Tutoring Precisely

Wilson-based reading tutor

Wilson Works!

A testament to the Wilson Program, and to hard work and application of skills, the essay below was written by my Super Scooper who graduated from the Program a few years ago.  He is in the process of applying to colleges – with a 27 ACT score in reading I might add 🙂 his highest score – and wrote the essay below for part of his entrance requirements.

One of the stories I tell to most of my students is how when in Step 9 and learning double vowels, he turned to me with a light bulb moment and said, “Now I know why we need to know the keywords!”.  There are many more stories to share but the essay below sums it all up.

Thanks again to his parents for sharing this incredible person with me and allowing me to also share this essay so that others can know that it IS possible!


I was on the top bunk and dreaded getting out of my warm sleeping bag. I knew it was time to shower, so I shimmied carefully out and scootched towards the edge of the bunk. Getting down was treacherous. The bed was flimsy, so if I put my full weight on the ladder, the whole thing would tip over. I cautiously placed my feet on the top rung, and then jumped off backward, pushing the bed away from me so it would not shake. I hit the cold tile floor and stumbled around, trying not to trip over all the suitcases. Once in the shower room, I mentally prepared for the ice cold mist to come. Teeth chattering, I got clean as fast as possible and scurried back into our room to find my clothes and get ready for the day.

Even though it was cold in the morning and even colder at night, the temperature during the day would be in the 80s, and the khakis and collared shirt I must wear to show respect for the local customs would be sweltering to work in. One by one, the 30 of us met for breakfast in the old boarding house that would be our home in Kuruman, South Africa for the next two and a half weeks.

When I moved to Germany my freshman year, I learned that my international school sponsored a program called the Kalahari Experience. Anyone sophomore year or older could apply to take this trip to South Africa and help students there. Efforts included academic tutoring, teaching vocational skills, and renovating educational spaces. I knew right away this was something I wanted to do, so as soon as I was eligible, I got involved.

My group was going to create a reading room for an elementary school. In the months prior to the trip, I gathered donated books, ran bake sales to raise money, and attended the many required meetings to learn about where we were going. Everyone had a specialization, and mine was to teach reading. I had gone through the Wilson Reading program for my dyslexia, and I knew first-hand how it helped me become a better reader. I was excited but also nervous about this role.

The room we had to work with was completely barren except for bookshelves. We painted the walls with a brightly colored mural of trees, jungle animals, and tropical plants. We filled the shelves with books for every reading level, and added rugs, throw pillows, and a desk.  When it was finally done, we could not wait to show the kids. The smiles on their faces when they first walked in were priceless.

I sat down on the rug with The Very Hungry Caterpillar and my group of four children around me. The kids ranged in age from 8 to 12, and they couldn’t read at all. First, I read to them, but when I re-read the book, the kids tried to say some words themselves. This was a completely different role from what I was used to. When I looked at the faces of the students, I saw myself. I have always needed extra help and extra time with my assignments, especially in reading.  When I discovered that I have dyslexia, I began the Wilson reading program. Once I had completed the program, I thought my challenges were over, but there are still some situations where my dyslexia affects me; however, now I know how to catch and fix my mistakes. When I learned that I was going to be a reading teacher, I wondered, how was a dyslexic kid going to teach children to read who are also trying to learn English? I thought that the best way to teach the kids would be by using the tools I’d learned from the Wilson program. I taught them how to tap out the words and how to use their finger to scoop the syllables as they sounded out a word. The kids all liked these interactive approaches, and I realized that as a dyslexic student, I was the perfect person to be teaching reading.

For the rest of the week, we continued to improve the room and read with the kids every afternoon. We made alphabetized flashcards of all the words the kids learned, along with definitions of Main Idea, Story Elements, and Reader Questions. By the end of the week, my group was reading many stories on their own; our little room felt like a library and a classroom.

Down in the desert, I learned many things that I don’t think I could have learned anywhere else: that education is one of the most important things I have and that I am so fortunate to be in such an amazing school with so many opportunities. I also saw first hand how much I take for granted. Notebooks and pencils made these children’s day. When they smiled at me after reading a full book by themselves, I felt prouder than when I read a book by myself for the first time.


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Tutoring Precisely January 2018 Newsletter

After a healthy 2017 I sure took a turn and am hopefully on the mend from the flu that so many of you have had. I feel your pain! I am hoping to be back at it tomorrow but it’s early in the day so we shall see.

With the New Year come new opportunities and goals to set. I am asking the students to set some reading goals for the year. We will write the goals down and I will share these with you so that we can work together to make these happen.

