Learning to Love Reading


Reading is another subject that children struggle with. The Foundational Skills Assessment results for Nanaimo shows 23% of students in Grade 4 and 29% Grade 7 are not yet meeting expectations. The results are similar for the whole of Vancouver Island (

 childr eading


What makes reading so difficult? There are several factors such as phonemic awareness (letter sounds), exposure to reading/books, and /or a language based learning disability such as dyslexia. I believe that part of the problem is because children are not taught to love reading, rather that reading is something they "MUST" do and it can be take "HARD" work and be "BORING".

fav book 

Being a teacher, I thought my children should have come out of my womb knowing how to read! When my son's grade three teacher called me in to suggest that there were comprehension issues with my son and that perhaps we might need to consider that there was something "wrong", I had to admit that it was simply because he wasn't reading. How could he understand the questions asked when he wasn't reading the material. I emphasized to the teacher that I had done everything on "the" reading checklist to ensure he would be an early reader and a veracious reader. However, my son taught me something that wasn't on "the" checklist: I didn't see what he wanted to read as the right readable materials. When my son and I sat down to talk about this non-reading issue and how it was starting to affect his schooling, he was able to suggest to me that graphic novels were where it was at for him. They engaged him. And guess what? He started coming to the library with me enthusiastically and whizzing through comprehension questions at school! 


Some ideas for helping your child to love to learn reading: 

First, explain why reading is important, fun, and rewarding. Good reading skills help you find interesting information and be very entertaining. It can enrich your life and help you learn about different people, places, cultures, or how to build a rocket ship!




Second, model reading. Spend some time every day reading to your child and helping them sound out words and letters (phonemic awareness). Have plenty of reading materials around: books, magazines, newspapers. Have them in print or electronic form. Libraries are great places to get books and the Vancouver Island Regional Library has a subscription to Zinio, one of the largest online magazine retailers. You can download and read a very large variety of magazines for free!

list of boks


Games also make it fun to learn reading. The types of games you play can be tailored to the age of your child, and the complexity of the words. Try:

Word walls: write words on index cards (or print them on business card paper). If you  use two sets you can put some words up on the wall, and the other use a deck. Get your child to match words from the deck to the wall.

Eye spy: words that rhyme, start with  (ch – chocolate), or ends with (-ing eating). This will help children become familiar with the whole word, rather than just the beginning or the end.

Word hunt: take the index cards and place them face down. Have the child hunt for a specific word or words.

Word twister: use green painters tape to put letters on your floor, or chalk the outside area, make a twister wheel with cardboard and a t-pin. Have your child(ren) spell words with their bodies.

Word hopscotch: same idea as above, only have them spell out different words and sound out the letters as they hop.

There are also a number of online games. A quick Google search will help you find the ones that work for you. 

If your child has dyslexia or other learning problem, it may be best if you work with a professional to help your child develop to their fullest.

Tutoring...With A Twist tutors not only support learners in every subject area; we also support them with a predetermined life-skill. By helping learners develop the tools they need to succeed in the classroom, we also help them develop the tools to succeed in life.





We are focussing on the Love of Learning this month...up next is READING! 

I found so many images that capture why I love to read and am excited to share them with you!


 I always want more and more books which is why you will see a stack beside my bed & beside my desk!



I love that I can choose to read about anything at all!  


 This happens for me: I fall right into the book!


And on days where I need an escape and a warm hug, a book is always there to give me one! 







Taken from:




BALTIMORE — EACH time I hear someone say, “Do the math,” I grit my teeth. Invariably a reference to something mundane like addition or multiplication, the phrase reinforces how little awareness there is about the breadth and scope of the subject, how so many people identify mathematics with just one element: arithmetic. Imagine, if you will, using, “Do the lit” as an exhortation to spell correctly.

Adam Maida

As a mathematician, I can attest that my field is really about ideas above anything else. Ideas that inform our existence, that permeate our universe and beyond, that can surprise and enthrall. Perhaps the most intriguing of these is the way infinity is harnessed to deal with the finite, in everything from fractals to calculus. Just reflect on the infinite range of decimal numbers — a wonder product offered by mathematics to satisfy any measurement need, down to an arbitrary number of digits.

Despite what most people suppose, many profound mathematical ideas don’t require advanced skills to appreciate. One can develop a fairly good understanding of the power and elegance of calculus, say, without actually being able to use it to solve scientific or engineering problems.



Think of it this way: you can appreciate art without acquiring the ability to paint, or enjoy a symphony without being able to read music. Math also deserves to be enjoyed for its own sake, without being constantly subjected to the question, “When will I use this?”

Sadly, few avenues exist in our society to expose us to mathematical beauty. In schools, as I’ve heard several teachers lament, the opportunity to immerse students in interesting mathematical ideas is usually jettisoned to make more time for testing and arithmetic drills. The subject rarely appears in the news media or the cultural arena. Often, when math shows up in a novel or a movie, I am reminded of Chekhov’s proverbial gun: make sure the mathematician goes crazy if you put one in. Hanging thickly over everything is the gloom of math anxiety.

And yet, I keep encountering people who want to learn more about mathematics. Not only those who enjoyed it in school and have had no opportunity to pursue it once they began their careers, but also many who performed poorly in school and view it as a lingering challenge. As the Stanford mathematician Keith Devlin argues in his book “The Math Gene,” human beings are wired for mathematics. At some level, perhaps we all crave it.

