Blogs About Reading

Sound It Out

Dr. Joanne Meier

Along with her background as a professor, researcher, writer, and teacher, Joanne Meier is a mom. Join Joanne every week as she shares her experiences raising her own young readers, and guides parents and teachers on the best practices in reading.

Summer tutoring: How's it going? Four considerations.

July 3, 2008

Is your son or daughter working with a tutor this summer? Now that July has begun, it's a great time to evaluate your tutoring situation. It's not too late to make a few simple changes that can make a real difference in the remaining tutoring sessions.

First, did your tutor gather baseline assessment information about your child's performance? It may have been a spelling inventory, a running record, a timed reading, or a word list inventory. Hopefully your tutor gathered enough good information to help him or her design each tutoring session to target specific needs. If you haven't seen the assessment information, ask for it!

Second, is there consistency across tutoring sessions? It's often helpful if your tutor uses a lesson plan with the same components each time they come. For example, lots of lesson plans start with a warm up activity (maybe re-reading), some assisted reading and writing, some word study or word-level work, and then end with the introduction of new text or a reinforcing game. Consistency helps your child know what's coming, and can help the tutor develop some long-range plans.

Third, how's it going? Does your tutor continue to gather information about your child's progress? This is often called progress monitoring. You can and should expect to see some changes in performance based on tutoring. A simple timed-repeated reading graph will provide information about words correct per minute. Watching the bars go up each time is reinforcing to your child. If your tutor is not seeing growth or change in your child's performance, she needs to change what she’s doing. This is no time for flat growth curves!

Last, how are you supporting your tutor? Are there books you can read in-between sessions? Maybe there's a word study game you can play together, or a field trip you can go on to support the vocabulary learning.

Working together as a team can really help your child understand how much you value and appreciate the hard work they're doing with the tutor.


I tutor students over the summer & am pleased to say that I meet all 4 considerations. Thank you for keeping me on track!

Wonderful tips for parents! I am tutoring two students (a brother & as sister) using Beacon Literacy Development one-on-one system, and will be changing things for the older sister, as she will need to focus more on her fluency & higher level comprehension than basic reading skills. We will still be using the Beacon system and methods, but will be adding Brigance Building Reading Skills to our materials. The brother, though, is a perfect fit to stay right on track with the Beacon system. I am constantly focusing on how they are doing and what progress these two are making, and will be testing them after about 20 sessions; at that point, we will make a decision to whether or not continue with tutoring sessions. I am lucky, too, to have parents who will be letting the chilren's teachers know what we are working on and who do a wonderful job of ensuring that the my students complete their practice assignments in between sessions. Good communication, positive reinforcement, constant monitoring, and willingness and ability to adapt to the student - absolutely essential!

Great post. This true in both online and offline tutoring. On our online tutoring platfrom ( we have also found that tutors that use this approach get better results and have higher parent/student satisfaction.

One of the services we offer is tutoring. We have found that during the school year most parents are more interested in homework helper type of support. They are eager for their youngster to stay on grade level, complete assignments, and be prepared for class. They tend to have less interest in providing basic skills and filling in the missing pieces, so to speak. Many times their youngster lacks a solid foundation upon which to build his or her current skills. We try to identify this as we work with the child on their current assignments. Valerie Allen, Ed.D.

Add comment

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
"Writing is thinking on paper. " — William Zinsser