I will also be letting you know your student’s WOTD (Word of the Day) as we move through our vocabulary words. These words need to be used at least three times during the course of the day they are given so as to “stick”. Referring back to them will also be a key factor to really learning them.

Sight word spelling needs more attention this year! Automaticity of these words is key to the writing process. If you are looking for suggestions as to how to accomplish practicing this please let me know.

With the weather being so terribly cold, it reminds me to remind you all again that if snow days are called, we can still have our sessions via Facetime if you are amenable. Lessons would focus on comprehension and fluency. I would email you Wilson passages that you can print out for us to use.

Thank you to all those who were so kind to think of me for the Christmas holiday. It’s very much appreciated!


We are back to our regular scheduling as of next week. The 15th is Martin Luther King Day and I will not be teaching.


I know it seems early, but as we all lay out our budgets for the year I thought I would share this with you to consider for your student. One of my graduates attended this camp last summer and absolutely loved it.

Here is the information. https://soarnc.org/

He is even in the video! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=joKuY43oKmU&utm_source=SOAR+Newsletter&utm_campaign=3b49f6823c-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_Camp+Video&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_93ab8504dd-3b49f6823c-120531349

I know it’s tempting to hunker down in this weather and let the kids play on their devices for endless hours. I get it. BUT we all know how important it is for our kiddos to keep up with their reading. I have been asking if they were reading during break and disappointingly the answers were often – no. I cannot do this alone and your student cannot either. We need your support and they need your guidance. Let’s do this together!

As always, thank you for letting me be a part of your or your child’s learning.


“One of the best compliments you can give is a referral”



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Tutoring Precisely December 2017 Newsletter

Baby, it’s not that cold outside – well not yet anyway. What a great weather we are having! I hope this finds you deep into the spirit of the season and ready for some fun holiday events.

Scheduling: Please let me know what days and times you would like during Winter Break. First come first serve J. If at all possible, I would appreciate it if lessons could happen during the day-time hours and during week, leaving the weekends of December 30th and January 6th off.

I will be compiling a schedule and try to accommodate everyone’s needs and wishes. Again, this is a perfect time to fit in some make-ups or extra sessions.

As a reminder, I am gone from December 20 to the 27th.


With the weather soon to change, and possible snow days coming up, please know that I am available via Facetime to teach when we are snowed in. I have been teaching a student in Germany using Facetime and it has been very effective.

With all of the car time coming up during the holidays with shopping trips and visiting friends and family, you can make use of the time by listening to books on CD while riding around. The library has a very nice collection and the librarians are always happy to help.

Here is an interesting article on the C Pen that you might find helpful. I’m hearing that more of my students are using this at school. https://dyslexiaida.org/at-for-reading-reading-by-pen/

If interested, I can offer you a 20% discount via Learning Ally. This is a wonderful resource. https://www.learningally.org/

For more information and fun postings, please go to my Facebook page….https://www.facebook.com/TutoringPrecisely/

Cheers to a wonderful holiday and a Happy New Year!

As always, thank you for letting me be a part of your or your child’s learning.



“One of the best compliments you can give is a referral”





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Tutoring Precisely November 2017 Newsletter

Sure feels like November – brrrrr!   I always love this cozy season – soups and stews, fires and bonfires, new movies, and snuggling up to read a good book. Perfect time to take advantage of the early nightfall and plug into a book with your kiddo!

News: Wilson is coming out with a 4th Edition early next year!

I have been asking those “in the know” just what this all means. So far I have found out that besides having to buy all new materials – YIKES! – apparently there will be heavy emphasis on fluency. We will be asked to be more stringent in this area in order for the student to progress to the next Step.

In turn, this means more parent involvement so that your kiddo is sure of achieving that fluency mark! Not only your child reading aloud everyday but also you reading to them but working on sight words, and vocab words of the day.

If I have given your student a vocabulary WOTD, they are to use it at least three times before the end of the day. Hopefully you will then remind them of the words and their meanings putting them into context of how you are using the words and suggesting they use them in their writing as a good “juicy” word. Vocabulary is crucial to Common Core and with our help our kiddos can and will succeed!

Here is a good resource for working on sight words:


Welcome to two new students and their families! A BIG SHOUT OUT to those that have been so kind in your referrals! I do so appreciate it!! Thank you!

Looks like the 95th Street Library is, for the most part, finished! YAY! It really does look great and we are enjoying the new rooms. So far I have not been asked to move once I am in a room! They are being very diligent about the teens keeping to the teen section. Looks very positive going forward J!


