Glenn Alperin: Writing Tutor, Math Tutor, Life Coach

Reading

When I tutor, I may assign reading for any combination of three different reasons:

* to assess reading comprehension skills
* to provide as a starting point for additional discussion
* to provide as a starting point for a writing assignment

Strong reading skills are critical to the success of students at all levels as well as adults. Our everyday lives are filled with information which we must read and learn to comprehend quickly. One purpose for reading is to relax and enjoy a good book or good article, but more often than not, many people are required to read for either an academic or professional project. Being able to pull together information from disparate sources to get a more thorough understanding of a topic is an extremely valuable skill. However, that is often just the beginning of our need to engage in reading.

Frequently, people are called upon to present what they have read to a much larger audience, either by way of a speech, a debate, or an article they must write. For such projects, reading is only the first step. However, if this step is not undertaken carefully, it might ruin the future of any such project, particularly if the original comprehension is poor.

As a tutor working with a student who needs assistance with reading, my goal is to make sure, firstly, that reading comprehension is good. I usually do this by discussing the reading material with my students. Any reading I might assign is typically material I have already read, so I am already intimately familiar with the topic. Although I may have developed an opinion about the material, it is not my goal to convince my students of the merits of my opinion. Instead, it is my goal to allow my students to be able to think critically about the nature of the material they are reading so that they can more easily draw their own informed conclusions.

When my students are able to think more for themselves because their understanding of the topics has markedly increased, I know they will be able to think more critically about the things they read. In addition, they will become more adept at listening and better at presenting what they have read to others. Last but not least, they will gain the self-confidence necessary to build upon all of their skills and become better students.