Caleb was a student, like a lot of students, who became overwhelmed with school because he couldn't read at grade level. This is Caleb's story. After reading his story, if you have a similar story that you would like to share, click here.
Caleb was in 5th grade. He was seeing me twice a week. I had determined that he was a very bright boy but his reading skills were that of a beginning 4th grader.
He was constantly bringing his homework in order for me to help him. My policy is that I teach SKILLS that the student needs in order to read better. I DON’T do homework with the student. However, I did look at the work he brought to determine if I could weave it into what I needed to teach Caleb so that he could become an independent reader.
For instance, if he had a history worksheet he needed to finish, I would use this as the reading portion of the session. I would pick out words I thought he may not know and had him decode those. Then I would ask for a definition of the word.
If he brought English homework, I would use this as part of the writing portion of the session. It may have been about nouns, verbs or adverbs. Maybe it was a worksheet on capitalization. Whatever it was, I would take a couple of minutes to review the paper with him and to make sure he was able to understand the directions so he could finish it at home.
After a couple of weeks, the mother approached me at the end of the session and asked why I wasn’t doing all of the homework with Caleb. I asked her if she remembered that I had told her that he was at the 4th grade reading level. She said she did.
I asked her if she wanted her son to be a successful student. "Of course," she told me. I then told her again what my homework policy was and how I was incorporating what he was learning in school with the skills I was teaching him.
She said, “But he needs his homework done and I can’t do it.” I said, “Of course he does, but you aren’t suppose to do it, he is.” “But that is why I am paying you!” she said.
“No. I’m not a homework tutor. I AM an educational tutor. You are paying me big bucks to TEACH YOUR SON TO READ! We will worry about getting ALL of his homework done as he learns to read.” I said.
I went on to tell her that if she would set up a meeting with the teacher, I would make myself available to explain to the teacher what I was doing and to see if she would lessen the homework load until I could get Caleb over the hump.
To make a long story short, I met with the mother, the teacher and the principal. They agreed to lessen his homework load by ½. They also agreed that the assignments didn’t have to be turned in on time.
This seemed to take a burden off the mother’s back. He seemed to be more cooperative after this. The pressure he felt was no longer there. He could now concentrate on what he needed to learn instead of being concerned with assignments he couldn't read.
At the end of the summer, between 5th grade and 6th grade, Caleb was able to read at grade level. He only needed some discipline, some extra time and some study skills. His mom quit doing his homework for him. By the end of the school year, he was turning his assignments in on time and even tried to finish more than was expected.
I gave him a medal and a certificate to let him know how proud I was of his accomplishments.
Caleb's story could be your son's story (or your daughter's)!
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