Tutoring Fundamentals

The Fundamentals of Tutoring

Once you have moved beyond the basics of getting to know the learner or learners and figuring out what his or her needs are, most tutors need tools--strategies and instructional ideas--for meeting those needs. In this section we will learn about how to pick texts to use in tutoring and then we’ll share strategies and suggestions to help tutors guide learners in the tutoring sessions.

Here’s what we cover:


Element Description Sample Strategies
Comprehension Comprehension is the “so what” of reading. Comprehension refers to the understanding that results from reading.  It is the ultimate goal of all reading.  Students may show that they understand what they read by explaining what they read to others or answering questions about it.  Using comprehension strategies such as predicting, checking to make sure you understand as you read, and summarizing after reading can also help make sure you understand.

Say Something



Talking Drawings

Word Work:

Sight Words & Vocabulary

Words form the elements of reading and learning from texts. The most common words are called Sight Words while words we encounter in subjects like math, science, social students and other subjects are Vocabulary Words.

  • Vocabulary refers to the meanings of words, not their spelling or pronunciation.  Vocabulary is important to a reader’s success because comprehension breaks down when readers encounter too many words they do not know.  Vocabulary words are new words that students must learn.  The key to learning new vocabulary is to provide strategies that go beyond simply teaching definitions.  Ideally, only a few vocabulary words should be taught at one time (perhaps 4 to 6 words from one text).  Avoid teaching lists of vocabulary words.
  • Sight words are the most common words that make up our spoken and written language. Fifty percent of all text is made up of the most common 100 sight words. These 100 words can be found on Fry’s list (see below). Because these 100 words are so common, it is very important to memorize these words as early as possible, typically around the first grade. Students should be able to read sight words within 3 seconds. Sight words are also words that may not follow phonics patterns (for example, of should be spelled uv and was should be spelled wuz).

Sight Word Flash Cards

Vocabulary Cards

Vocabulary Self-Awareness Chart

How Well Do I Know These Words

Fluency Fluency is the ability to read accurately, effortlessly, at the appropriate pace, and with expression. Because fluent readers do not have to concentrate on figuring out the words, they can focus their attention on what the text means. Fluency is important to comprehension.


Echo Reading

Choral Reading

Phonics & Decoding Phonics and decoding have to do with looking at the letters of a word, figuring out what sounds those letters make, and putting the sounds together to read the word. During phonics instruction we teach children the letter or letters that make each sound. Phonics instruction can also focus on patterns, such as the –ight pattern and all of the words that you can make from that pattern (flight, knight, light, might, night, plight, right, sight, and tight). Spelling is similar to phonics except that instead of reading, you are writing.

Word Sorts

Word Families