How We Are Different From Tutors
Tutoring students versus remediating a learning difficulty are very different, though there is certainly a place for tutoring. For example, if a student has a mild weakness or is falling behind in a particular subject area, or needs some assistance with homework or work habits, then tutoring can indeed be helpful.
At the same time, there are many students who, regardless of age and grade, have been struggling for extended periods of time with core literacy areas including – learning to read and spell words; reading for meaning; expressing their thoughts in writing or understanding even basic math concepts. Despite having a tutor or receiving help at school, learning is not easy for these students and they need a different approach. For these students, intensive remediation with the appropriate program helps close the gap between themselves and their peers. Many of the students seen at The Reading Foundation have had several years of previous tutoring and yet made only small gains during that time. At The Reading Foundation clinics, the intensity of our teaching and the specific programs we have written typically bring marked improvement in a relatively short time, and this becomes very apparent in the student’s heightened confidence and self-esteem.
While tutors tend to be generalists who draw on a wide range of approaches that are not necessarily scientifically validated, the remedial programs at The Reading Foundation are all based on solid, up-to-date literacy research. Dr. Truch specialized in learning during his graduate years and gained experience with a variety of approaches to the teaching of reading during his 12 years as a school psychologist. He was instrumental in writing and developing all our remedial programs and continues to keep abreast with the many research studies done on literacy. As a result, our remedial programs are regularly “refreshed” (as are our clinicians) to reflect what are “best practices” validated from that research. The training and implementation of our staff is overseen by our Team Leaders, who all have many years of experience with our programs and with our students and who ensure the fidelity of remedial instruction in all our clinics.
The programs at The Reading Foundation are very comprehensive, very extensive and very focused. They are sequenced and structured and involve a lot of direct instruction as well as discovery, so the approach is not one of “skill and drill.” While tutors typically see students once or twice a week and often in the student’s own home, we ask students to attend the clinic each day for four hours for the number of weeks our pre-testing shows they need. While this routine can be logistically challenging, the outcomes for the student are well worth it. The existing research and our own clinical data indicate the optimum delivery of a remedial program is with intense, one-to-one, daily immersion. A part-time and/or sporadic tutoring routine will not generally bring the outcomes that are needed to truly improve a student’s long-standing learning difficulty.
Success in reading and math are universally acknowledged as necessary for every student. Our remedial programs and our delivery approach bring strong gains in a short period of time. Once the intensive portion of any of our programs is completed, we will make every effort, including school visits, to assist with implementing follow-up reinforcement strategies for the student, parents and school.