How Do you Know what to Teach Kids that are Struggling with Reading?

I get asked this question all of the time.  Well, even though each child's reading difficulties may come in many different forms and in different areas, I am able to look at how they succeed with the 5 pillars of reading.  If there is an area that they are specifically struggling with, then I provide instruction in that specific area.  I love being able to help all kids who struggle with reading and make it easier for them.  Most kids who I have worked with has had a strong desire to get better.  This makes instructing them extremely easy.


Here are more details about each of these pillars.  Does your child struggle in any of these?



The 5 Pillars of Reading Instruction

Explore more infographics like this one on the web's largest information design community - Visually.

Rhymes vs. Rimes

Rhymes vs. Rimes

We've been listening to rhymes ever since we were little babies, but did you know that rhymes can actually turn us into better readers?  Being able to hear rhymes is a phonological task and pre-reading skill.  If your child is able to hear rhymes, then when she sees rimes, she will be able to read many new words.

You may be wondering what the difference between a rhyme and a rime is.  Well a rhyme is a word that sounds the same at the end.  A rime not only sounds the same, but it is spelled the same as well.  For example, "star" and "are" rhyme, but they are not rimes.  Star and far would be rhymes and rimes.

There are 37 most common rimes.  Just knowing these 37 rime patterns can result in a child being able to read over 500 words.  Here is a list of them.






































The most common way to use rimes, is when a child is struggling with reading a new word.  For example, if a child came across the word light and she knew the word night, then you could say, "If you know night, then you know ______."  The child would chime in, "light".  You can teach additional words by saying, "If I take away the l and add an s, what word do you have?"  The child would respond, "Sight."  This is a fun game that can be played on a dry erase board or chalkboard.

Most of these patterns will fit on the vowel pattern chart as well.  Here is an example of the chart with a word from each of the patterns.






















Open Silent E










Bossy R





Two Vowels





C + le

The patterns that are not on the chart need to be memorized.  These patterns are

  • -all
  • -ank
  • -ight

Tomorrow we will take a look at what this vowel pattern chart is and how it helps kids utilize phonics the easy way.

P.S. Did you know that kids that have dyslexia struggle with hearing rhymes?  This is one of the ways to determine if a child has dyslexia.


It All Starts with the Right Reading Assessments Part I

It All Starts with the Right Reading Assessments Part I

For the next month you are going to get the first peak at my program called Phonics the Easy Way.  All of the content will be shared on these

pages and you will learn everything that you need to know about teaching children phonics.  Our English language can be quite complicated, so it is going to be my goal to demystify this complicated process into small bits and pieces that are easy to understand.

It all starts with assessment, but not just any kind of assessment.  It starts with specific assessments that meets the needs of your child.  Another name for this is diagnostic assessment.  For instance, if you know that your child knows all of the letters of the alphabet, then it would be fruitless to test this skill.  Here is a list of skills to think about that children need in order to learn how to read.

1.  Rhyming

2.  Blending sounds

3. Segmenting sounds

4. Letter names - Capital and Lowercase

5. Letter sounds- lowercase

6. Sight Words

In order to be ready to read it helps to be able to do most of these skills.  Rhyming, Blending sounds without letters and segmenting sounds without letters fit into the phonemic awareness category.  These are prereading skills that help a child to start learning about the reading process.

Our brain is a pattern detector.  One of the first reading patterns that we develop is the ability to rhyme.  Later on kids will be able to use their knowledge about words they know to figure out new unknown words.  Kids that are in 2nd grade and are unable to produce rhymes and identify rhymes are at risk for reading at grade level.  So whether your child is just starting out in reading or is struggling with reading, you will want to check if they are able to produce and identify rhymes.  Here is a rhyming assessment I have created that you can use.

Another phonological skill that is useful for kids to master is blending sounds with out letters.  This is not an activity that is done with letters, it is only done with sounds.  For example, if I said /c/ /a/ /t/, then you would put it together and make the word cat.  Once one adds letter to this activity it becomes a more advanced skill.  So, in the beginning it is important to do this without any letters.  Here is a blending sounds assessment to identify if this is a skill that your child has mastered.

A more difficult task is to give the child a word and have her tell you each of the sounds.  This activity is called segmenting sounds.  Sometimes a child will get just the first sound and not the rest of the word.  This will count as a point for the child.  Here is a segmenting sounds assessment that you can use with your child.

Rhyming, blending, and segmenting are some of the pre-reading skills that kids need to master before they can learn to read.  These skills will help them with the more complicated tasks they will be required to do once they start putting letters and sounds together to make words.  If your child has not mastered one of these skills, then you will want to provide instruction in that area and reassess once you think that your child has mastered it.

Have you ever known a child that has struggled with these skills?  What was your experience.  What are some things that you did to help him/her to master them? Tell me about it in the comments section.

Tomorrow we are going to begin to take look at letter name, letter sounds, and sight word assessments.  You will also learn how to do ongoing assessment to determine how much each child has learned and if the instruction that you are providing is working.


