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Earning $ while helping people—remedial reading tutoring

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Remedial reading tutoring is a much needed service that is easy to do as a family. If you successfully teach your own children with the little ones running around, you can teach another person to read with little distractions in tow. It will just take a few lessons for a child used to school to get used to learning in the presence of small children.


A reasonable fee is $15 to $25 an hour, depending on the cost of living in your area and the number of distractions you are bringing to each lesson. (Thirty dollars an hour may even be appropriate in an extremely high cost city.) Children 5 and older, if generally well behaved, are generally a help, not a distraction. They can help show how to play the games you will be using and children older than the student you’re teaching can also help teach; with several older children, you could easily teach 2 or 3 students at a time (and charge a few dollars more.)


It is also very rewarding, I love watching students’ whole demeanor change as they learn to read. It’s easy to do, I’ll show you how to quickly and easily find students and tricks to teaching a remedial student (there are a few differences for a remedial vs. a beginning student.)


More than a third of all Americans, 43%, read at the lowest 2 literacy levels according to the 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL).


In 2005 nationwide, 62% of 4th graders were not reading at a proficient level. For 8th graders, 71% were not proficient readers according to the National Center for Education Statistics, or NCES.


70% of those in prison and 70% of those on welfare read at the lowest 2 literacy levels according to the 1992 National Adult Literacy Survey.


Literacy is more highly correlated with earnings than IQ. You can see a graph showing the relationship between literacy level and earnings here:




Adults are hard to find and teach unless you work with prisoners. However, there are children everywhere struggling because of poor reading teaching methods and too many sight words. These children are easy to find, just give out the NRRF reading grade level test to every parent you know with school aged children. Offer to give it to the child if the parents wish. (This lets the parent off the hook if they are a struggling reader themselves, you can just say you’ve given a ton of them, and they’re a bit complicated. However, many parents can give the test and prefer to give it themselves, I always offer that first.) In all the states I’ve lived in, I’ve never had a problem finding students. One school we lived near taught an excellent phonics program with few sight words, supplemented by phonetic spelling in higher grades. However, the rest of the schools in the district, like most schools, taught sight words and random lists of spelling words, so there were plenty of children there to teach, too. Also, there were always a few transfers in from schools that taught sight words.


I would charge less for the first few students. It took about twice as long to teach my first two students as I was learning as I went. You could also teach the first 1 or 2 for free if they were willing to be contacted by future students’ parents (and/or you could do the same for later students’ parents who are on a limited budget and cannot figure out how to teach on their own.) If you’ve taught your own children to read, your learning curve will be much less steep, one student should do it.


I like to teach my students at least once a week, twice a week is better. The faster you can get them through the basics, the faster they’ll learn. They are overcoming bad habit patterns from the way they currently read, so the total time to teach is longer the less often you meet with them.


I would recommend having your students watch my online phonics lessons on the days you do not teach them. If they do not have a computer, they can watch them at their local library. The local libraries in all the cities and states we’ve lived in have had computers with headphones available for patron use.


Here are the basics of teaching remedial reading:




Your number one task is to get them to stop guessing and start sounding out each and every word from left to right. Nonsense words are key, they help prevent guessing. Here is a free website that generates nonsense words: http://call.canil.ca/english/index.html . Syllables are also helpful, I would use the Blend Phonics Reader (it helps show how guessing is a bad strategy by showing words with similar configuration together) followed by Webster’s Speller. You can read the Webster thread here:




While Webster is especially helpful for ESL students and anyone with any speech or language processing issues, it is very beneficial for all remedial students, and helps them gain practice in sounding out multi-syllable words.


You can start off for free, using only the Blend Phonics Reader and Webster’s Speller and my phonics concentration game, but eventually you’ll want to get the following books:


The ABCs and All Their Tricks

Prescription for Reading Teach Them Phonics by Ernest Christmas


And, if your student needs more nonsense words,

We All Can Read by James Williams (3rd grade to adult, http://weallcanread.com/)


Usually, nonsense words are enough to break the guessing habit. However, I recently taught a 3rd grade student who would even try to guess a nonsense word, even when he knew it was not a real word up front! I made him sound out every sound for every word before he said the word for a while, that worked. (I made him say /c/ /a/ /t/ cat, etc.) Nonsense words are faster, and work for 99.9% of remedial students. It still boggles my mind that he would try to guess a nonsense word, he is a bright child, I guess he just had an almost unstoppable guessing habit from too many sight words.


When finished with the basic phonics in the Blend Phonics Reader, use Webster’s Speller, starting with the syllabary, and them move on to the words of 2 or more syllables. After they have a few lessons of 3+ syllable words, have them read from books at different grade levels, having them read a paragraph from each until they get to the point where they are missing a few words. Write down the words they missed and the portion they are having trouble with. The next lesson, or later that lesson (give them a 5 or 10 minute break or let one of your children play the phonics concentration game with them), look up more words with that pattern in Blend Phonics and another phonics book that you own and work on the sounds they were having trouble with. I would then alternate my teaching between Webster’s Speller multi-syllable words and this type of assessment reading and follow on teaching to identify and teach the sound-spelling patterns the student needs more work learning.


For assessment purposes, I give both of the grade level tests (the Wide Range Test and the NRRF test combined with my test for grads 8, 10, and 12) and the MWIA at the beginning and after 10 to 20 hours of tutoring when they have learned all the sound spelling correspondences. (Give the MWIA I to students reading 2nd grade level or below on the NRRF test. Give the MWIA II to students reading 3rd grade level or higher on the NRRF test.) I give the tests again when they work through a fair amount of multi-syllable words in Webster, and when the student’s parents or you have decided that they may be finished with tutoring. Do not teach to these tests, they are for diagnostic purposes. The MWIA shows how damaged they are from sight words, when they read the phonics words within 15 to 20% of the speed of the holistic words, they have mastered what they need to know well enough that their phonetic reading skills are automated. An older student may never get to that point, stop when they are reading several grade levels above grade level and have mastered all phonics sounds and rules. There may be an initial slowdown in reading speed as they start to learn phonics, it will speed up with practice as the process of phonetic reading becomes automated.


The Wide Range test will give a bit of a higher grade level, and includes many sight words, so is a few grade levels above their actual ability to read a normal book. (It is a true measure, however, of their ability to read a Dick and Jane type book with 70+ percent sight words.) The NRRF reading grade level test will give a better assessment of ability to read normal books, they have mostly phonetic words.


The tests are here:




For a bit of my history and the grade level improvements for a group of 9 children that I taught with the help of volunteers from my church, read this thread:



Edited by ElizabethB
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Can a person advertise to do this service without having any type of certification ?

I am interested in doing this but I do not have a college degree. However,I did teach all three of my own children to read and they had/have learning difficulties.


Thank you,



You could advertise anyway. I'd just charge less for the first few, once you've actually proven you can do it, you could advertise based on that. Or, have a money back guarantee if the students don't improve! (Webster's works that well, I wouldn't be afraid to have a money back guarantee if I were charging and needed the income. Luckily, we don't need the income right now and I can work with inner city kids as a volunteer with my church.)


If you can do the work, once you build up a few successes, you should have no trouble attracting new students, whether or not you have a degree or a certification.


I know a lot of people with degrees and certifications that are a lot less effective than those without, in many different fields.

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