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for parents who have children with dyslexia

 "The SUCCESS of your students will depend upon your skills as a teacher," 

                                                                                                                               -Gillingham, A., 1956


How to choose a highly skilled tutor/teacher for a child with dyslexia who struggles to learn how to read, write, spell, and comprehend?


Your child with dyslexia cannot read and spell, or is struggling to read and spell so you need a tutor to teach him how to read, spell, and comprehend what he read, right?

Skillful teaching in reading and spelling requires expertise and the instruction must be direct, explicit, multisensory, structured, systematic, diagnostic, prescriptive, and cumulative but flexible phonics and research-based instruction.


In addition to learning to read and spell, continuous review of the learned concepts and practice for fluency is a must for your child to be an independent learner and a fluent reader.

highly skilled reading teacher should be able to teach with strategies to your nonreader or struggling reader to read and spell known words and words that he has not seen such as zim, vat, quab, blandish, and splatton, and be able to comprehend what he read and there should be visible progress within the first 15 sessions.

1. Education of the reading teacher. 

Perhaps, like other parents, you are looking for a reading tutor who is a "certified teacher," or "professional certified teacher" but here are our questions:  

a. Who is the reading teacher of your child? We assume that his reading teacher is a certified teacher because that is the typical requirement to teach.

b. If your child's reading teacher is a certified teacher, why he has not learned to read and spell correctly, meaning, why he cannot read words that he has not seen, is a poor speller, and has a problem comprehending what he read? His reading and spelling skills should be like his peers and he should be able to comprehend what he read - like his peers.


It is because your child's learning difficulties are beyond the capacity of a certified teacher to teach, even if she has a Master's degree in a certain field/s. What your child needs is a reading teacher with a specialization in the field of literacy intervention and remediation for individuals with difficulties in learning to read, write (penmanship), spell, and comprehend, but then again, education as a qualification is not enough.

2. Skills of the reading teacher.

What are the skills of your child's reading teacher/tutor?  Gillingham A. once said  "The success of your students will depend upon your skills as a teacher," 1956. During the process of choosing a reading teacher, you need to ask her these questions:

a. How do you teach your students to read and spell?  Your child's tutor's answer could be 'giving the instruction' to read, spell, and/or comprehend, but then again, the "giving the instruction"  answer is not enough. Most if not all nonreaders and struggling readers cannot connect the sounds even if they know some sounds. They also need specific strategies, rules, and techniques or "tricks & and tips, " along with the correct instruction that triggers their specific needs to learn effectively, to reinforce their learning, and not to forget what they have learned. Therefore you also need to ask your prospective tutor if she will teach your child how to connect the sounds and the rules of the language, strategies, and techniques. You can also ask follow-up questions as to how would you do that, can you give me an example? Consider this as teaching your child how to ride a bike or play hockey; if you do not give the correct instruction with the "tricks & tips" to your child on how to pedal the bike or how to hit the puck at the right angle, then those endless practices would not come into fruition. He cannot ride a bike properly and/or he cannot score a goal during his entire hockey life. Well, how do you know if she will give the correct instruction?


b. Then ask how you start teaching the student to learn how to read. The tutor's answer should be testing the child first to know what is his problem in learning to read and spell, then finding the solution to his problem. 

c. Follow-up questions: What's next, once you know the student's problem? How do you start tutoring? What is the process of your tutoring? Depending on the problem of the student but usually, the tutoring should start by teaching the student the phonemes (sounds) because the sounds are the building blocks for learning to read, write, spell, and, comprehend and this method applies to any language with an alphabetic writing system that represents language at the sound level such as English and French. Right after learning a few sounds, the tutor must teach your child how to connect the sounds, so that he can start learning to read, or else your child cannot read and spell words that he has not seen!

At some point, it is not easy to know if you have chosen the right tutor, you just have to gamble by signing up for a few sessions, and congratulations, your child has now a tutor! Your next step is to monitor the progress of your child's reading and spelling skills.

