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In-home and at-school Staten Island Letters private pay literacy tutoring for school-aged students. We work with students, of all ages, in private and public schools teaching decoding, spelling, reading fluency, and reading comprehension skills.
We travel to North Shore, Mid Island, & the South Shore
Learning his or her ABCs is your child’s first step towards mastering reading and writing. But sometimes, teaching such an important skill can be confusing for parents. Do you start with the letter names or the letter sounds first? Is there a right way to teach a child the alphabet? Click here to read what speech-language pathologist Dr. Jan Wasowicz has to say on our blog!
The Five Pillars of Reading
Just like a house needs strong support and foundation, developing literacy skills in young learners requires the Five Pillars of Reading. Recognized by the National Reading Panel as the “best approach to reading instruction,” these pillars include:
- Phonemic awareness
Backed by studies and scientific research, these five pillars make up the essential building blocks of reading. And by combining these techniques, teachers and parents can effectively introduce the concept of reading and language.
Here is a closer look at how the Five Pillars of Reading work to ensure successful reading instruction:
Phonemic awareness refers to the knowledge and understanding that words are built from and can be broken apart into smaller segments of a sound called phonemes. Phonemic awareness is one’s ability to hear, recognize, and manipulate sounds heard in words- think of it as the ears to brain connection.
Phonemic awareness can be taught even before a child learns to read or identify printed letters. When babies are born, they are processing phonemes when parents speak and sing to their bundle of joy. In the English language, phonemic awareness means being able to identify approximately 44 phonemes. Additionally, teaching letter sounds with letter names is an effective way for students to grasp the concept of phonemes.
Whereas phonemic awareness refers to one’s ability to recognize sounds or phonemes in words, phonics mastery means understanding that letters (graphemes or printed letters) of the alphabet represent sounds (phonemes)- think of it as the ears, eyes, and brain connection. A child who has mastered phonics can sound out new or unfamiliar words on their own. The child is “cracking the code” and is receiving feedback by listening to oneself sound out words.
Teaching phonics is all about establishing the relationship between sounds and printed letters or printed letter combinations. Starting with the printed letter-sound correspondence, a child then learns how to match sounds to letters and uses this relationship to understand printed words.
Needless to say, vocabulary is crucial in strengthening reading comprehension and fluency. In most instances, poor vocabulary can limit and interrupt a child’s learning and reading experience. And while it can grow naturally from daily reading and conversations, it is just as important to explicitly teach and expand vocabulary.
Strategies in teaching vocabulary can include word mapping (graphic display of words/concept relationships), word substitutions, semantic relationships (how words are related), acting out meanings, and focusing on word structure (root words and their derivations).
Learners achieve fluency when they recognize and read words with accuracy, intonation, fluidity, and speed, whether while reading aloud or silently to oneself. Hence, fluent readers are able to read automatically without needing to pause to decode words or look up definitions.
Fluency plays a key role in comprehension and is essential in keeping young learners motivated. When children are reading fluently, it frees up mental resources to allow them to improve their comprehension of what they are reading.
When developing reading fluency, it is crucial to provide a child with frequent oral reading opportunities and to monitor progress. This involves reading out loud while being guided and receiving feedback from an adult. It is important to provide the student with opportunities to self-correct. This combination of consistent practice and regular feedback is critical in promoting fluency.
The ultimate goal for literacy is to comprehend well what one is reading. Reading comprehension enables a child to predict outcomes, evaluate characters, deduce, and make connections to real-world events.
A child’s comprehension skills can begin to develop before becoming an independent reader. One way to do this is by reading to a child and discussing the story’s main idea, characters, and setting. Explicit teaching, modeling, and guided practice of comprehension skills are also crucial. This is especially true for students whose reading comprehension skills lag behind their peers.
Discover some online phonics materials for struggling readers that can help them develop the five pillars of reading.
STATEN ISLAND STAFF
Special Educator, Wilson and Orton-Gillingham Certified, Reading, Writing
Dr. Chris received a PhD in urban education from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He received a Masters degree in special education from Hunter College, also of the City University of New York. He has spent much of his 25-year career as a literacy specialist working with students with learning disabilities. He has been a tutor, public and private school teacher, a literacy specialist, an administrator, and a college professor. His focus in all of these positions and stages of his career has been to teach children to read. As a teacher and tutor, he developed literacy skills in children of all ages but mostly older children, between 10 and 18. As a professor, he has taught special education methods with a focus on literacy instruction. He has made it his personal mission to teach his graduate students how to teach children who struggle with basic reading skills such as decoding and fluency and, of course, comprehension. Throughout his career, he has been shocked by how many teachers, special education teachers included, are unprepared to help children who struggle with reading. He has many years of experience using and teaching Orton Gillingham-based decoding methods (Wilson Reading System, Recipe for Reading, etc.) and reading comprehension instructional methods such as Reciprocal Teaching, Visualizing and Verbalizing, among others. He is also experienced in writing instructional methods such as Basic Writing Skills (Hochman), and Framing Your Thoughts (Project Read). He is also versed in helping children develop executive function skills.
