A Struggling Young Child Learned to Read
By Jessie Palmatier | September 19, 2018
A Reading Tutor – and a book about octopuses – helped ignite a passion for reading!
Soraida began the school year as a shy child who lacked confidence, struggling to learn and read in English. Soraida’s teachers helped partner her with a Succeeding by Reading tutor. However, after limited success with both English and Spanish communication, Soraida told her reading tutor, Diane, about her first teacher in her home country—a teacher who didn’t speak English or Spanish well. Puzzled, Diane eventually found out that Soraida’s first language was a regional, tribal language and she was learning English not as her second, but third language!
Soraida was eager to learn to read in English, but Diane struggled to find ways to successfully communicate. After some experimentation, Diane found that Soraida was a tactile learner, and thrived by touching and doing. The two worked together, building their relationship and Soraida’s confidence by completing puzzles, workbooks, and activities where neither one of them had all the answers.
“Who would have thought that our common language would be octopus?”
During one tutoring session, Soraida found a picture of an octopus and lit up, telling Diane she wished they had an octopus book. Inspired, Diane set out on a lengthy search at her local library to find a book about octopuses that the two could read together. A bilingual octopus book in English and Spanish proved to be a turning point for the pair, igniting Soraida’s curiosity and confidence.
Soraida began to take ownership over her learning—identifying words she knew, thought she knew, or wanted to learn. Diane was delighted to see Soraida gaining so much confidence. Over the course of the school year, Soraida opened up to Diane about her family, their story, and their struggles. It took almost an entire school year of one-on-one tutoring sessions with Diane for Soraida to come out of her shell.
Thanks to her tutor’s weekly time and attention, Soraida made a breakthrough. Now, she is set up for even greater success this school year and is positioned to catch up to her peers!