Discover how EBLI is different and why kids love reading tutoring with an EBLI tutor
1. An EBLI tutor starts with speech
The number one reason kids love tutoring with an EBLI tutor (Evidenced-Based Literacy Instruction) is because it is different from what they have already done in the past. Many kids who are struggling in reading have already tried other approaches and they haven’t worked.
At first, they might think “Oh no, another reading tutor.” But they quickly realize that EBLI is different, and they relax. Soon they are smiling.
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What makes EBLI tutoring so different is that we start with the spoken word. When I first meet with students and their parents, I point out that speaking is natural, but reading is not. Most babies learn to speak naturally by imitating their parents. But they can’t learn to decode written words simply by watching their parents read.
The reason we need to read and write is to communicate with people who are not with us in space or time. Writing is a way for us to put our thoughts on paper. And reading is a way for us to hear the words others have transcribed onto paper.
When I say paper, I mean any writing surface including digital forms. Once kids realize we are starting from something they already know, they become curious.
2. EBLI tutoring is active
Now that they are curious, an EBLI tutor gives them something to do right away. “Take your caps off your markers” is one of the first things I say. Next comes “Put lines down for the sounds you hear in ______.” Other cues are: “Say as you write” and “Tell me your sounds”. Listening to the sounds that come out of their mouths forces them to be actively involved.
After that, they write the letters and letter combinations representing these sounds on the lines. I give them immediate feedback on how they write their letters.
Practicing correct letter formation keeps kids active and stimulates their brain.
Not only does making their writing legible give them pride, the motor planning of letter formation also increases their reading comprehension.
Once they have fixed their spellings and letter formations, they erase the whole board and write it one more time beautifully. The spelling has been orthographically mapped into their brains.
This exercise does not take much time, but they can immediately see the progress in both their handwriting and in their learning of correct spelling patterns. The quick pace also keeps the activities fun and engaging.
3. The EBLI activities are challenging, not babyish
Even though speech is natural, becoming aware of the sounds coming out of our mouths is not always easy. Noticing the sounds that make up words when you speak is a challenging and active exercise. All the activities work on this in different ways.
Becoming aware of the sounds coming out of our mouths and mapping those sounds to spellings also changes our thinking. When kids (and adults) do these activities, they make amazing discoveries about sounds and spellings. Having these “aha” moments is a good feeling.
“I can’t believe <ey> is a spelling for the /a/ sound when it doesn’t even have the letter A in it.” – Olivia, grade 5
Olivia said this to me on her first day of EBLI tutoring. On her own, she had already discovered the second of the three important concepts underlying this method of reading instruction:
- In English, 1, 2, 3, or 4 letters can represent one sound.
- The same sound can have different spellings.
- The same spelling can have different sounds.
An EBLI tutor explicitly teaches these concepts right away. Olivia happened to have discovered the second one on her own. These concepts are what makes it possible to move much faster in EBLI than in other methods.
Instead of introducing one spelling per lesson, EBLI introduces 6-7 spellings for the same sound. Rather than overwhelm them, this helps kids read accurately much faster. Right away they are reading and spelling multisyllabic words alone and in authentic texts.
In addition, vocabulary is interwoven into every EBLI activity.
4. In EBLI tutoring, there are no rules
This is the hardest part for adults to understand. But kids love that there are no rules, only patterns to discover.
For example, most structured literacy approaches teach students extensive syllable division rules to decode multisyllabic words. Students apply numerous steps to analyze a multisyllabic word before reading it.
This is very tedious, and the worst part is that there are as many exceptions to the rules as there are rules themselves.
It turns out that that you don’t need to know syllable types to read multisyllabic words. You only need to know that each syllable contains a vowel sound.
There are a few other strategies involved in reading multisyllabic words but they don’t include massive analysis that taxes working memory and is not even useful. An EBLI tutor focuses on getting kids reading authentic text accurately and quickly.
5. Their EBLI tutor is so happy
Kids love EBLI tutoring because they get to work with an adult who is happy. When I close my computer after finishing with may last student of the day, I feel good — like an important and effective member of society doing good in the world.
I love practicing my craft and getting better and better each time. I like that the quick pace keeps the students challenged and interested, but that I can also vary the pace for each student according to their needs.
Not every student is jumping for joy when we start tutoring. But even the most resistant students get caught up in the process and suddenly I see a flash of “Aha” go across their face.
“I’ve never done anything like this in school.” – Kaden, 2nd grade
I also love that there is a wide community of people learning and practicing structured linguistic literacy through EBLI. I like belonging to the EBLI Facebook groups asking and answering questions and hearing about everyone’s successes.
Some people refer to these quick gains as the “magic of EBLI”. In the age of the Science of Reading, I don’t want to call this learning process magic. Sine there is so much we don’t understand about the brain and how it recognizes patterns and begins to self-teach that it feels like magic. The EBLI method, however, is actually common sense.
“Francis has been so excited all week asking when is his next class.” – Parent of Francis, kindergarten
Mainly I love that I am able to remediate kids’ reading, spelling, and writing challenges in a reasonable amount of time so that they are able to feel confident and fully participate in the joys of reading and writing and live successful lives.
What are some more reasons your kids love EBLI tutoring? Let me know in the comments. Or if you want to see if your child will love EBI tutoring, give me a call, email, or schedule a free assessment.