Bachelor’s degree in Childhood Education (Grades 1-6), Master’s Degree in Special Education (Grade 1- Grade 6)
Kaitlyn is a childhood (Grade 1- Grade 5) special education teacher at a public school in Brooklyn. She obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Childhood Education (Grades 1-6) from The College of Staten Island. She continued at The College of Staten Island to obtain a Master’s Degree in Special Education (Grade 1- Grade 6). Kaitlyn recently completed the CITE program through The College of Saint Rose to obtain advanced certifications in School Building Leadership and School District Leadership. Kaitlyn has six years of experience working with students with diverse backgrounds. She has experience working with students with ADHD, autism, speech and language impairments, and dyslexia. She prides herself in differentiating her instruction to meet her students’ unique needs. She has experience teaching the Common Core Standards and newly adapted Next Generation Learning Standards. Kaitlyn incorporates the Wilson/Fundation program in her teaching and applies the Orton-Gillingham approach. She is currently teaching in a 4th grade ICT setting as the special education teacher and also has experience as a 1st grade special education teacher. Kaitlyn worked at A+ Academy as a 4th and 5th grade test prep teacher specializing in math instruction and summer school for the Department of Education during the summers of 2018-2019.
Kaitlyn works with a student-centered approach celebrating their accomplishments and building their self-confidence. Kaitlyn teaches with the use of manipulatives and scaffolds. She specializes in teaching test preparation skills in reading, writing, and math. Kaitlyn provides support to students with phonics instruction, decoding, developing comprehension skills using a variety of sources. She has experience using the programs Go-Math, NY Engage, Envisions, and Everyday Math. She teaches strategies for students to apply classroom learning to real life.
Kaitlyn teaches that communication is key for forming meaningful relationships with teachers, parents, and service providers in order to support student’s wellbeing and development. Every student is a success story!
LOCATION: Brooklyn: All Areas, Lower Manhattan, Staten Island, New Jersey
TYPE OF SERVICES: Initial Reading Evaluation, Individualized reading, writing, and math intervention, Multisensory Reading, Executive Functioning
EXPERTISE: Working with students with disabilities and building their executive functioning, improving phonemic awareness, decoding skills, and comprehension, improving understanding of math concepts using manipulatives and real world connections
AGES: Kindergarten-6th Grade
TEST PREP: Grades 3-5 ELA and Math State Tests
NYS Certified Early Childhood & Special Education Teacher, M.S Ed
Michelle is a New York State certified teacher, professionally certified in Early Childhood Education & Special Education grades Pre-K to 2nd grade. Her education includes a B.S. in Early Childhood Education and a Master’s in Early Childhood Education & Special Education from Hunter College. Michelle has been a teacher for over ten years working with Preschool and Kindergarten. She has been working in a charter school in Queens for the past five years teaching Kindergarten in an ICT classroom. In the ICT classroom setting, she has worked with students with speech and language impairments. She strategizes to meet the individual needs of all her students while building upon and celebrating their strengths.
Michelle uses informal and formal assessments to collect data and learn more about each students’ individual needs then creates goals for students to work towards during tutoring sessions. She can support students with phonics, decoding, fluency, and reading comprehension using a variety of resources including Wilson/Fundations programs and Fountas & Pinnell. Michelle has experience teaching math with programs such as Go Math and Eureka, a math program designed to teach the Common Core Standards within the context of students’ lives, creating a hands-on, stimulating learning environment. In her daily practice as a teacher, Michelle uses many approaches to motivate and maintain appropriate behaviors. By getting to know her students it allows her to engage them and best learn their interests. She truly enjoys building strong relationships with her students and working with them to meet their individualized learning goals. When needed, she uses positive reinforcement and a positive reward system to help with students’ confidence and self-esteem. She works with students who struggle with decoding, spelling, and writing by building on each student’s current skill level.
