, petals, dirt, etc.) is a great way to enjoy a nice day, while promoting this important sense.
School age: The sense of touch is highly developed in this age. A few ways to challenge your older child to use and perfect this sense are: draw letters on his back with your finger and have him guess, fill a cloth bag with common objects and have him identify things (one at a time) without looking in the bag. Activities such as arts and crafts, stringing beads, and lacing cards can help children continually improved their tactile skills.
The neurological process that interprets sensations from the body and its environment is called Sensory Integration. The brain’s ability to process sensory information makes it possible to use the body effectively within any given environment.
The quick screening checklist below will help you assess your child’s sensory development. If you answer “yes” to one or more of these questions, your child may be experiencing difficulties with sensory integration:
• Was your child unusually fussy, difficult to console, or easily startled as an infant?
• Is your child over-sensitive to stimulation? Does he/she over-react to touch, taste, sounds, or odors?
• Does your child strongly dislike baths, haircuts, or nail cutting (screaming, crying, “melting down”)?
• Does your child use too much force when handling objects, coloring, writing, or interacting with siblings or pets?
• Does your child seem to have weak muscles? Does she tire easily? Does she prefer to lean on people or slump in a chair?
• Was your baby slow to roll over, creep, sit, stand, or walk, or to achieve other motor milestones?
• Is your child clumsy? (Does she fall frequently, bump into furniture or people, and have trouble judging position of body in relation to surrounding space).
• Does your child have difficulty following instructions or sequencing the steps for an activity?
• Does your child avoid playground activities, physical education class, and/or sports?
• Does he/she not enjoy age-appropriate motor activities such as jumping, swinging, climbing, drawing, cutting, assembling puzzles, or writing?
For further information on Sensory Integration and for children diagnosed (or suspected) of a Sensory Processing Disorder:
Check out Kids Health website for further information on the development of senses, as well as other great information: http://kidshealth.org/parent/growth/index.html#cat166
If your child is experiencing difficulty with any of these areas of development, please contact your pediatrician and/or an Occupational Therapist to assess if there is an underlying problem. Children develop at their own pace, with a wide range of normal regarding skill acquisition. If he/she has difficulty in several areas of sensory development, it may indicate a Sensory Integration Dysfunction.
Stay tuned for Part Two of this discussion, which will address the ‘hidden’ senses that are developing in your child.
Lynn-Marie Herlihy is an Occupational Therapist in private practice in Park Slope, Brooklyn. She has over 12 years experience treating children from birth to school-age, with a variety of sensory and motor deficits, developmental delays, and learning issues. You can also visit her website at www.BrooklynOT.com.
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