  • The dates of my Christmas break have changed by a day…I’ll be gone from December 20th until the 27th.
  • I will be teaching during the winter break (other than the above) and will be rearranging the schedule to daytime hours if possible.
  • I am still putting together a schedule for Wednesday November 22nd. Again, this is a perfect day for any make-ups or extra sessions – please let me know.


Last month I attended the Everyone Reading Illinois Conference (the Illinois chapter of the International Dyslexia Association) and a workshop about Executive Functioning given by the author Peg Dawson.

Both were really, really wonderful and I have learned so much from each.

I highly recommend Dr. Dawson’s books! http://www.smartbutscatteredkids.com/

She has written a few and you will be able to find the one that fits. Her info on Amazon is below…she even offers a planner! She will explain so much of why your child is the way he or she is and how to manage it and help them! If you get the chance to attend a workshop yourself you will not regret it. I sat next to a mom who was there for her son and her take away was huge.


The Everyone Reading Illinois Conference has prompted me to teach more morphology! We heard this gentleman speak and he was so informative with amazing ideas and practices that I will be using!


There were so many other great sessions at the conference as well. If you would like to borrow the binder we were given and take a look through, just let me know. I am happy to share.

And again, I will say that if you haven’t already, you need, yes you need to read Sally Shaywitz’s book. This was referred to over and over again by so many of the speakers. It pretty much is the dyslexia bible.

As always, thank you for letting me be a part of your or your child’s learning.


“One of the best compliments you can give is a referral”




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Tutoring Precisely October 2017 Newsletter

National Dyslexia Awareness Month

Time again to celebrate all the accomplishments and progress your kiddo has made! And time to spread the word that with the right support that progress CAN be made!

Although I wrote this very same paragraph last year I, will repeat it again this year as it holds true yet again….

By this time your child’s teachers are really getting to know them. Making sure all their IEP and 504 accommodations are in place, and are being followed is something that needs your constant attention.   Please know that I am more than happy to establish or maintain a relationship with any of your child’s teachers. Permission forms must be signed and kept on file within the school. Let me know.


  • October is National Dyslexia Awareness month. Let’s celebrate the fact that each year this learning disability is getting more and more recognition and more remediation is being offered within the schools.

There is a cool screen saver you can download here: https://dyslexiaida.org/october-is-dyslexia-awareness-month/


The 95th Street Library will be closing again for renovations on October 9th and 10th. October 9th is Columbus Day and I will not be teaching. I will be holding Tuesday, October 10th sessions at the Nichols Library again. Hopefully, this will be the last time!

  • Halloween is one of my favorite “holidays”. I will only be teaching in the morning on Tuesday October 31st, not in the afternoon and evening. I hope all your ghouls and ghosts have a great time!
  • On October 25th, I will be attending the Everyone Reading Illinois Conference. Thttps://everyonereadingillinois.org/events This is a two-day conference, but I will only be going on the 25th so as not to cancel so many sessions. I will not be teaching in the morning or afternoon on this day.
  • On October 30th, I will be attending a workshop called “Smart but scattered”. In an effort to become a better resource for my student’s I will be learning more about executive functioning. I will not be teaching on this day. I have downloaded the information about this and attached it here if you are interested.
  • With the holidays approaching, please let me know if you will be taking vacations. The earlier I know the better so others can take your vacant spots. I will again be going to spend Christmas with my brother and his family in Boston. I will be gone from December 21 through the 28th. Otherwise, I will be teaching throughout the Winter Break with adjustments in times but trying to keep to your days.


If you haven’t already, please pick up the book “Overcoming Dyslexia” by Sally Schaywitz. Such a great resource – I highly recommend it! http://dyslexia.yale.edu/book_Overcoming.html

The Library just held a Star Wars day and it was a big success. All the characters showed up including R2D2!

One of the many ways you can help your reader establish background knowledge – which leads to better comprehension and vocabulary – is to expose them to live shows, music, going to museums, and events like Star Wars day.   There are so many opportunities locally and in Chicago. I highly encourage you to take advantage of all we have available to us. I’ve listed some of them here for you…





As always, thank you for letting me be a part of your or your child’s learning.


“One of the best compliments you can give is a referral”



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Tutoring Precisely August/September Newsletter 2017

We’ve had some beautiful weather lately – I hope you have been enjoying it! I had an exhausting week off moving my daughter back down to school. Emotionally and physically exhausting. I could not be more proud however and am looking forward to one more year of cheering on the MIZZOU Tigers.

