Increased literacy, SAT/ACT test prep, college prep, general test-taking improvement and increased self-confidence. There are many reasons to work to improve a student’s (or your!) vocabulary.

One of the best ways to improve a student’s vocabulary is to keep what I call simply, a vocabulary journal. This can be a dedicated notebook or sheet of paper on which the student writes down any new word they may come across in their reading that they are not familiar with.


I recommend (unlike my personal example in the picture) students use one line below the new word to write their guess of the definition based on context clues, and another line dedicated to the actual definition once the student has looked it up. It is best to do all these immediately, as the student is reading, instead of trying to look them all up later which can seem overwhelming and out of context.

The next steps involve simple repetition: Every time the student sits down to do homework, have them review their vocab journal for just a few minutes (no more than 10 minutes). If there are certain words the student is struggling with, encourage them to make a flash card for each of those words and review the cards along with homework time, once again for just a few minutes.

If your student puts in the effort, the rewards of an increased vocabulary will certainly pay off!



New! Learn to Love Reading Class

Learn to Love Reading 3rd through 5th grade fall flier

Learn to Love Reading Class!
Oct. 11-Nov. 16, 1-2:15 pm W/Th,
for students in grades 3-5
Cost is $65/quarter; Kettering, OH

Our new “Learn to Love Reading!” class covers 2 classic, age-appropriate books each quarter (10 weeks) throughout the year (summer included).

This engaging, interactive class will include out-loud reading (mostly by myself) and light assignments. First, shortened class starts Wed. Oct. 11th and goes until Nov. 16th with, “Little House in the Big Woods.”

Students are strongly encouraged to bring their own copies to read along. Class is limited to 5 students. Don’t forget your sun bonnet!

Register by scrolling to the bottom of the page at, or contact Loura at or call 937-902-2356

Student Owned Learning, LLC

Growing up with a dad who had a PhD in microbiology along with myriad other degrees, science and research went hand-in-hand with daily learning. However, as a person who leans more towards art and emotion and rule-bending, science and math always seemed so mysterious to me.

I’ll admit it: I was intimidated by those subjects as a teen! I could memorize facts and formulas, I understood the scientific method, and I even came to rely on research for nearly all my writing and art projects. Still, there seemed to be a code about science and math I just couldn’t crack.

I firmly believe science and art go hand-in-hand. People are multifaceted, and the arts serve to inspire and vice-versa. So what is it about science and math that cause so many people to struggle with those subjects?

  • Many believe a lack of hands-on activities hurts science involvement and understanding. Thankfully, there has been a significant uptick in the number of science museums with such activities, as well as class room activities.


  • Language barriers. Every branch of science has specific, technical terms associated with it, just like every branch of any other industry. If kids can memorize all the different Minecraft characters, if moms can memorize all the different types of diapers, bottles, and formula, they can memorize science terms too.


  • Science is slow. It just is. It is methodical, it is pain-staking, and many times the routine in observation is, well, less-than thrilling for most.


  • Science is inconclusive. You should never hear a scientist say, “This proves beyond a doubt that…” This tends to go against our human nature that craves decisiveness, admires risk-takers, and encourages innovation.


  • In an effort to show all the different aspects of science (a good intention), public systems tend to teach breadth, not depth. When there are specific classes like chemistry or biology, the wealth of new information comes at students like a fire-hose, and they rarely have adequate time to learn.


  • Lastly, our highly competitive society has inadvertently taught young people that something “hard” (I always say, “challenging”) isn’t worth their time, if they can just as well spend their effort in things that come easier to them. Better to get a higher GPA or class score, than to work hard but only get a C.

Science is actually not hard or super-complicated, but it does require patience, attention to detail, and straight-up memorization of technical terms, formulas, and other important information. It is time to de-mystify science by encouraging your kids (and yourself!) to continue exploring new subjects and not give up because it seems hard or time-consuming. Let’s crack that code!

10 Study tips picAnother book is born! Introducing, “10 Study Tips for ADD/ADHD Students,” a short e-guide to help you or your student have the best study sessions possible.

“I get that little boys are wild and crazy, but mine is beyond this.”

Comments like these pop up all the time on social media parenting forums. Tired, frustrated parents struggle with providing the best education for their children who just don’t seem to “get it.”

While the discouraging rate of learning disabilities and mental disorders increases among children, there is hope in the encouraging trends toward innovative teaching techniques and learning methods, apart from the traditional “one size fits all approach”. suited to these awesome kids.