Michelle is patient, kind, loving, and nurturing. She treats each child as if they were her own, and always strives to make learning fun. She is extremely motivated and confident that she will help your child grow in any area of need.
LOCATION: Long Island: Woodmere, Lawrence, Hewlett, Cedarhurst, Inwood, Far Rockaway- Monday & Tuesday – 4:30 pm-6:30 pm
Wednesday & Thursday- 3:30pm-6:00pm
Staten Island: New Springville, Heartland Village, Willowbrook, Westerleigh, Todt Hill, New Dorp- Saturday & Sunday- 9:00 am-12:00 pm
TYPE OF SERVICES: Individualized instruction in decoding, fluency, reading comprehension, writing, math, and literacy
EXPERTISE: Improving decoding, phonemic awareness, fluency, reading comprehension, and writing skills, providing students with strategies to understand and solve math word problems
AGES: Preschool to 2nd grade in Literacy, Reading, & Math
NYS Certified Educator with Master’s in Special Education/Childhood Education & Certification in Orton-Gillingham
Megan graduated from Boston College with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Elementary Education and Human Development/Applied Psychology, with a minor in Special Education, and with a Division I Athletic Scholarship to play softball for four years. She then received her Master’s Degree in Special Education & Childhood Education, and a NYS Teaching Certification from Fordham University. Megan received Certification in the Orton-Gillingham method to teach reading to students with reading difficulties.
Throughout Megan’s seven years of lead teaching experience, she has taught in various educational settings across Manhattan, meeting wonderfully diverse students. For three years, Megan taught in a general education setting and is experienced in the Common Core curricula while working with General Education students, English Language Learners, and students with disabilities, teaching core subjects (e.g., reading, writing, math, social studies, science) to second through fifth graders. For the last four years, Megan has been a Special Education Head Teacher at a private special education school. She is responsible for creating and implementing individualized instruction across academic domains to meet the specific needs of students with a variety of learning and physical disabilities, and learning differences including students diagnosed with autism, dyslexia, speech and language impairments, social pragmatic language disorder, ADD/ADHD, learning disorder in reading/math, dysgraphia, developmental coordination disorder, mood disorders, and students with hearing impairments. Due to the pandemic, Megan gained experience teaching remotely, as well as teaching on-ground students simultaneously with remote learners each day.
Megan believes and gratefully witnesses how all students have the potential to grow and succeed both in and out of the classroom. She understands the importance of getting to know a student as a whole, while building off a student’s strengths, honoring their developing skills or challenges, and including their interests within instruction. Megan believes using this understanding to develop an individualized program for a student, while providing a warm, comfortable and fun environment is essential in supporting a student’s academic success. Megan focuses on positive encouragement as a tool to help students develop confidence and build or continue their love for learning.
LOCATIONS: Staten Island, Manhattan; In-Person & Online
TYPES OF SERVICES: Individualized reading and writing instruction/remediation (grades pre-K through 6th), and math instruction (grades pre-K through 3rd)
EXPERTISE: Reading, writing and math instruction/intervention; Learning differences and disabilities; Orton-Gillingham approach
AGES: Pre-K through 6th Grade
NY State Early Childhood and Students with Disabilities (B-2)
Tamara is a veteran early childhood educator with over 25 years of experience in the field. She holds an MST and MsEd from Fordham University, an MBA, and an Ed.D from Johns Hopkins University where she researched the impact adults have on children’s social/emotional development.
Tamara taught kindergarten for over 10 years, with experience in Pre-K, and first grade. She has also worked one-on-one with students from 2 to 20 years old in all areas of literacy acquisition, including phonics, phonemic awareness, writing, fluency and comprehension. She has been trained in Wilson, Fundations, Fountas and Pinnell, the Teacher’s College Reading and Writing Project, Reading Rescue and Reading Recovery and is currently the Associate Director of Professional Learning for Reading Rescue.
Tamara’s methods of instruction focus on the reading science through a multisensory approach to instruction, as well as on the fun. She prides herself on students LOVING her sessions. She works with students on not only their literacy skills, but also focusing on their self-esteem and comfort level so they are prepared to take their learning back to their classrooms. She has experience working with students with various needs including ADHD, autism, anxiety, behavior disorders, and dyslexia.
Tamara has experience working with pre-K through fifth-grade math curricula. She supports students in developing all aspects of mathematics using a multi-sensory approach. Students use real-world situations and manipulatives to not only learn the HOW of math concepts, but also the WHY. Tamara has experience working with Everyday Math, Go Math, Singapore Math, and state test prep.
