Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Tutoring for the average child? Why???

Spoiler: FUN math game at the end of this post!  :-)
Many parents are content if their child is in the "average" range, and are very happy if they see an "above average" score on a standardized test.

However, when parents see a "below average" or "failing" score, they instinctively reach out for, and do whatever they can do to get help for the child.

They may try on their own, at first, using flash cards to drill the child in an effort to get him to memorize addition facts or multiplication facts.

Other parents may decide to hire a tutor.
The majority of parents who hire a tutor see the expense as a necessity (i.e., an investment in their child's future academic success).

If their child is "doing okay" (is in the average or above average range), then other investments are often made; usually in extracurricular activities.  

Those children get martial arts, acting, music, gymnastic or dance lessons.  They go to ceramics or swimming classes, or spend time on a bowling league or at boy scout or girl scout meetings.  

Being an "average" or "above average" student has its reward...getting to enjoy more of the FUN stuff!


Of course, all those activities help children to be well-rounded individuals, but does it support them in reaching up to or even  beyond their true academic potential?

Why is it that a parent of a child with "average" skills doesn't get help to lift that child into the "above average" range?

Why doesn't a parent of a child with "above average" skills get support to raise that child's skills into the "superior" range?

In other words, why are parents content with what they consider (or what others may consider) "good enough?"


For years the concept of WORKING TO THE BEST OF YOUR ABILITY or WORKING TO YOUR POTENTIAL has been popular.  

It's all that we really want...that a child's work should reflect his or her potential.

But, how can someone decide what a child's potential is?

Frustrated parents may say: 

I know he can do better.  He's smart.  He's just being lazy, and his grades are suffering.


She can read pretty well, but she just won't practice.  This year she's falling behind in reading comprehension.

Parents seem to have decided what their child's potential is based on past performance.  

**Yet, in my opinion, past performance doesn't always predict future performance

What do I suggest?

I recommend getting children involved in short, FUN activities which allow them to learn and practice academic and other skills in natural and common sense ways.  

If you don't know how to do it, then a TUTOR (who does know how) might be hired, even if only for a few weeks to get you started.  

Of course, if you like the tutor and can afford to continue, then a long-term relationship might be best for your family.  

Remember it's not an all or nothing relationship. 

The length and frequency of tutoring sessions can be tailored to the child or family.

I see some families only once a month or every six weeks.  Other families prefer that I visit once or twice per week.  Every child's needs are different.  

You can take a break over the summer or increase tutoring over the summer.  

Both are valid strategies, depending on the child's needs and what other summertime activities the child is participating in.


The activities should be SHORT and FUN!

That way you have plenty of time for other things, and the child will continue to look forward to these entertaining and stimulating academic games.


This is a game which I often teach the children whom I tutor.  

It's my "PARTNERS TO 10" card game, which helps boost addition skills and builds confidence when adding long strings of numbers. 

The goal is to learn which pair of numbers or "partners" add up to 10.

Here are the "partners":

9   and   1
8   and   2
7   and   3
6   and   4
5   and   5

You can use regular playing cards, homemade cards or any number cards with numerals 1 through 9, like these wonderful Toy Story cards that are pictured below, which I found at my local dollar store. SEE PHOTOS BELOW.

It is so easy to play, and can be played slowly for beginners and more quickly once the numerical partners are known.  

Since all cards are face up, players are free to look around for answers until they eventually memorize the partners over time.

Partners To 10 can be played with others or alone (solitaire style).


How PARTNERS TO 10 is played:
Players take turns picking the top card from the deck of cards.  Each card has one numeral on it; either 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 or  9.  

This deck of cards is located where the child can reach it, in order to get a card when it is his or her turn. 

You may choose to give each child a card from the top of the deck when it is his or her turn, if the child cannot do so for himself or is impulsive and is grabbing too many cards at once or not waiting his turn.

Players place cards in front of themselves in a horizontal line.

When a player picks a card he names it and then tells what he needs to make 10.

"I picked a 7.  
I need a 3 to make 10."

"I picked a 4.  
I need a 6 to make 10."

"I picked a 3.  
I need a 7 to make 10.  
I have a 7.  
I'll put the 3 with my 7 to make 10.  
Ding, ding, ding! 
I have one point."

The pair of cards which equal 10 are pushed to the side and placed vertically, so both can be seen, one on top of the other. 

Here is the set up for one player:

Here is the set up for two players:

Each pair of cards that equals 10 is one point.

Play continues in this way until there are no more cards to pick, but the game is not over yet (if there is more than one player). 

Players may then take turns asking another player for a card they need.

"I have a 5.  I need another 5 to make 10.  Sarah, please pass me your 5."

Then it's Sarah's turn to ask for a card she needs.  

It's best to ask the player to your left for the card you need, but if that player doesn't have what you need you may then ask the next player to your left.

The game is over when all cards have been matched with their partners to make 10. 

Each player's pairs are counted.  

Five pairs = 5 points.  Many times players will end up with the same number of points and the game will end in a tie.

"We both won first place!"
"You won first place and I won second place!"


Knowing partners to 10 can help a child add a long string of numbers more quickly.

I'm Noelle Michaels, speech and learning specialist.  I enjoy tutoring and teaching parents fun ways to help their children get to higher skill levels that MEET or SURPASS their "potential." 

Truth be told, I truly love my job!

If you need ideas or suggestions, please reach out to me for a FREE consultation:

201-919-4805 (Text or Call)

Radio Show:

Youtube Channel:

- SNACKademics
- The BEST Way To Teach A Child COLORS


Monday, August 5, 2013

SHADES OF AUTISM #7: Learning Quickly

I do not teach one step at a time

I bound up the staircase of learning quickly.

When I see that a child can do something, I do not make him practice that skill.

I work with him on a more difficult form of the problem or concept.

When a child is intelligent, and his communication skills are not strong, we often simplify the things which we want to teach him.

That can lead to boredom, and a loss of motivation to learn.

Reaching for a higher level skill helps the child to become cognitively stimulated. 

It also shows us exactly what he is capable of learning.


In TWO sessions I taught Alejandro to answer True/False questions in written form, when he had never answered a True/False question before.

On day one he placed a toy in a rectangle with a TRUE statement.

On the next session he CIRCLED the word TRUE or FALSE after reading a sentence.  

He also wrote the word FALSE as an answer to a question.

After he wrote the word FALSE, I said, "Now, write your name on the bottom of the page," and he did.  

He had been putting wooden or foam letters in order to spell his name over the past two years, but this was the first time I had seen him write his name on paper. 

Alejandro also practiced other test-taking skills.  He filled in circles which were next to his answers, and put an X in a square shape next to his answers.

His parents were very excited and surprised to see him performing these higher level skills.  

We talked about the possibility of having higher level goals included in his Individual Education Plan (IEP).

Taking a TRUE - FALSE test is now within his reach, after only TWO sessions!

My advice to parents: 

~  Don't be content with learning in small increments. 

~  Try to reach higher levels quickly whenever possible (whenever you see that flash of brilliance appear).  

Contact me or have your child's therapist or teacher contact me, if you want more information about this.

I'm Noelle Michaels, Speech and Learning Specialist, and I truly love my job!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Superb-Therapy-LLC/264601420235424?ref=hl

Superb Therapy, LLC
Denville, New Jersey, 07834  USA