1. MarcG
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    MarcG Contributing Member

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    Tutoring a child

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by MarcG, Dec 3, 2007.

    I was asked by a friend of mine to tutor his 10 year old who is having trouble in school. He is nearly equal in reading to his 7 year old brother. His largest problem is paying attention.

    He gave me a book he thought his son would like called "Dragon Slayers Academy: The New Kid At School" and I'm going to read it with him and ask him questions about it. It's part of a series so hopefully he'll like it and want to read the others. Anyone have any pointers? This isn't exactly something I do very often. :p
     
  2. lordofhats
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    lordofhats Contributing Member

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    Teaching the young is certainly a challenge. As young as I am I am experienced in teaching. As a black belt in my Shotokan Dojo my Sensei required me to teach and mentor any student who was udner my rank, weather they wanted the help or not.

    I would say that getting them to pay attention was always the most difficult part. To make matters worse the kids always gave me less respect because I was merely Senpai (sort of like a liuetenant), not Sensei. How did I get them to pay attention? Push ups for insubordination and disrespect, complements and encouragement for success, and never give them the answer straight out. Push ups probably won't work for reading though :rolleyes:.

    A book a child will be interested in is key. Nothing boring. What does a child find boring? I don't know. Don't let him coax you into doing it for him though. Make him sit there and work at it till he gets it right. Of course you shouldn't over do it. After an hour or two, I would say this strategy loses any and all benefit in the learning process. When he does it right, offer encouragement, when he does it wrong push him in the right direction without giving the exact answer.

    That's all I can give you. I assume the basic principles of teaching are universal cause the same strategies worked for me when I tutor people in shcool work.
     
  3. lessa
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    lessa Contributing Member

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    I taught a child with dyslexia to read and the main thing was to keep it fun.
    He was 5 at the time and about to be labelled as slightly retarded. The school didn't have the resources to test children for problems.
    First find out what his interests are. The book given to you may not interest him at all so have a backup book to pull out.
    Do not make the reading session too long, as you say his attention span is not that good.
    Have him read a page then you read a page and ask him questions about the book.
    Ask him about what problems he is having in school. It may be something simple like the kids tease him because he can't read. Explain to him that is why you are helping him learn faster.
    Also let him know it is not a punishment that he is working extra. If your sessions with him are being held as a punishment it will do no good for him since he won't work with you.
    Make up flash cards and make a game of them. Every time he gets 20 right give him a sticker or something he can hold in his hand as opposed to marks on a paper.
    Test him on your own to find out if he can spell. If he can't spell he can't read properly.
    Maybe the letters jump around on the page for him and he can't figure out where they are supposed to be.
    One way to do this is print out the alphabet and then have him print it out below yours. If the letters are the same no problem but if some letters are backwards or upside down he has a problem which will have to be handled by a professional.
    I was lucky as I am a mental retardation counsellor and had the skills necessary to teach someone with a learning disability so no stigma was attached to my teaching him.
    If it is just stubbornness then it will take a lot of perseverance on your part. But if you have a love of reading I am sure it will influence him in a good way.
    Another trick is bring comic books. what child of any age doesn't want to read those.
     
  4. lordofhats
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    lordofhats Contributing Member

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    This sounds much better suited to the situation than my suggestions.
     
  5. MarcG
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    MarcG Contributing Member

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    Hmm. Thanks for the suggestions. I'll definitely keep an eye out for some good comics - I used to read them alot, and I can see how they'd be more entertaining for him. :)

    I'll try and pick something up for a good reward that he'll like but won't make his brother jealous (unless I get him to read with us). Hmm. Candy won't exactly help with the attention problem. I'll take a look at stickers - maybe something along the lines of some dollar store junk I can get for cheap and let him pick from when he's done well.

    I don't think he's dyslexic - he's already recieved some personal attention at the school he's attending and I'm fairly hopeful they would've spotted that.

    And don't worry, lordofhats - your advice is more helpful than you'd think. ;)
     
  6. Domoviye
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    Domoviye Contributing Member

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    Stickers work well. I'm officially tutoring an 11 year old boy who doesn't like paying attention and unofficially his older sister, who speaks less English but is much a much better student. And they both enjoy the stickers. Makes them try a little bit harder.
    Anyways if you think he won't become embarrassed you might want to get his younger brother involved. I've found that when the boy and his sister are competing to answer the questions they do a lot better.
    But be very careful the boy doesn't get embarrassed if his younger brother does better then he does.
     
