Some of the best and most endearing cards I have received in my life are the hand written Thank You cards from happy pupils who have got into the school they have set their heart on aged 10 or 11. These wonderful children have worked incredibly hard in a very determined manner because they have to put in twice as much effort as their peers to achieve the same results. All I do is channel their energy in a focused way, so they make steady, secure progress.

Not all the children I tutor are aiming for independent schools or grammar schools, they just want to be helped to process words so that they can enjoy their time at school and to be able to sit down with a book and turn the pages because they can read the text like everyone else.

I assess all new pupils initially so I know precisely where to start from. I have developed my own set of worksheets and flashcards over the years. Each pupil is given an A4 file for them to keep their work sheets in, in individual plastic pockets. The files fill up very quickly. All the sessions include a taught spelling rule or letter group, self-read comprehension using the taught spellings, free writing using the taught spellings and writing from dictation. We may use flashcards of the spelt words in various ways to enhance multi-sensory uptake and/or the pupil may select actual letters from a placed alphabet, to make the words.

We discuss and I teach the use of grammar, and punctuation and I try to encourage the use of cursive script as early as possible to ease fluid processing.

I do not use assistive technology in our sessions. The best way for a physically able child to assimilate words is through hand writing the individual letters not tapping keys. And understanding where words come from by breaking up spellings into: stem words, prefixes and suffixes, leads not only to accurate spelling but also to the development of a wider vocabulary which enhances free writing and comprehension.

We usually laugh quite a lot for one reason or another, but a lot gets done! I don’t push children I only tutor children who are happy to come.

Inidvidual Tuition

Maths

Having been trained to teach Dyslexic children and adults to read and spell and write more effectively it is perhaps odd that I find myself currently teaching mathematics to children and teenagers, as well. But this came about quite naturally as some children with Dyslexia have real difficulty recalling integral steps in mathematical problems. In 2009 I took the plunge and signed up for a Maths course at the Open University. The course was really good fun and fascinating in that it gave me a better understanding of the underlying structure of mathematics. My aim now when teaching pupils how to approach mathematical problems is to explain the underlying reasoning required to solve specific problems so that they fully understand what is happening so that the integral steps involved make sense. Pupils are often in a ‘brain fog’ in relation to computing numbers and slowly building their confidence in their own ability to work with numbers is key to their future success. Many children and young people struggle to learn the times tables and feel totally defeated by maths because the numbers involved are fundamental aspects of so many aspects of maths such as, lowest common denominators, algebraic equations and finding factors and so much more. So rather than avoiding this issue, I make it a key part of all maths sessions, and children are never more pleased than when they can recall the perennially awkward ones, such as: 7 x 8 and 9 x 6… which one’s 56? Which one’s 54? Tip: The answer that adds up to 9, 54, is 9 x 6.

I predominantly offer tuition on Saturday mornings but I have taught children after school if requested, or during the week in normal school hours for various reasons; basically just ask.

I am a full member and listed tutor and assessor with patoss which is The Professional Association of Teachers of Students with Specific Learning Difficulties, and the ODA, which is the Oxford branch of the British Dyslexia Association.

It is best to contact me by email: sarah@sarahcowell.co.uk

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