I hope all your children are ready for a great school year. I am set to start our Fall and Winter schedule tomorrow, Monday the 21st. Maybe with the eclipse on the same day it will bring us all great luck for a happy and productive 2017/2018 year.

Scheduling: I know some of you will be struggling to make your student’s schedules all work as sports and other activities come up. I will try to help to accommodate everyone and would appreciate as much forewarning as possible about conflicts. This will help everyone out.

Please remember that I will be taking an actual vacation over the Labor Day Holiday weekend from Thursday August 31st and returning to teach on September 5th. I had sent an email about this earlier. So no lessons on 8/31, 9/1 and 9/2. That Monday is the Holiday and I would not be teaching then.

I will be attending this years Everyone Reading Illinois conference here in Naperville on Wednesday, October 25th. And to keep up with my efforts toward continuing education, I am going to learn more about Executive Functioning on Monday, October 30th.  

I only visit my daughter a couple of times a year and the first weekend I will be going is Homecoming weekend from October 20th to the 22nd.

I will not be teaching on these days.

Sharing: Please visit my blog and check out my Spotlight Student. I’m so very proud of this young man! Congratulations Paul!

If you haven’t had a chance to check this out on my Facebook page, I highly recommend watching it. https://www.facebook.com/goalcast/?hc_ref=ARR0aZtORcQaFMakJfI_GSkXLgk6fHiOi2cBkld9E4AZSz88J4qT3zCCWHwxTykr_pk

News: As you know, I am looking into expanding my business. I have been interviewing potential teachers lately but cannot find any that are either already Wilson trained or certified. If you know of anyone who might be interested please give them my information. I would appreciate it!

As always, thank you for letting me be a part of your or your child’s learning.


“One of the best compliments you can give is a referral”








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Spotlight Student August 2017

Paul, who is 10 and about to enter 5th grade, and I are having a ton of laughs together as he moves through the Wilson Program swiftly and with a smile on his face. In a little less than a year, Paul has completed the first half of the Wilson Program – Steps One through Six. Record time!  This active and eager learner greets me every session with a BIG smile and a curious mind as he runs up the stairs.

My sign off on my correspondence has always been, “Thank you for letting me be a part of your, or your child’s learning”. I am reminded how lucky I am and just love it when I get emails with stories like this one.  Let me set it up for you…not too long ago, Paul’s mom related that Paul was having some confusion with the vowel team ea and it’s three sounds.

Here’s the email: (Gotta love his book choice!)

So this morning Paul is reading out of a book of the 1000 most disgusting facts.
And he reads the word “sweat” as “sweet”.
I corrected him because the sentence did not make sense with the word sweet in it. And I said something about the “ea” making an “eh” sound.
Paul said “I need to learn that from Mrs. Olson because in the word eat “ea” says “ee” and we haven’t learned how I’m supposed to know the difference.
Ha!!! Mrs. Olson in our everyday life over here!

As we approach the second half of the Wilson Program – Steps Seven through Twelve – Paul’s understanding of Steps One through Six is evidenced by his WADE Mastery score of ….(drum roll please!)

100% in reading

90% in spelling

Super, super wonderful work!

Even better and the cherry on top for me – when I asked him if he had any new hobbies or interests since when we first met, he looked at me with his big brown eyes and said, “Well, I like to read.” TA DA!!!!

Thank you to Paul’s parents – for letting me be a part of your son’s learning.




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Tutoring Precisely June/July 2017 Newsletter


Happy Summer!  And Happy Fourth of July!

I hope you are enjoying yourselves and not forgetting to make time to accomplish your student’s daily reading.  With the summer sessions now in full swing the required summer reading is as well.  As a reminder, 20 minutes a day is REQUIRED.  This is the student reading at their independent level to you.  You reading to them is always recommended and will bring about other benefits such as vocabulary, and rich discussion of plot, characters, etc.  Those that bring back a completed Reading Log at the end of a months’ time will have a session of educational games as a reward.

Please know that I am a Learning Ally Preferred Tutor and can pass along a 20% discount J.  This is a great resource for any student, and can be used as a read along for extra exposure.

Scheduling:  As vacations and camps come up for the summer, please let me know as soon as possible.  I have some student’s who would like your temporary slots.

I have been sending out updated days and times that have come open.  If you have not been getting these emails please let me know.