3. Monitor the progress of your child's reading and spelling skills.

How do you know if your child's tutor is an effective reading tutor?

a. If you are closely monitoring your child's learning, you will know if he is progressing because he can read words he has not seen with the concept that your tutor has already taught him.  

b. Ask your child!  You would be surprised by his answer. Once an eight-year-old student told his mom, "Mom Miss (name of the reading teacher) could teach Miss (name of his second-grade teacher)  a lot and way better in reading and spelling!" Guess what, he asked his teacher to receive literacy training so that she could teach better to her other students. Of course, the teacher was mad- Shame!

c. Most reading teachers or reading tutors nowadays are teaching online. Check if your child's tutor is giving him the correct instruction.  The English language is based on elemental sounds therefore he must learn the sounds of the English language correctly, or else he would have a problem connecting the sounds for reading and spelling. Check if the tutor is adding the short vowel a sound to the sounds of the following letters: c, k, d, f, g, j, l, m, n, r, s, t, and v,  such as /ma/ and /na/ because there is NO /a/ to these sounds. 

d. While learning to read and spell depends on the capacity of the student to learn, and the beginning lesson must be based on the findings of the reading assessment, there MUST be an improvement of your child’s reading and spelling skills, within, at least, the 15 (hours) sessions for one-to-one instruction. Typically, if the tutor is teaching simple one-syllable words like bag, tag, and wag, to a child with very mild dyslexia, who has just started learning to how to read and spell, and who already knows the basic sounds of the 26 letters of the alphabet, then, he should be able to read all similar words within this concept within an hour of the lesson even if he has not seen the words such as ag, cag, gag, dag, hag, nag, mag, rag, jag, yag, zag., etc. and if that child also knows how the sounds of the basic 26 letters of the alphabet look like, he should also be able to spell them without a problem because these words follow the rules of the English language or else, you've hired the wrong tutor-- the ultimate guide for finding an effective reading teacher! 

 e. If your child cannot read and spell the words above, your tutor is not giving him strategies, rules, and techniques to better your child and if the tutor is only reading words, sentences, and paragraphs with or to your child, then she is NOT teaching your child to read and spell but are only helping him to memorize words and you too can do that, for free... in the comfort of your own home. 

f. After the fifteen sessions (15 hours) of intervention and the child above still cannot read and spell some minimal words he has not seen such as vin, zim, kib, not only you are wasting all of your resources, but also, you are not helping your child to better himself. Change the tutor!

Also, there is  NO SUCH THING AS A QUICK FIX LITERACY INTERVENTION & REMEDIATION, even if you hire the best reading teacher in the world to help your dyslexic child to read and spell, let alone with other disabilities and disorders because English is a complex language to learn how to read and spell.


It takes several years of formal schooling to learn how to read and spell with approximately 180 hours - one school year of instructions for each grade level in regular schools for individuals without language difficulties and if your child has not learned to read and spell in a regular classroom then how would it be possible for him to reach his reading and spelling level quickly? Even a year of intensive intervention might not be enough to reach his grade level, particularly for grade two-level and up because it all depends on many factors such as your child's capacity to learn, the severity of his disabilities, how often he sees the tutor, and the complexity of the concepts of the English language, etc.

We have a list of reading and spelling concepts that we arranged from the easiest to the most difficult word patterns. Although it is not comprehensive, at least, it will give you an idea of what  he should learn and help you to be realistic about your child's reading and spelling goals 

Now, what kind of reading program is the best and the most effective for your dyslexic child?

 Your decision today is your CHILD'S tomorrow!

Multisensory Reading Clinic Dyslexia Therapeutic Tutoring Service Learning Center 100% Success rate Learning to read, Ruth Tougas, Orton-Gillingham Tutor, Reading Specialist, Literacy Specialist, Montreal, Laval Quebec

Multisensory Reading Clinic Dyslexia Therapeutic Tutoring     Orton-Gillingham Instruction

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