Acorn Tutor



At the end of each lesson I give verbal feedback to parents/guardians on each student’s efforts and achievements. This feedback is always forward looking and complimentary. I wish to reinforce the positive both with parents and students. I have a series of reward systems I use with my pupils to boost their motivation and drive to succeed. Should I have any concerns about a student’s performance, then I will always arrange to discuss the matter privately with parents either on the phone or via e mail.

I am very likely to give a pupil a short piece of homework which is directly related to the lesson. This should not take more than about 10 minutes. The aim is that the student completes it unaided. This way I can see clearly whether the pupil has understood the lesson. Should your child require a little help a short message to this effect on the worksheet would be helpful. In the unlikely event that a pupil feels the work sheet is too hard then I would prefer the sheet is returned with this explanation.

Research reveals that the best way to teach dyslexic learners is via all their senses i.e. multisensory teaching. This means using visuals, motion, body movement, hands on and auditory elements in their learning. It seems that when dyslexics read they draw on several different regions of the brain, so stimulating these various regions is more likely to ensure greater success for these learners. Consequently, this practice forms the backbone of my teaching.

The main teaching method is a structured phonic and phonemic awareness programme, taught systematically, which focuses on sounds that make up words and then learning early blending skills to form words. For those children struggling with phonics, I focus on strengthening their phonological awareness (sounds within words). This is a listening skill and can be enhanced by rhyming games, clapping out or marching to the beats/syllables in words and withdrawing and adding sounds to words. For many strongly visual dyslexics, thinking in pictures can also dramatically improve their reading by associating a word with a picture of the word. Colours and shapes of words are further methods used to assist in reading. Overlays can also prove helpful when letters seem to be jumping about on the page or it is hard to differentiate text against background.

I support children with their writing skills, teaching them to understand firstly what a sentence is and how it is structured. I never assume knowledge; confusion can often occur between letters and words, words and sentences, sentences and lines.

Once a base line understanding is established, I help develop their writing skills through sound grammar skills. I encourage them to be more creative through imaginative teaching using for example keyhole pictures, writing frames, visual props, the five senses, poetry and much more.

Many children find spelling challenging and frustrating. I use a structured phonic programme. It is important to use a variety of techniques to find one which best suits an individual, dependent on their learning style. The key is to aid retention in the long term. There are many techniques that can assist, for example rhyme, the use of colour, the shape of words and mnemonics.

Handwriting quality can be supressed due to confusion with spelling, anxiety regarding ideas and content or by motor and coordination problems. A student’s handwriting grip can cause ongoing issues. A simple pencil grip or triangular pencil may help. Using writing implements other than a pen/pencil can be rewarding and fun. Using motion techniques to help understand writing should sit on the line and differentiating between tall and short letters can make a huge difference. To help avoid confusion between “b” and “d” and to remember the direction of digits, I have a variety of multisensory techniques.

As a supplement to handwriting support, I also encourage keyboard skills as a step towards touch typing. This can be invaluable in boosting a child’s confidence as well as providing a valuable learning skill for those who struggle with handwriting and spelling.

Many children struggle with Maths, including those without any diagnosed learning challenge. The pace may be too fast, the teaching practice not appropriate to their learning style. Not all students learn in the same way. As a result, children may lose their confidence and feel demoralised.

Understanding early mathematical concepts is the keystone to building knowledge. Many children are confused by the five mathematical signs and what they mean. I have tutored many students who are able to recite multiplication and division facts but have no idea what they mean or how to apply them to simple problem solving. To help their understanding, we use tactile materials and real life situations to help make relevant links in all aspects of maths. This approach has a more long term impact on understanding and therefore retention. Many struggle to sequence and order so it is important to make meaningful connections to understand and remember methods/processes long term. Recall of multiplication and division facts can prove challenging due to a weak memory but this can be overcome through a combination of visual, auditory and tactile intervention. Once mastered, this achievement, along with many others, works wonders for their confidence and self-esteem in a subject they may have initially feared.

These tests are used in the 11+ and many Common Entrance Exams for secondary schools. Non–verbal reasoning is problem solving using pictures and diagrams. It tests the ability to analyse visual information and solve problems based on visual reasoning. Questions test the ability to identify shapes that are similar or different, to complete a sequence with missing or rotating shapes and to code and decode shapes using logic. Verbal reasoning involves spotting letter sequences, cracking codes based on letters and numbers, following written instructions, and thinking about text, spotting words within words or finding a letter to complete two other words.

Essentially, verbal reasoning works with words and non-verbal reasoning works with symbols and diagrams. I will help a student familiarise themselves with all types of questions and explain the techniques needed to answer them. They will be given plenty of opportunity to practise and hone their skills within the time allowed.