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How Reading Tutors Help: An Overview for Parents

Reading Tutors Help

Reading tutors help by using evaluation and assessment tools that target your child’s reading issues, then develop strategies to support their growth.

The three most essential reading tutor services are:

  1. Reading Comprehension
  2. Reading Strategies
  3. Reading Ability 

There are two off-the-radar strategies that the best reading tutors use. These two strategies turbocharge the help these tutors give with reading comprehension, reading strategies, and reading ability.  

How do tutors help with reading comprehension?

Reading in general and, more importantly, reading comprehension ability can be very concerning for parents and students alike.  Parents wondering, “How far behind is my child, and are they slipping through the cracks?” are questions I often hear as a building principal.   

Tutors help struggling students with reading comprehension by talking with students about the text they are reading. Getting to know the child helps with reading comprehension because tutors can help select and read readers that children can relate to. This helps them make connections while reading.

The data shows readers’ prior knowledge is the key to leveraging reading students’ ability to understand best what they read.  By getting to know students, reading tutors can support their reading comprehension by selecting texts that interest students.  

Tutoring Strategies for Success

Physical Movement

The best tutors have a method or strategy that is research and brain-based and proven to support focused attention.  Physical movement does both of these things. It is one of the under-the-radar strategies to turbocharge student learning.  Physical exertion improves reading by supporting focused attention and making learning more accessible. 

Assess and Evaluate 

As reading tutors get to know their students and help select the appropriate text, the best tutors do some critical things immediately. First, they assess and evaluate what type of reading comprehension students need support with.  This helps them pick the correct reading level and find texts that their student will enjoy. 

Reading Comprehension

Within reading comprehension, there are five subcategories of comprehension.  The five subcategories are verbal comprehension, literal comprehension, interpretive comprehension, applied comprehension, and affective comprehension. These five subcategories become more potent as students improve in each area. For example, it is the difference in experience between five separate dishes and a five-course meal.   

Lexical comprehension is the fundamental level where students simply understand the meaning of the words they read.  

Literal comprehension is the “Get Smart, Just the Facts Ma’am” level of understanding where students can answer the four “w”s (Who, What, When, and Where) and How questions. 

Interpretive Comprehension demonstrates a higher level of comprehension.  As student understanding improves, they can make inferences, explain why things happened, answer what-if questions, and wonder, “How about this or that.” 

Applied Comprehension is also a higher level of comprehension.  In this instance, students connect with things they have read, seen, and experienced.  At this level, students can also connect with their values and support these connections with evidence from the text. 

Affective Comprehension is the empathetic level of comprehension where students make connections based on social mores, cultural norms, and how they would feel if they were a character within the text.  

Each of these five subcategories makes up the skills within reading comprehension.  They stack upon one another, becoming more powerful as you level up to each comprehension type.  Reading tutors enhance five subcategories of reading comprehension, improving overall reading comprehension. 

How do tutors help with reading strategies? 

Choosing the correct strategies when tutoring students struggling with reading shouldn’t be random, like throwing darts. Instead, it has to be more systematic. 

Tutors help with reading strategies by tailoring them at specific times to students depending on their individual needs.  Reading tutors also help with reading strategies by combining what they know about their students with these strategies, layering one atop the other as students develop skills and confidence. This is the heart and science of supporting struggling readers.

This skill incorporates both the art and science of student support.  The art is built on the tutor’s relationship with the student and an intuitive sense of what that student needs to succeed now.  The science is the specific strategy that the tutor has chosen to work on based on the data and the student’s progress.  

Four reading strategies

As a general rule, the four most common reading strategies are scanning, skimming, intensive reading, and extensive reading. 


Scanning is looking for a predetermined piece of information within the text. For example, the student may be looking for the definition of the word “scan” and would move their eyes over the page looking for the keyword “scan,” pause there and see if the definition followed.  If not, they would continue through the text until they locate that information. 


Skimming is similar to scanning because students aren’t looking for the nitty gritty. Instead, students are trying to get the broad strokes of the reading material.  At the end of skimming, students should have the main idea of that particular chunk of material that they are reading. 

Scanning and skimming are most commonly paired with lexical and literal reading comprehension levels for struggling readers.  As students level their reading comprehension skills, they are ready to tackle intensive and extensive reading strategies.  

Intensive reading 

Intensive reading involves diving deep into the literal meaning of the text. With intensive reading, students seek to gain information they can use later.  An example would be reading a school science textbook.  

Extensive Reading 

Extensive reading entails reading a broad range of material. First, students ask themselves interpretive, applied, and affective comprehension questions. Then, they analyze the text to extract themes and meaning within and across texts. 

How do tutors help with reading ability?  

With two out of three students struggling with reading and the learning stagnation caused by educational institutions’ reaction to COVID-19, parents are frantic to help their children regain lost reading ability.  They want help for their child, and the faster they can get help and see results, the better.  

For tutors to help with reading comprehension and reading strategies, they must focus on increasing students’ reading ability. Therefore, the best reading tutors focus on boosting students’ basic reading skills. Then, based on their initial assessment and evaluation, tutors would address decoding, vocabulary, fluency, language conventions, and focused attention deficiencies. 


Decoding is the foundation of reading.  It is the recognition of letters, letter combinations, and the corresponding sounds.  In schools, you may hear this called phonics.  This is taught in the earliest grades, kindergarten through second grade.  Phonics is a critical skill that beginning readers must master. 


Vocabulary focuses on sight words for beginning and struggling readers.  These are frequently used words in children’s literature that students start to identify within a few seconds.  The larger the students’ sight word vocabulary, the better their fluency. 


Fluency is the ability to read smoothly and confidently at grade level.  This typically means students have a large enough grasp of grade-level sight words to read texts with little difficulty.  

Language Conventions

Language conventions are the nuts and bolts of writing.  At a beginning reader level, these include grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure.  At a more advanced level, identifying language conventions such as figurative language and imagery and topic and summary sentences help students analyze texts.  

Focused Attention 

Focused attention is the ability to concentrate on the task at hand for a specific period of time. This is the holy grail of reading and what all tutors strive for as they build strong relationships with their students. With focused, sustained attention, improving students’ reading over time is more accessible. 

For many students, reading is a struggle. There are many layers to the skill of reading. The best reading tutors assess your child and develop a plan to support them where they need it. They establish a strong relationship with their students and incorporate physical movement to supercharge skills acquisition, improving focus, fitness, and fearlessness.