How To Pick the Right Online Reading Tutor

How to select an online reading tutor

What is Online Reading Tutoring?

Online reading tutoring pairs students with experienced instructors or specialists who guide them through targeted lessons focused on developing core reading competencies like decoding, fluency, comprehension, and vocabulary. These sessions often incorporate digital materials, interactive books, and educational games to create an engaging learning experience. The most effective online reading tutoring programs use the Orton-Gillingham method, a scientifically backed approach that emphasizes explicit, systematic instruction in phonemic awareness, phonics, and spelling rules. They also deliver personalized, one-on-one sessions tailored to each child’s unique needs.

I often hear parents complain that their children did not learn well virtually during the pandemic. They witnessed exhausted and overwhelmed teachers, with little online teaching experience, trying to corral 35 children who had their cameras turned off on Zoom. Fortunately, working one-on-one with a qualified online reading tutor is an entirely different experience.

How To Pick the Right Online Reading Tutor: What Parents Really Need to Know

1. Make sure the tutor is qualified and experienced.

Simply put, not all “online reading tutors” are created equal. The term can encompass a wide range of tutors, from high school students looking for some extra income to master’s-level specialists with decades of experience. Parents should think carefully about the qualifications and expertise of potential tutors to ensure their child receives the best possible help.

The most experienced online reading tutors typically hold advanced degrees in education and are often certified as Orton-Gillingham tutors by programs accredited by the International Dyslexia Association (IDA). These professionals have undergone rigorous training, been observed by seasoned tutors or “fellows,” and amassed years of hands-on experience working one-on-one with students across varying skill levels and reading-related diagnoses, including dyslexia (also known as word recognition deficit), reading comprehension deficit, and dysorthography.

One of the significant advantages of online reading tutoring is that students can access world-class reading experts from their homes, regardless of where they live. In many cases, working with an online tutor who specializes in dyslexia and other reading challenges can be a more effective option than in-person tutoring with a less experienced tutor.

2. Make sure the online reading tutor uses the Orton-Gillingham approach. 

Orton-Gillingham tutoring, or OG tutoring, is the gold standard for teaching phonics, spelling, and reading skills to struggling readers and individuals with dyslexia. This approach emphasizes explicit, systematic instruction in phonemic awareness, phonics, and spelling rules, and is tailored to each student’s unique needs, strengths, and learning styles.

Unlike one-size-fits-all programs, experienced online Orton-Gillingham tutors carefully craft each session to match the student’s current skills, personality, and interests. They employ a multi-sensory approach, engaging visual, auditory, and tactile elements to create stronger neural connections and enhance retention. Online platforms like Zoom allow students to interact with texts, highlight, underline, and manipulate digital materials, fostering an immersive and tactile learning experience. (Read more about the Orton-Gillingham approach.)

3. Make sure the curriculum is customized for your child.

There are many options online today, including AI-based reading games, regimented step-by-step programs, and group classes, but the most effective approach is one-on-one virtual reading tutoring, customized for your child. Only through this kind of individualized attention can a tutor design lessons that align perfectly with a child’s learning style, strengths, weaknesses, and interests. The best outcomes unfortunately don’t come from one-size-fits-all approaches to online reading tutoring.

Experienced tutors conduct detailed assessments to pinpoint specific skill gaps and tailor each lesson accordingly. In addition, it’s not just what online tutors are teaching. It is how they teach it. An exceptional online reading tutor will build a rapport with each student, getting to know their likes, dislikes, and their style of learning and customize the curriculum for that student. Students are motivated by trust in their teacher and that teacher’s ability to make the material accessible to them in an engaging way. And the tutor should not move on until material is mastered.

Finally, if you’re seeking a highly experienced Orton-Gillingham tutor to work with your child online, I hope you will consider me, Joanna Brown, or my colleagues at The Reading Guru. We keep our pricing reasonable and have an excellent team of experienced Orton-Gillingham tutors.

About The Reading Guru

Joanna Brown, founder and CEO of The Reading Guru, is a master Orton-Gillingham reading tutor with more than 15 years of experience providing personalized, one-on-one reading instruction. Joanna earned her M.S. in Elementary Education and Literacy from Bank Street College of Education in New York City in 2011. Joanna is certified by the Center for Effective Reading Instruction (CERI) as a Structured Literacy Dyslexia Specialist (C-SLDS). She earned this certification through training at the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators (AOGPE) as well as with the digital, multisensory training program, Lexercise. Joanna also has training with the Orton-Gillingham based, multi-sensory program Preventing Academic Failure (PAF). Joanna and her team at The Reading Guru use an individualized, tailored personal approach with students and have consistently achieved outstanding results. For more information about The Reading Guru, click here.

Joanna Brown, The Reading Guru

Joanna Brown

Joanna Brown, M.S. Ed, C-SLDS, is a master reading teacher with 15 years of experience, and has helped hundreds of children crack the reading code. She offers one-on-one, live, online, individualized Orton-Gillingham-based reading tutoring to students of all ages and skill levels, worldwide, including those with dyslexia.

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