Tips on Choosing a Tutor

Desired Attributes
& Determining a Tutor’s Effectiveness


Give priority to personality traits such as a warm and caring nature, respect for others and patience rather than an academic background. The reasoning here is that one can always acquire the science of teaching by referring to an effective program, but the art of teaching is inherent.

Tips on choosing a tutor


Weekly or bi-weekly meetings (phone meetings work well) for the first month or two in conjunction with the child’s reaction will help determine a tutor’s effectiveness.

The next posting will present Tutoring Tips.

Remedial Reading: Parental Participation – Help or Hindrance

  • Parental tutoring should only be carried out if the sessions rarely result in unduly stress and frustration for either the child or parent. The reasoning here is that negative emotions not only inhibit learning but, more significantly, they can also affect the child/parent relationship.

    Therefore, if parental tutoring isn’t going well an alternative approach should be considered. For instance, parents could:

    • hire a tutor – see blog entry 10 for tips on choosing a tutor;
    • look into having a trained school volunteer assist their child;
    • use the services of a reputable learning centre;
    • consider linking up with parents whose child also has a learning problem and tutor each other’s children.

Parents as tutors


Incidentally, a child’s limited progress doesn’t rest on his shoulders but on the shoulders of the teaching system. A system where far too many teachers graduate from university without sufficient knowledge on how to assist students with persistent learning problems and where the some teachers aren’t keeping up with their professional development..

The next posting will address tips on choosing a tutor.

Simplicity – The Mainstay of an Effective Remedial Reading Program

As too much information tends to overwhelm struggling students, remedial sessions should be as simple and concise as possible. Therefore, until a student has made genuine progress, only the truly essential skills should be focused on.

The essential skills consist of the short and long vowel sounds, syllabication (the bane of weak readers of all ages) and comprehension. This information is based on the exciting results the Darwin Reading Program has been achieving for over a decade.

To summarize, an uncluttered approach tends to promote rapid progress which in turn develops confidence, and it is the powerful combination of success and faith in one’s ability which fosters further growth.

Simplicity - the mainstay of an effective remedial reading program

The next entry will address the issue of parental participation in the remediation process.

Learning Disabilities: The Importance of Obtaining an Official Diagnosis

A diagnosis by a psychologist who is an expert in the field of Learning Disabilities is important. The reasoning here is that such a diagnosis would not only identify learning problems but it would also entitle a student to receive special accommodations. These could involve:

  • in-school remedial services;
  • a reduced workload;
  • extended time for exams;
  • oral exams for those with written communication difficulties;
  • permission for the older students to use note-takers or record classes.

These accommodations would be applicable throughout a student’s academic career and this includes college and university studies as well.

The benefits of an official diagnosis

The next posting will address why a remedial reading program needs to be simple in nature.

Learning Difficulties: Overcoming Diagnosing Problems

Parents, if you suspect your child is not progressing at a normal rate, do not hesitate to consult a professional – a teacher, pediatrician, psychologist or a speech & language therapist. If a professional dismisses your concerns, seek a second opinion. If the second opinion is also dismissive, set up another consultation within two to three months. This appointment should preferably be with one of the previously seen specialists. Meanwhile, keep notes on your child’s school performance and overall behaviour as this could aid the professional in his/her diagnosis.

Don't wait for an official diagnosis

Due to heavy demands for testing, it could take many months or even more than a year before a student is evaluated. Consequently, it is not advisable to wait for an official diagnosis before starting remediation. In fact, remediation in the hands of an effective tutor should be started as soon as its need is evident — even at the pre-school level if necessary. Information on determining a tutor’s effectiveness is upcoming.

Since a fair number of youngsters and adults experience literacy problems, consider sharing these postings with family and friends as you never know who might appreciate discovering a work that truly enhances lives. For more information on the Program, please explore the rest of the site.

The next posting will address the importance of obtaining an official diagnosis.

Dispelling a Common Fallacy

Individuals with Learning Disabilities are often considered to be slow, but as explained in the previous posting this is not at all the case. To further exemplify this, I am sharing two personal experiences which occurred when I was a 12 year old 7th grader. The first one embodies the misconception while the second dispels it.

– One day my classmates and I had to read for the principal. I ran into difficulty with a simple word and as a result, he had me point to my head and provide the abbreviation for mountain. Though the letters ‘MT’ are innocuous, their sounds are not for they produce the word empty.

– On the other side of the coin, I once responded to a question that stumped the entire class. Due to the astonishment this created, I remember the answer to this day – more than 60 years later. Incidentally, I was in a regular not a special education class.

Individuals with Learning Disabilities are not slow.

The next posting will address the sometimes difficult task of having your child’s learning problems diagnosed.

Learning Disabilities – Symptoms

Though the neurological damage involved in Learning Disabilities is considered to be minor, its symptoms can be significant. For example, one can experience the following:

  • in addition to reading difficulties, one can encounter problems with math and spelling;
  • a limited attention span,
  • poor memory,
  • hyperactivity – e.g. boys tend to be physically active while girl tend to talk quite a bit;
  • poor organizational skills – e.g. a messy bedroom and/or classroom desk as well as a tendency to be late;
  • poor fine motor control – e.g. difficulty with writing and tool manipulation;
  • poor gross motor control – e.g. awkwardness with activities such as running, swimming, skating;
  • emotional and social immaturity.