How Online Reading Tutoring is Magical like Walt Disney World

How Online Reading Tutoring is Magical like Walt Disney World

Last week my family and I spent the entire week at Disney World. We spend 6 days in 4 different parks and had a magical time. So naturally, my mind is still on Disney as I sit here and reflect about my business as an online reading tutor and how it is like the magic that happens at Disney. I have found that Disney and my online reading tutoring business make everything convenient, provide friendly service, add excitement with the use of techonology, and both are just plain fun. Let's take a look at each of these areas and see why I feel that way.


Everything at Disney was just plain convenient. They provide transportation for you everywhere. You take the monorail in, they have buses, trams, boats, strollers, and motorized wheel chairs. These make moving around the parks very convenient. They also have the fast pass. The fast pass at Disney is unlike other fast passes at other parks. Everybody has the ability to use them so that you don't have to wait in long lines. You just go to the ride, decide if you want to wait or get a fast pass. If you get the fast pass, then you can do whatever you want and come back at the front of the line. We did this with Soaring in Epcot and skipped a 45 minute wait.

So you may be thinking, great Disney is convenient, but how in the world is online reading tutoring convenient. Well, for one, you don't need any transportation to get to your online reading tutoring session. You turn on your computer and begin your session. You don't even have to sit and wait by your computer. You can turn on Skype do something else and the Skyping Reading Tutor calls you when it is your turn at your designated and agreed upon time.

Getting tutoring from the Skyping Reading Tutor is very similar to the Fast Pass. When you go to other facilities, of which we will not name here, it can take at least 36 hours of tutoring to move your child up a full year. This is very costly in the end. For the same price as these other options your child can make a full years growth with just 8-12 hours of instruction. Even if, he/she has dyslexia. Now that is the Fast Pass.

Friendly Service

At Disney, everyone treats you like you are one of their family members. They treat you with respect, spoil you, and smile. As the Skyping Reading Tutor I put these same principles in place. Sometimes you have had a long day, you need to make dinner, and get your kid settled at the computer. No matter what kind of day I have had I know that it feels warm and welcoming when you are treated with respect on the other side of the computer and have a tutor that is eager to help your child with reading. The happier your child is to come to his/her reading tutoring session the better. So I always try to make it fun and make your child smile during the session.


What could be more fun than Disney? I am not really sure. What I was amazed at during this trip was that the imagineers even made waiting in line fun. They had interactive games that you could play and games where you had to work as a team with the other people in line. Even though I was exhausted. I found myself jumping up and down, leaning left and right, and waving my arms to help my team win while waiting in line at Soaring in Epcot. (There were no more fast passes available the first day we were there, so we decided to wait in that line). Waiting in line had never been so much fun. Even though I didn't want to wait in line, while I was there I was engaged and having a great time.

I like to think that is what it is like to recieve online reading tutoring. No kid wants to have to have tutoring, but while they are there I want to make sure that they have as much fun as possible. The Skyping Reading Tutor gives kids choices of what they get to read while they are working together and utilizes top notch technology just as Disney does. What could be more fun than choices, cool technology, and the ability to speed through reading levels like a video game? Probably Disney, but I like to think that the Skyping Reading Tutor comes next.

There you have it. Both Disney and the Skyping Reading Tutor are convenient, provide friendly service, and are fun. If you don't believe me, then what others have to say from their own experience. You can find testimonials at the bottom of my about page.

P.S. on a personal note, our favorite place was Epcot. What is your favorite Disney park?



5 Early Warning Signs to Identifying Dyslexia

5 Early Warning Signs to Identifying Dyslexia

Dyslexia is a learning disability that affects the way the brain processes words and symbols.  As soon as children begin to show any signs of difficulty with reading a parent usually has a fear in the back of his/her mind of whether their child has dyslexia or not.  Dyslexia cannot be identified until about 3rd grade because up until 3rd grade kids may struggle with some of the tasks that are used to identify the disorder.


  1. Difficulty with rhyming


A child with dyslexia finds rhyming tasks very difficult.  It is hard for him/her to hear that jump and bump rhyme.  He/she will also struggle with producing rhymes for a word.


  1. Difficulty remembering the alphabet


It may seem that one day your child knows the name of a letter and they next day you are starting back at square one.  You notice that other kids your child’s age do not seem to struggle with this task as much as your child does.


  1. Difficulty remembering the sounds that go with the letters


Not only will identifying letters of the alphabet be difficult, but learning and associating the sound that goes with them will also be difficult.  Often times a dyslexic child will say that the sound for y is /w/ because the letter name y begins with a w.


  1. Difficulty with blending sounds togetherDyslexia identification


For a child with dyslexia putting sounds in order without even having the letters present is hard.  For example, if I were to say /f/ /l/ /a/ /t/, then the child would have difficulty telling me that the word is “flat.”