News:  I am expanding my business!  I am so excited to tell you that I hope to be hiring tutors and up and running by fall.  If you are interested, or know of anyone that is interested in working either part-time of full-time, please let me know or give them my name and number.  Ask me – I’ll fill you in on it all!

Sharing:  One of my new students, Alex, has come up with some pretty creative ways to learn his sight words.  His latest idea is to have mom make his pancakes into the letters of the word and then as he is eating each letter he is repeating the letter with each chew.  How great is that?!

Asking:  I know this seems almost silly, but I am asking that your student not wear shoes that can easily be slid off.  (Flip-flops, Crocks etc.) This is not only a distraction but becomes an excuse to delay what is being asked of them.  There are so many other times when redirection is needed, please let’s not add yet another.

I am looking forward to great and productive summer!  And, as always, thank you for letting me be a part of your, or your child’s learning.


“One of the best compliments you can give is a referral”




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Tutoring Precisely April/May Newsletter 2017

Time sure does fly when you’re not feeling well – or NOT! Thanks everyone for your concern and kind words while I have been recovering. I am happy to say that (after over a month) I am BACK! YAY! April is a blurr to me what with concentrating on getting well, so I am combining these last two months.

If you haven’t already, you will be receiving an email confirming your days and times for summer. Again, please try to tell me well in advance of any days your student will be missing so I can fill in or rearrange.

For those that are new or have forgotten, during the summer I REQUIRE at least 20 minutes a day of reading – including weekends. I will be handing out reading logs and instructions at the beginning of the summer session. The importance of this is outlined here:

“What we know is that children who do not read in the summer lose two to three months of reading development while kids who do read tend to gain a month of reading proficiency,” Allington said. “This creates a three to four month gap every year. Every two or three years the kids who don’t read in the summer fall a year behind the kids who do.”


As you can imagine, this is even more important for our kiddos!

News: Today I will be saying good-bye to yet another Wilson graduate. Amanda’s work in the Wilson Program has seen her through to a greater knowledge of sound to symbol, reading and spelling at a higher level, and introduction to a more robust vocabulary. At fourteen, she is ready to take on most anything put in front of her! So, so proud, and again another bittersweet goodbye.

Scheduling: Again, I will not be teaching next week. I will be taking a Wilson course in Oak Brook and honing my skills J. I am excited to be the one who is learning and will be excited to put my new knowledge into action!

With Jackie’s graduation and a trip to Cleveland, I will not be teaching on either weekend as well and return to our regular schedule on Tuesday, May 23rd.

Sharing: Some of you have been asking me about programs that can be used in a school setting and/or at home. Here is a pretty good answer and hopefully will also reassure you that you have chosen the right program for your student. Wilson Works!


As always, thank you for letting me be a part of your or your child’s learning.



“One of the best compliments you can give is a referral”





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Tutoring Precisely March Newsletter 2017

As Spring Break looms on the horizon, and then just a matter of weeks until the end of the school year, testing has begun! This can often be a stressful time for our kiddos. I’m sure the schools are trying to help everyone out by giving advice on how to prepare and make your student comfortable. Along with their advice I have some great links for you to read as well. If there is anything I can do please let me know!


The Dyslexia Action Group of Naperville had their first fundraiser last night and it was a huge success! If you have not checked out this great group of volunteers you can go here:


Thank you to one of my past student’s mom who came to support me. Her presence was much, much appreciated and I am so glad to reconnect!

Check me out as Learning Ally’s Tutor of the Month for February! What an honor! Thanks to all that has helped me along my journey – please know how much I appreciate each one of you!

When Students with Dyslexia Access Reading, It’s a Superpower!

The Third Annual Bowling Party is a go with seven families coming. This should be a fun event allowing students and parents a chance to have fun and get to know one another. There is still room if you can make it let me know!



I will not be teaching over Spring Break – March 25th through April 1st.

Taking a look at dates for future planning:

  • In May, I will attending my daughter’s graduation (!) and not teaching.

May 12th through the 15th.

  • I am then scheduled for an appointment at the Cleveland Clinic leaving on the 19th and not returning until the evening of the 22nd.
  •                                 All in all, I will not be teaching from May 12th until the 23rd.

Be on the look out for Summer Scheduling Forms to come after Spring Break. As always, first come first serve so get your forms in early (and often – Ha!). All sessions will be held at the 95th Street Library Monday through Thursday 9:00 to 5:00 and Friday’s 9:00 to noon.


I found this interesting:


Here are some good sites to help with the upcoming testing:





As always, thank you for letting me be a part of your or your child’s learning.


“One of the best compliments you can give is a referral”




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