  7. Kit
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    Kit Contributing Member Contributor

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    One thing that works well for a friend of mine is like a chart with stars (he's 9) and then if he manages so many stars in a set time period he gets a prize like being allowed a mcdonalds, being allowed to stay up half an hour later one weekend, being allowed an extra hour on the games console/computer, being allowed to go swimming/cinema.... It can range from little things to big things depending on budget but of course something would have to be sorted to prevent jealousy from the little brother.

    When tutoring a child in reading that i've not worked with before, I usually choose three books with me that gradually increase in level and have different themes. I then start with the lowest ability book and see how they do, if its too easy then move them on to the next one.

    If the child reads comfortably then its important to test comprehension by asking a few simple questions to ensure that they actually understand what they are reading - don't make this an interrogation.

    If a child struggles with a word the best thing i've found is to let them try twice and then correct them. At the end of the session keep a record of problematic words and ensure they write each one out a few times (if there are more than 7 words choose the ones they should know!) as this helps future recognition.

    Above all, don't shout or project negative feelings. Reward the positive but don't punish the negative... some people just aren't as good and if you put them off now then they'll never learn. Reassure him, he can do it.
     
  8. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I'd avoid food rewards though. When children start associating food with success or reward, it promotes eating for mood, which can help lead to obesity or eating disorders.
     
  9. Gunslinger
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    Gunslinger Senior Member

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    Any means of positive reenforcement seems to be the trick.

    MarcG - Might I also add a big thank you for taking the time to help a young child. The world needs more people like you, and others that have posted on this thread.
     
  10. lessa
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    lessa Contributing Member

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    You are right Cog. Food rewards should never be used.
    The child fails and no treat, he passes and you load him with something not healthy.
    I always used a small toy. sometimes just something out the cereal box. (I always confiscated those) the boys got resigned to the fact that cereal boxes lied about toys inside)
    Or just some special thing he wanted.
    With me not working and Don being the sole bread winner in the house a lot of our fun was just that. No big expenditures but lots of canoeing camping hunting and just being together.
    The boys never suffered or wanted for anything but we always made sure life was full and fun.
    It has to be the same with the reward system with tutoring. Make it tangible but not overly excessive.
    One boy just loved the idea of high fiving whenever he did it correctly.
    Another liked a note to his teacher that he could move to the next lesson.
    One child who was in foster care and abused before that would hug me and get a hug back when he succeeded.
    So for rewarding you have to figure out what the child wants as a reward.
    they are all different.
     
  11. Domoviye
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    Domoviye Contributing Member

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    So I shouldn't be throwing candy at my students when they finally volunteer to speak? Whether they get it right or wrong.
     
  12. Kit
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    Kit Contributing Member Contributor

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    Lmao, Dom.

    I guess I do agree with Cog although a lot of my teachers at school use candy as a reward...
     
  13. lessa
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    lessa Contributing Member

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    used to drive me nuts when I took the kids to the dentist and as we were leaving the receptionist would hand them a sucker.
    sort of defeated the purpose.
    Drs. do the same thing.
    weird
     
  14. Kit
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    Kit Contributing Member Contributor

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    Lmao. Most I got from my dentist was a sticker...
     
  15. Raven
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    Raven Banned

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    I need to go to the Dentist.





    Bloody toothache
     
  16. lordofhats
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    lordofhats Contributing Member

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    That was my favorite parabout going to the dentist... but your right. Looking back is does defeat the purpose.
     
  17. lessa
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    lessa Contributing Member

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    Especially when mom suffers more than the child.
    I think she deserves the treat.
    life is not fair.
     
  18. lordofhats
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    lordofhats Contributing Member

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    lol :p
     
  19. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Wounding them with ballistic lumps of sucrose seems a bit extreme...
     
  20. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    It's called building up repeat business!
     
  21. Kit
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    Kit Contributing Member Contributor

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    Lmao.
     
  22. MarcG
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    MarcG Contributing Member

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    Mmmm. Lumps of sucrose. Doesn't sound quite so appetizing. ;)

    Thanks for the tips. I'm probably going to end up with a box of goodies from the discount store and pretend to do the sticker sheet trick. I'll probably just decide for myself whether or not he'll get something. It's much easier to coerce them that way. :cool:
     
  23. Domoviye
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    Domoviye Contributing Member

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    I only did it once. :(
     

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