Symptoms of Learning Disabilities

The number of symptoms experienced and their degree of intensity vary among individuals. Though this condition can make learning challenging, it is important for parents to understand that with effective remediation and support their child can adapt to his learning difficulties.

The next posting should clear up the misconception that an individual with Learning Disabilities has a low I.Q.

Learning Disabilities

There are several reasons for learning problems. For instance, a child could have Learning Disabilities, be intellectually challenged or have a developmental lag. For information on lags, refer to; though some of the information on this site is directed at Americans, it does provide a clear overview of this condition.

The focus of this posting is on Learning Disabilities.

A Learning Disability is a neurological condition which affects one’s ability to learn but not one’s intelligence. In fact, to be diagnosed with this disorder one must be of average or above average intelligence.

A major problem with Learning Disabilities involves the neural transmission of information from the sense organs such as the ears and eyes to the brain. It should be noted that the sense organs function well – that is even if corrective devices such as eye glasses are needed.

The following comparison will help you understand this condition. An impairment with the auditory system can be likened to a faulty telephone line where the lack of clarity makes it difficult to understand what is being said. This in turn affects one’s ability to respond appropriately. The same thing happens with the brain. Here faulty neural transmissions affect its ability to receive clear, precise information. As a result, individuals with this impairment tend to have problems with various aspects of language – e.g. language development, articulation, reading, writing and presenting information in a coherent manner.

The next posting will present the symptoms of Learning Disabilities.

Program Designed for Parents

The Darwin the Dragon Reading Program (a.k.a. Vowel First Method) was designed with parents in mind as years of experience have demonstrated that they often don’t receive sufficient guidance and support. As a result, parents tend to lack understanding of their children’s learning problems as well as ways to assist them. In view of this, the Program’s guide addresses such issues as:

  • how to handle the sometimes challenging task of having your child’s learning problems diagnosed;
  • whether parents should tutor their own children;
  • how to choose a tutor;
  • homework including what to do if a child’s assigned work is frequently beyond his/her ability;
  • study skills;
  • promotion;
  • strategies that nurture a child’s social and emotional development.

Feel free to share this post and image on social media.

Though the Program was designed for parents, teachers are also finding it to be a most valuable tool.

An exciting feature of this Program is that it could be comfortably implemented by individuals who do not have a background in teaching. To compensate for the lack of training, the Program contains the following:

  • clear, user-friendly teaching instructions;
  • detailed lesson plans;
  • an easy to use skill reinforcing workbook;
  • tutor training techniques including a self-testing competency exercise;
  • teaching methods that create an environment which eliminate or at least greatly reduce anxiety and frustration.

A word on parental tutoring, if it results in stress and frustration on a fairly regular basis, it should be avoided. More information on this subject is upcoming.

The next posting will address Learning Disabilities – a neurological condition which complicates the learning process.

Side Notes

– To avoid excessive pronoun clutter (e.g. he/she), the masculine pronoun is used when a student is being referred to as this reflects the prevalence of males to females with learning problems.

– As the Program’s two titles clutter a sentence, they have been condensed to the Darwin Reading Program for the purpose of these postings.

An Excitingly Effective Remedial Reading Program

Introducing a remedial reading program which addresses problems of various origins including dyslexia, and individuals of all ages. To accommodate this wide range of age, the Program has two titles as well as two sets of teaching instructions.

My name is Minna Trower. I’m a retired special education teacher and have created a highly effective remedial reading program which has been winning the respect of teachers, principals, psychologists and parents.

The rationale behind the Program’s success lies in the fact that I am dyslexic and dysgraphic myself. Definition of Dysgraphia: A neurological condition which affects one’s ability to write in a coherent and concise manner. As a student, I went through many trials and tribulations. However, there is a silver lining to my experiences as it was the insight they provided that has allowed me to pinpoint the essential skills and develop an easy to grasp, student-friendly program.

A word on my struggles with dyslexia. I didn’t become a competent reader until my early 20 and while my writing skills have improved significantly over the past few years, it still takes me a long time to get my thoughts down in a coherent manner.

Hopefully, the following testimonial will stimulate interest in this work.

When I first met a severely dyslexic 12 year old, she could not read words such as log, hut and tap. However, within 15 minutes of her first session she was applying the Program’s unique decoding techniques and independently reading words of this nature.

Her resource teacher had sat in on the session and was so impressed that she bought the Program then and there. She was using it within a couple of days and continued to do so until she retired. She later mentioned that within the two years she had used the Program she didn’t encounter a single child who did not benefit from it.

For additional testimonials, refer to Examples  of  Effectiveness and Letters of Acknowledgement on our website –

Please consider informing others of this site as you never know who might need a little help and would thus appreciate discovering a work that truly enhances lives.