  1. Sequencing


Sequencing in general is a difficult task for a dyslexic.  You may find that he/she has difficulty retelling stories in the order that they happened.  Or, you may find that when you give multi-step directions, they struggle with following them.


If you are concerned about your child and whether he/she has dyslexia, I offer a free assessment.  I can quickly let you know, write it up in a free report, and offer some suggestions for instruction.


Often people are misguided about what dyslexia is and how it affects people.  What kinds of things have you wondered about in regards to dyslexia?

Overcoming Dyslexia an Effective Tutoring Program for Struggling Readers

Overcoming Dyslexia an Effective Tutoring Program for Struggling Readers

There are so many fantastic books out there that discuss what dyslexia is and provide awareness of this learning disability.  But, the one that sticks out the most for me is Sally Shaywtiz’s book Overcoming Dyslexia because it doesn’t only identify what dyslexia is, it provides solutions to how to overcome it.Sally Shaywitz


As an online tutor that is constantly helping struggling readers I have read this book, listened to it on audiobook, and have read it again.  Not many books get my attention for me to do this, so that is a clear indicator that this book is special.


Sally Shaywitz has spent her entire career learning about Dyslexia and teaching people with this disability.  (I just want to quickly mention, that just because someone has this disability does not mean he/she is not capable in many other areas of life).  In her book Overcoming Dyslexia she discusses cutting edge teaching practices that make an impact on learning.  These same teaching practices I found out were the same exact principles that I spent 5 years learning about while I was part of the Reading First Grant program at the Milwaukee Academy of Science.


The Reading First Grant focused their attention on phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency and comprehension.  Sally discusses ways to teach children with dyslexia in each of these areas.  It seems to come down to best teaching practices.  This is why the Reading First Grant focused on educating teachers in these best teaching practices.


If you are a parent or educator who has a need to know more dyslexia, then I highly recommend this book.  There is a lot of information to soak up and some very deep theoretical language, but if you are persistent and allow the information to soak up by taking it in you will be able to learn what to do for dyslexics.  In my own online tutoring program for struggling readers I incorporate the strategies she talks about and use the information to enhance my students learning engagement.  Thank you Sally Shaywitz for adding so much to the awareness of dyslexia.

Renee Love’s Story of Dyslexia and an Effective Dyslexic Intervention Program

Renee Love’s Story of Dyslexia and an Effective Dyslexic Intervention Program


October is National Dyslexia Awareness month, so there will be several posts this month dedicated to understanding this learning disability. Today I have interviewed a client that is an adult that has suffered from Dyslexia and what her experience was a result. Her name is Renee Love and she enlisted my services about a year ago to help increase her reading level.

Skyping Reading Tutor: What was your first experience you remember with reading?

Renee: My grandmother reading Rumplestiltsken. I remember being fascinated with the idea of spinning gold.

Skyping Reading Tutor: Were you read to a lot as a child?

Renee: Yes, I Remember being read to fairly regularly by lots of different people.

Skyping Reading Tutor: When was the first time you knew something was different?

Renee: I was reading with my grandmother and it seemed like I was understanding everything. I remember her asking me to continue reading a sentence over and over again. I didn't understand why she kept having me reread it. I thought that I was reading it correctly. She kept telling me that I was reading was as saw. I kept thinking, why would I do that.

Skyping Reading Tutor: How did your experiences effect you?

Renee: When It was explained to me that I was dyslexic I was relieved that there was a reason. At the same time a lot of people assumed I had more limitations than I actually did.

Skyping Reading Tutor: How did dyslexia affect your overall school experiences?

Renee: It really made school miserable. I was constantly teased and felt singled out a lot because they would put me in special reading classes. It didn't seem that people really understood what the problem was and what my limitations actually were.

Skyping Reading Tutor: You graduated from high school and got a masters. How were you able to accomplish that?

Renee: Belief that I was intelligent enough and a lot of late nights. Some very cooperative and helpful teachers also guided me through my studies.

Skyping Reading Tutor: What was your experience online like with the Skyping reading tutor?

Renee: Amazing, enlightening, and extremely helpful. She found what I needed to improve on and helped give me the confidence to discover things that I didn't know I could do.

Skyping Reading Tutor: What would you like to say to kids who are struggling with this today?

Renee: You are not alone and don't get discouraged there is still lots you can do.

Skyping Reading Tutor: What is some advice that you have for parents that are going through this with their child?

Renee's mom: Patience and continue to have a positive attitude and praise. Still read to them.

Renee: My mom made herself available consistently to get through material. Recognize that it is not your child's fault. It needs to be dealt with in the best manner possible.

Today Renee has focused on what her talents are and shares them with the world. The picture that you see above is a water color painting she did of my children. You can check out her work at She is also going to be illustrating the cover of my new book 31 Days to a Become a Better Reader. Just because Renee has dyslexia does not mean that she is not a very accomplished woman. She has a bubbly personality and has a unique talent to capture people's essence through her painting.