“10 Study Tips for ADD/ADHD Students,” is a little study guide written with parents and homeschool teachers in mind, although children from 6th grade on up can read and learn study tips from this book too.

Simply designed, easy-to-implement tips are geared toward students of all ages who may have trouble focusing on homework or in class.


Using Dice in Teaching Math

dice-2It’s no secret that many students struggle with math. Because of this struggle, both kids and adults often have the impression that math is boring, hard, and something to be feared. Math was certainly a challenge for me in school! Thankfully, many schools and teachers are beginning to teach math from multiple angles (pun intended) and learning styles.

The other day I was “wearing my jewelry making hat” and happened upon these unique math dice from Koplow Games’ catalog. While the company does not sell to individuals, teachers might be able to place orders through their schools, and parents might be able to request these as custom orders from local board gaming stores.


As a visual learner myself, I can see these fun math dice helping students test their math facts memorization in a more engaging manner than flash cards (but by all means, do use flash cards!). They could be used to play simple team games at home or school with parents or other students, and could also be mixed and matched with pictures or worksheets.

For example, the money dice set could be paired with real coins or coin cutouts in a short matching game, as could the fraction dice. Use the math operations dice set by rolling 1-3 dice, and have the student call out the names of the symbols.

What ideas can you come up with for using these as a teaching aid?

*Just in case you were wondering, I am not receiving any compensation for my views or post.

Excited to Announce New Children’s Book!

NonameAfter more than 2 years in the making, I am proud to announce the arrival of The Amazingly Brainy and Charming Book of Animal ABC’s! Written by myself and illustrated by artist Debbie Hicks, this little book is based on years of my experiences tutoring students in reading.

I believe this ABC reader will help children understand and improve important reading skills and concepts including phonics, alliteration, vocabulary, and pronunciation, while retaining their attention with adorable and colorful illustrations. A book to be read over and over again, the words are just challenging enough to keep students’ interest for years to come.

Recommended for ages 4-12 and grades P-5. Currently available only on Amazon’s Kindle for just $1.99 (but do stay tuned for a print version soon!). *Note: you do NOT need a Kindle to read this. See my page here for more details.

Buy it today for your little reader here, and be sure to leave feedback! I would love to hear from you!

Looking for literature resources for older students? Check out my other ebooks for them here.

Tips from a Teacher on Early Reading Skills

Check out this article from The Measured Mom, on how to teach early reading skills (pre-reading) to young ones.

5 Questions to Consider Before Hiring a Tutor

How long does tutoring take? This is a question I am often asked. When you are new to tutoring, it can seem a little risky paying upwards of $15/hr. for a tutor and not knowing the outcome in advance. Here are five questions you should ask yourself before making the investment:

1. Is the problem really academics?

If it is, the student will be struggling with concepts, study skills, or organization. If it isn’t academics, poor grades might be a reflection of poor time management skills, too many things on a student’s plate (not the same as poor time management), a work ethic issue, boredom, or frustrations in school or life that do not have to do with learning concepts.

All of these issues should be addressed, but a tutor can only really effect academics and study/organizational skills.

2. How much effort are you willing to give?

I only see most of my students once or twice a week for an hour each time. That means at the most, we study together for 8 hours a month. For tutoring to be really successful, the rest of that month’s study time should be spent by caregivers going over students’ homework, quizzing them, and just being involved in general. Check your student’s grades online, if your school district offers that option, or stay in contact with teachers to see how the student is doing in class.

Tutoring isn’t like Wheel of Fortune; You can’t buy a grade, you have to work for it.

3. How much time do you really have?

We give the most time to those things we prioritize most. Sports, music, arts, scouting, and other extracurricular activities are a lot of fun and can help a student become more well-rounded and fulfilled, however they remain what they are: Extra. There will always be time to explore other activities and interests, but learning to read and write and do math well are life-long skills that will serve your student throughout all their interests. I’ve had caregivers hire me, only to tell me at our first meeting to hurry up because, “soccer practice is in an hour”!

Kids and teens often have a ton of activities to balance… there is a difference between poor time management or lack of organization and feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, and shutting down because of too many activities. Unfortunately many activities meant for kids and teens are very time-intensive. Consider too that kids and teens need far more sleep than they are generally given, so factor this in as well. Good focus begins with a good night’s sleep!

Regardless of the situation, students need a little time after a tutoring session to review and consider what was studied. Since tutoring sessions are often brain-intense, taking a short break is advised, but if students jump too quickly into the next activity, they will likely not remember much of what was studied.

