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Reading is not a natural process. Written language is a code. At Tutor Tots, we teach the students how to crack the code. Certain combinations of letters represent certain sounds. We teach students to connect the sounds to the letters to decipher words. Knowing how to decode is essential, in order for students to become fluent readers or to understand what they are reading. Also, students may look like they are decoding, but they are actually using pictures to correctly guess words. Guessing is not an efficient way to identify new words.
What happens to students who have difficulty reading? The answer is they start to fall behind in school because the reading material gets more difficult as the grade increases, resulting in an unrewarding reading experience. The cognitive resources a student needs and uses to recognize a word leaves little left for comprehension, so the meaning of the reading passage is lost. At Tutor Tots, we teach a blending of the phonemes and graphemes to get students reading. For example, s/a/t (three sounds to form the word "sat"), but then we look at s/a/ck (still three sounds but "ck" makes the "k" sound). We teach some of the rules needed to decode and help with writing. For example, s/a/ck, s/o/ck, and p/i/ck (the "ck" to make the "k" sound is at the end of a word that has a short vowel). For a long vowel, such as m/a/ke, the "k" sound is not "ck" but rather Bossy E. The student must also be able to recognize a phoneme in different words. For example /d/ in "dog," "dish," and "mad." We also teach blends, digraphs, Bossy E, Bossy R, soft and hard g, soft and hard c, vowel teams and much more to build reading and writing skills.
Studies show that only 1-7% of students figure out how to decode on their own, and even if your child is one of those, Tutor Tots can help fill in the gaps of spelling patterns or words he/she has not encountered yet. Once students learn to decode words, their confidence is boosted, and they become more excited about their educational journey.
The program also incorporates reading comprehension, spelling, and writing skills to assist students with understanding what they have read. Of course, school homework is the priority, and we only implement our program when the student does not have any school homework to complete. We also use the curriculum expectations, as set out by the Ministry of Education, to ensure students are headed towards or meeting those expectations.
What about older students? For older students, we focus on reading fluency (reading out loud with guidance and feedback) to assist reading. We work on vocabulary because studies show that when students truly understand the words, they become automatic recall for them. We teach comprehension strategies (analyzing, summarizing, question asking, inferences, parts of a story, et cetera), and how to extract answers from the reading passage and put those thoughts down on paper. We pay attention to writing such as opinion and persuasive writing paragraphs and essays, as well as decoding words and reviewing spelling rules to assist with writing
Important: Many struggling students start to lose their confidence. They start to ask themselves why others "get it" and they don't. They start to recognize they are not doing as well as others, resulting in less hand raising in class and withdrawing themselves from anything that involves participation. Alternatively, they start lowering their expectations for themselves, in an effort to protect themselves from poor grades. They will say, "I'm not good at reading." These words become a "defence mechanism," protecting them from any poor grades they may receive, but these words can also create a barrier to learning because students no longer have higher expectations for themselves. For some students, when they reach this point, pushing them beyond this newly-acquired comfort zone can be very difficult.
So, at Tutor Tots we not only focus on teaching the skills required, but we also focus on building self-confidence, teaching students how to handle setbacks and how mistakes are just another opportunity to learn. We help students replace poorer habits and negative self-talk with better habits and more positive thinking.
Studies have shown that most students consider math to be the most difficult subject. The issue with math is that it takes a lot of patience and persistence. Math topics need to be reviewed and studied continually. Math is not about "brainpower" but is more about "staying power." It's about persisting with the topic until it is understood. Unfortunately, when it comes to understanding the math topics, often time will run out and the teacher will have moved on to another topic. Math is cumulative. It's like a stack of building blocks. You have to understand one topic in order to "build upon" the next. Studies show that students in middle school with C's in math have learned about half of what they need to know for high school.
At Tutor Tots, we know the importance of the fundamentals required to be successful in math. While many teaching professionals do not agree with rote or memory work, at Tutor Tots we believe that this type of work has a place for many math students, especially when learning multiplication. A team of American and Japanese neuroscientists found that when young math students memorize the basics, their brains begin to reorganize to accommodate the much greater demands of more complex math. Their studies show that while it is a gradual process, rote memorization is a key step toward efficient mathematical reasoning.
It is important to understand that we are not advocating memorizing all math concepts because with just memorization, application to different scenarios becomes difficult. We teach students to understand the concepts and why they are doing what they are doing first. We then teach them how to store the facts in their minds so that they can repeat them later.
In addition, young students are often told that multiplication is simply repeated addition. This is a concept that students will soon find out does not always work. While multiplication of natural numbers gives the same results as repeated addition, Multiplication is Repeated Addition, or MIRA, does not work for fractions, irrational numbers, et cetera. You cannot multiply 5 kg by 2 g using repeated addition because you have to convert the units of measure first.
At Tutor Tots, we strive to ensure that students understand the key concepts, such as addition and subtraction with regrouping, multiplication, division, and word problems. We implement different strategies and provide students with many different resources to improve their math skills.
Of course, school homework is the priority, and we only implement our program when the student does not have any school homework to complete. We also use the curriculum expectations, as set out by the Ministry of Education, to ensure students are headed towards or meeting those expectations.
French and Science Programs
Tutor Tots also offers French and Science tutoring.
Fees *Fees include access to Members Only resources.
Tutor Tots - Private (English & Math) - SK to Grade 5
Fees: $40/hour and $30/45 minutes (plus HST) Class Length: 1 hour or 45 minutes (depending on age and needs of student) Type of Tutoring: Homework help, writing, spelling, reading comprehension, math, EQAO preparation, and test preparation for students from SK to Grade 5.
Tutor Plus - Private (Math) - Grade 6 to Grade 8
Fees: $40/hour (plus HST) Class Length: 1 hour Type of Tutoring: Homework help, test preparation, teaching and learning concepts, and EQAO preparation (if applicable).
Tutor Plus - Private (English)- Grade 6 to Grade 8
Fees: $40/hour (plus HST) Class Length: 1 hour Type of Tutoring: Homework help, comprehension strategies, spelling, writing, reading fluency
Tutor Plus - Private (Math) - High School
Fees: $40/hour (plus HST) Class Length: 1 hour Type of Tutoring: Homework help, test preparation, and teaching important concepts.
Tutor Tots/Tutor Plus - Private - French & Science*
Fees: $40/hour (plus HST) Class Length: 1 hour Type of Tutoring: Homework help, comprehension strategies, spelling, writing, reading fluency. *Any grade, including high school Chemistry and Physics.
All children need is a little help, a little hope, and people who believe in them.