What is your education and training?

I have a Masters in Education as well as certificates in early literacy from Cambridge University, UK. I also trained in using the Orton-Gillingham approach to help children with dyslexia, at the Carroll School.

Who are your clients?

I have worked with children kindergarten through second grade, but I will work with anyone, regardless of age, who struggles to read and wants help.

What do Word Bird lessons cost?

A 50-minute reading session, following the Orton-Gillingham approach, costs $90; a 60-minute session costs $100. For very young children with less stamina, I also offer 30-minute sessions for $60 or 40-minute sessions for $80. There is an initial materials fee of $10.

For children who are anxious about their abilities as a reader, I offer a complimentary, low-key first meet-up with the student, on “neutral” turf such as a coffee shop or park or even at the child’s home. Otherwise, I provide the initial evaluation session free-of-charge.

Where and when do you tutor students?

I meet students in the study rooms at the Somerville Public Library, Central branch, on Highland Avenue, near McGrath Hwy, easily accessible to I93. I generally tutor students Monday through Thursday afternoons, after school. I can also tutor students in the early morning if their family can coordinate a flexible school start time.

Will you work with students over the summer?

Absolutely! Though I firmly believe that children need to play and enjoy unstructured time over the summer, I also know that children with reading difficulties often benefit from continued instruction over the summer months to maintain their reading skills and prevent “summer slide.”

How often should a student receive tutoring?

For maximum effectiveness, a tutoring program should include at least two, if not three, 50-minute sessions a week. However, I am flexible and also offer 30-minute sessions for those students who are still building up their stamina.

What homework do you give?

To help Word Bird students become more fluent, automatic readers, I send home a selection of word rings for individual practice. Daily spending even 1 minute on each of 2 word rings (for instance, sight words, words that rhyme with ‘it’, or words that rhyme with ‘all’) can help a child’s reading ability. Rather than send home worksheets, I prefer that parents read aloud with their child. I am also happy to help parents choose ‘just right’ library books for their child to read independently.

What advice can you give parents who want to help their struggling reader?

If your child has been diagnosed with dyslexia, early intervention through 1-on-1 help is important. From kindergarten to second grade, children are learning to read in school, but from third grade on, they are ‘reading to learn.’ If a child is not a fairly fluent reader by third and fourth grade, school performance in other subjects suffers.

In addition to tutoring, I advise parents to discover and support their child’s strengths in some other area such as sports, the arts, science, math, cooking, etc. Children who are struggling to read and having difficulty in school, despite their best efforts, take a hit with their self-confidence and begin to wonder, “Am I stupid? Is there something wrong with me?” Bright and capable, they need to find areas of strength where they can see their efforts pay off more readily and experience joy.

Also, a parent who continues to read chapter books aloud to their child, even through middle school, will help their child build vocabulary, understand more complex story structure, and increase their general fund of knowledge.