4. Is your student motivated?

It can be frustratingly difficult to impart to our children and teens the importance of an education. Unfortunately, parents and educators cannot motivate students. Only the student can motivate themselves. You know the adage, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink”? Well teaching is very much like that too. Despite popular thinking, teachers cannot motivate students to learn or study. Tutors cannot motivate students to learn or study. Parents cannot make a child want to learn, that is solely on the student, but parents can motivate students to study by taking away privileges. This is not a “punishment” although your student may feel it is. This is simply the consequences, the results, of certain actions namely falling grades.

Make a deal with your student. If they bring their grades up to a reasonable level (this will depend on your definition of reasonable, as well as your student’s abilities), they can earn _(insert privilege here)_ back. It might be video game time, a computer in their room, movie/TV night, events, activities, use of the car, etc. etc. Don’t bluff and don’t change the terms, but don’t back down either. If you have to, continue to remove privileges over time if students still refuse to bring up their grades.

Special note: Sometimes caregivers have a really, really hard time giving up a child’s extracurriculars, especially sports (this includes marching band), even temporarily. I know what a financial investment extracurriculars entail, as well as the time and energy commitment involved, and the desire to teach students about teamwork and keeping commitments. I understand how intense some coaches/band directors can be, and how hard students work (former band geek, Alto Sax, speaking). But let’s be real: The vast majority of students will not pursue their extracurricular of choice after highschool or college. That doesn’t mean these pursuits are not worthwhile, but that they should play second fiddle to academics.

Work first, play second.

 5. So how long should tutoring take?

Well, it depends. It depends on the above factors, it depends on how far behind in a subject your student is, it depends on how hard they work to improve, and how much time you allow them to dedicate to improving. Take for example, two equally hard-working students, both in the same grade, both tutored during the same period of time, both with very supportive and involved caregivers. Student “A” I met with once a week for one hour, and after two months she had improved so much that she didn’t need me anymore for the subject she had originally needed help with (we continued to meet every other week for tutoring on a separate subject). Student “B” I met with for one hour twice a week, and after two months she had shown vast improvement. But she still needs intense tutoring because she was originally so far behind.

Again, how long tutoring takes will all depend on a variety of factors, but generally I work with students for around two to six months at a rate of one to two hours a week.

Want to learn more?

Check out my About page or Pricing and Policies, or fill out the contact form below and I will get back with you ASAP!

Toys That Teach: A Few Resources for Younger Learners

Please note this post does contain affiliate links.

Many teaching and learning techniques or resources that I have previously discussed or linked to on my “Resources” page, tend to be for older students, but I wanted this post focus on younger learners. I am a firm believer in giving kids less TV time, more nature experiences, and more books and hands-on toys to play with. Below are three of my all-time favorite toy brands for younger learners that I have used extensively over the years. Please feel free to comment with your suggestions too!

Melissa & Doug

I love, love the wooden toys from Melissa & Doug. We have several puzzles by this company, and they are fantastic! They are great learning tools with bright, non-toxic colors and paint, and they are very durable. I originally bought their clock puzzle for my two year old, but used it to teach time and advanced shapes to my 7-year-olds, as well. Over 2,000 Unique and Exciting Toys for Children of All Ages! Click here!


I have always had a special place in my heart for Legos, and it has been a blast being able to build with not only my kids but others as well. If you want to bond with your kids, get a Lego set! Aside from building camaraderie, Legos are great tools for teaching spatial recognition, basic engineering concepts, and math skills. There are so many ways you can use Legos, and they are wonderful for visual learners. It is also hard to outgrow Legos. I used my son’s set the other week to help plan my next landscape project, and my uncle who is an engineer told me he and his team use Legos all the time!

FREE Shippin on any order of $75 or more any time!

Hooked on Phonics

It worked for me! All kidding aside, Hooked on Phonics is the top program for teaching reading. I bought a kit deeply on sale several years ago for K-1st Grade, and later got another kit for 2nd Grade. I have never found its equal for teaching reading and if you have a dyslexic student, this program is especially great for them since it incorporates visual, auditory, and sensory learning.

*Stay tuned for my short, award-winning ebook about the history of teaching reading in public schools and the role that phonics plays.

New Scheduling and Availability!

Attention parents! I am now able to see students after 3pm throughout the week. Spots are filling up fast, so please contact me soon.