January is the time of resolutions to ensure a better new year. Since we’re all pushing the reset button after a little bit of holiday slacking, let’s look at some New Year’s resolutions that could help make your child – or maybe yourself – a better reader or a student.
Don’t put it off – get help now.
This resolution is aimed at parents who have been concerned about their child’s performance in school but have taken a wait-and-see attitude. Well, you’ve waited. Are grades betting better? Has your child’s reading picked up? Is there a better attitude toward school?
If the answers are yes, great! Your child has found a path to success. If not, it’s time to find help.
The same applies to adults who have long felt that their lack of reading skills has held them back in their jobs. Start making a change now.
“Every year we get a huge spike in calls and emails during the first weeks of the year from people potentially wanting services,” says Lawrence Kloth, co-founder of Reading Success Plus. “This is a time when people are re-evaluating their situations. ‘What is going on with my child? Do we need to get evaluations or tutoring?’
Many callers are asking about the RSP summer intensive programs. But why wait?
“Kids can come so far with six months of tutoring,” Lawrence says. “Especially for older kids, waiting until summer means lost time and six months more of frustration.
“This is a great opportunity to start something new, to start making progress now. Don’t let your child fall further behind and make their struggle longer and more difficult.”
For those already in tutoring, the best way to make progress is to just show up. Reading Success Plus – as well as the Barton Reading and Spelling System – recommends two hour-long tutoring sessions a week. Some students have done more, and their progress accelerated proportionately, but twice weekly works best for most students and their families.
We realize that family calendars are full, and outside activities such as music, sports, and dance cut into a student’s free time. In those cases, consistent once-a-week tutoring will keep the student moving ahead, although at a slower pace.
But, if possible, avoid the extended breaks that run for weeks or months. Doing so halts progress and sets most students back.
“The kids, especially those with memory problems, which so many of our students have, struggle getting back into the flow of it,” Lawrence says. “Kids will take three-week breaks, then spend almost that much time reviewing and trying to get back to where they were.”
Instead, try to squeeze in one tutoring session a week. With our online options, we should be able to help find a time that works.
On a related subject: If you can’t make a scheduled lesson, please let the tutor know. Reading Success Plus asks that you provide a two-hour notice for cancellations.
Practice sight words – if you want to.
Parents often ask what they can do to help their children at home. The Reading Success Plus program doesn’t have homework or take-home assignments. But parents can help with sight words, though this is strictly optional.
Your tutor can demonstrate the techniques Reading Success Plus uses for sight words and give you the words your child is working on. This practice should take three to five minutes at the most. Again, this is a choice, not a requirement.
Give the child time to process information.
One of the characteristics of some learning disabilities is the inability to process information quickly. That doesn’t mean the child is being stubborn, deliberately inattentive, or stupid. That just means the child needs more time.
“So be very, very patient,” Lawrence says. “It might seem painfully slow, but when they get it, they get it.”
For many of our students, the most useful accommodation they can get from their school is additional time to complete a reading, assignment or test.
“So, give your child time,” Lawrence says, “just like you’re hoping their teachers are giving them time.”
Communicate with the school and your child.
Staying in touch with teachers regularly is beneficial no matter how your child is doing in school. On the one hand, if a problem does come up with your child, you will know right away, allowing you to deal with it at an early stage.
And, if all is going smoothly, your already-established relationship will make communication easier if an issue does arise. Don’t let your introduction to a teacher be a crisis report.
Pay attention to your child’s emotional needs.
Look beyond the report cards and the grades posted in the school’s online portal. Does your child seem happy, or do you see a lot of stress? Are they fighting going to school more than usual? Are they showing unusual anger or sadness?
“Talk to them,” Lawrence says. “If they trust you, they will sing like a canary. If it’s a problem at the school, you could tell the teacher or principal, ‘Something’s off with my child. Is there something going on?’
“Maybe it’s bullying or other social problems that don’t show up on the school’s online grading reports. Can the school provide counseling to help, or would outside counseling be needed?”
Help them find success.
Prolonged struggles in school almost always lower a child’s self-esteem. That’s one of the benefits of tutoring.
“By tutoring, you’re working on their weaknesses,” Lawrence says. “Over time, the student will realize, ‘Wow, I don’t stink at spelling anymore,’ or, ‘Hey, I don’t stink at reading.’ Tutoring addresses the academic problems that are causing the child’s low self-esteem.”
But self-confidence also can be built outside of school. “It’s important for children to find something they’re passionate about. For me, sports were a huge help,” says Lawrence, who has dyslexia and ADHD who struggled through much of his school career. “What could that be? Athletics, music, drama, something that makes them feel good about themselves and that their peers can look at and say, ‘That’s cool.’”
Reading Success Plus has offices in Grand Rapids and Troy and offers one-on-one tutoring online or in person in reading, math and writing. You can get more information at readingsuccessplus.com. To contact us, call 833-229-1112 or go online to https://readingsuccessplus.com/#contact.