In addition to literacy support, Tamara provides test prep, executive functioning skills coaching, as well as study skills.
LOCATION: Brooklyn: Downtown Brooklyn, Sunset Park, Bensonhurst, Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights; Manhattan: Upper West Side, Midtown West, Chelsea, The Village, Financial District; Staten Island; Bronx; New Jersey: Bergen and Hudson counties
TYPE OF SERVICES: Individualized reading instruction, test prep, executive functioning, study skills, parent consultation and coaching
EXPERTISE: Early childhood education, special education, early literacy acquisition, social/emotional development
AGES: birth through elementary school
Natalie Lombardo is a New York State Licensed Literacy Specialist (ages birth-grade 12) and Elementary Education Teacher. She holds a Bachelors of Science Degree and Masters in Literacy from St. John’s University where she graduated Magna Cum Laude. She has training from Columbia Teachers College Program as well as Orton-Gillingham.
Natalie has worked with students for over 16 years and has a passion for working with students struggling to read. She has provided instruction using the Orton-Gillingham Approach, Wilson Fundations Program, Learning Without Tears, Fountas & Pinnell, Journey’s Literacy Program, Go Math and Everyday Math. She is a part of her school’s instructional team and is involved in curriculum planning and writing.
Natalie believes that ALL children can learn and uses a multisensory approach and individualized instruction to ensure success. She uses her training, evaluation of the student’s needs and experience to develop a curriculum tailored to each child. She keeps her students engaged by using multisensory materials and student interest. Natalie also specializes in Executive Function Coaching. She assists students to focus, develop organizational skills, plan and prioritize, and time management. She helps students set individual learning goals and works with the parents to help her students achieve these goals and develop a love for learning.
LOCATION: Staten Island
TYPE OF SERVICES: Initial reading assessment, reading intervention, ELA instruction (phonemic awareness, decoding, comprehension, fluency & writing), test prep, elementary school math instruction & intervention, ELA & math enrichment
EXPERTISE: Working with children who have difficulty with decoding, reading fluency, reading comprehension, students with dyslexia, math intervention & enrichment
AGES: Pre school through Grade 6
M.A. in Secondary Education English Teacher Specialization
Nicole is currently a New York State certified Middle School English Teacher in Brooklyn, NY. She has worked with many different types of budding scholars from 5th graders through undergraduate college students. Her master’s degree was obtained at CUNY Brooklyn, where she graduated with distinction. Also, Nicole graduated Magna Cum Laude from Seton Hall University with a B.A. in English Honors. Her personal teaching philosophy is rooted in the words of the late, great educator Rita Pierson, “every child deserves a champion.” Nicole strives for a classroom that is inclusive, built on respect and rapport, and serves as a safe space for all learners. Each child deserves an equitable education that meets his or her needs.
Heading into her eight-year teaching, she has supported students with autism, ADHD, auditory processing disorders, visual processing disorders, dysgraphia, and struggling readers and writers. Nicole has been trained in the following programs: Engage NY, Google Apps for Education, and Expeditionary Learning. She is a Level 1 Google Certified Educator who alpha and beta tested Google Classroom in its inception in 2013. In school, her classroom is marked by students’ intrinsic motivation to learn, the inquiry process, student-centered learning, technology implementation, and fun!
Nicole specializes in English Language Arts, NYS English Regents Prep, and standardized test prep tutoring. Through patience, understanding, and conversation, she seeks to elevate all of her students. Each student will receive individualized instruction that challenges him or her through the usage of leveled texts. Every student’s program will be designed with his or her interests in order to establish a common ground and appropriate entry point for the material. Additionally, each student’s progress will be assessed to ensure the lessons are data-driven. Her students will gain comprehension through dialogue, questioning the text, making self-to-text connections, annotation, chunking, and summary. Vocabulary skills will be strengthened through practice, usage, and connotation study.
LOCATION: Brooklyn: Bensonhurst, Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Park Slope, Mill Basin, Sheepshead Bay, Bergen Beach, Marine Park areas/communities
Staten Island: Bay Terrace, West Brighton, Castleton Corners, Old Town, Great Kills, Westerleigh, Historic Richmondtown, Grymes Hill, and Todt Hill areas/communities
TYPE OF SERVICES: Initial reading assessments, individualized reading intervention and instruction, essay writing assistance, test prep
EXPERTISE: Assessment and intervention for those struggling with reading comprehension and writing
AGES: 6th grade to undergraduate college students