So what math ideas can be appreciated without calculation or formulas? One candidate that I’ve found intrigues people is the origin of numbers. Think of it as a magic trick: harnessing emptiness to create the number zero, then demonstrating how from any whole number, one can create its successor. One from zero, two from one, three from two — a chain reaction of numbers erupting into existence. I still remember when I first experienced this Big Bang of numbers. The walls of my Bombay classroom seemed to blow away, as nascent cardinals streaked through space. Creatio ex nihilo, as compelling as any offered by physics or religion.

For a more contemplative example, gaze at a sequence of regular polygons: a hexagon, an octagon, a decagon and so on. I can almost imagine a yoga instructor asking a class to meditate on what would happen if the number of sides kept increasing indefinitely. Eventually, the sides shrink so much that the kinks start flattening out and the perimeter begins to appear curved. And then you see it: what will emerge is a circle, while at the same time the polygon can never actually become one. The realization is exhilarating — it lights up pleasure centers in your brain. This underlying concept of a limit is one upon which all of calculus is built.

The more deeply you engage with such ideas, the more rewarding the experience is. For instance, enjoying the eye candy of fractal images — those black, amoebalike splotchessurrounded by bands of psychedelic colors — hardly qualifies as making a math connection. But suppose you knew that such an image (for example, the Julia Set) depicts a mathematical rule that plucks every point from its spot in the plane and moves it to another location. Imagine this rule applied over and over again, so that every point hops from location to location. Then the “amoeba” comprises those well-behaved points that remain hopping around within this black region, while the colored points are more adventurous and all lope off toward infinity. Not only does the picture acquire more richness and meaning with this knowledge, it suddenly churns with drama, with activity.

Would you be intrigued enough to find out more — for instance, what the different shades of color signified? Would the Big Bang example make you wonder where negative numbers came from, or fractions or irrationals? Could the thrill of recognizing the circle as a limit of polygons lure you into visualizing the sphere as a stack of its circular cross sections, as Archimedes did over 2,000 years ago to calculate its volume?

If the answer is yes, then math appreciation may provide more than just casual enjoyment: it could also help change negative attitudes toward the subject that are passed on from generation to generation. Students have a better chance of succeeding in a subject perceived as playful and stimulating, rather than one with a disastrous P.R. image.

Fortunately, today’s online world, with its advances in video and animation, offers several underused opportunities for the informal dissemination of mathematical ideas. Perhaps the most essential message to get across is that with math you can reach not just for the sky or the stars or the edges of the universe, but for timeless constellations of ideas that lie beyond.

Manil Suri is a mathematics professor at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and the author, most recently, of the novel “The City of Devi.”





Math "Miss Takes" ...

How I see it is like this...  When a baby is learning to walk, we applaud their "miss takes". We encourage them to try again. We clap when they fall. We praise their ability to use aids that assist them. We give them tools to help them. We pick them up when they fail. It's like we are shooting a movie and the final take is when the child is walking. If we didn’t learn to walk until adult hood, how many adults would still be crawling? 


Why not help our kids think this with math?! Let's look at math as something that needs to be continuously learned; therefore, it's not over until the end of the school year, the end of elementary school, and/or the end of high school.  Let's applaud "miss takes" because it means the person is trying. Let's encourage them to try again. Let's clap when they get something wrong because then we can understand what they aren’t getting. Let’s give them learning tools to help them be successful. Let’s pick them up when they fail. 

Learning From Mistakes

It breaks our heart at Tutoring...With A Twist when we have a learner sitting in front of us that is there because of a “bad” mark and is subsequently being defining by that “bad” mark and seen as a failure. We ask for a vision of what the learner, their parents and their school would like to see at the end of their time working with us. This vision then becomes the end movie we are making. Along the way, we are going to have several takes to get there. During those takes, we give the learner encouragement, praise, applause, tools and the ability to pick themselves up when they fail again! 



I challenge you to go out and make a miss take today; as well as to make this contract with yourself!






(Taken from:


A few weeks ago, I went into Chase’s class for tutoring.

I’d emailed Chase’s teacher one evening and said, “Chase keeps telling me that this stuff you’re sending home is math – but I’m not sure I believe him. Help, please.” She emailed right back and said, “No problem! I can tutor Chase after school anytime.” And I said, “No, not him. Me. He gets it. Help me.” And that’s how I ended up standing at a chalkboard in an empty fifth grade classroom staring at rows of shapes that Chase’s teacher kept referring to as “numbers.”

I stood a little shakily at the chalkboard while Chase’s teacher sat behind me, perched on her desk, using a soothing voice to try to help me understand the “new way we teach long division.”  Luckily for me, I didn’t have to unlearn much because I never really understood the “old way we taught long division.” It took me a solid hour to complete one problem, but l could tell that Chase’s teacher liked me anyway. She used to work with NASA, so obviously we have a whole lot in common.

Afterwards, we sat for a few minutes and talked about teaching children and what a sacred trust and responsibility it is. We agreed that subjects like math and reading are the least important things that are learned in a classroom. We talked about shaping little hearts to become contributors to a larger  community – and we discussed our mutual dream that those communities might be made up of individuals who are Kind and Brave above all.

And then she told me this.

Every Friday afternoon Chase’s teacher asks her students to take out a piece of paper and write down the names of four children with whom they’d like to sit the following week. The children know that these requests may or may not be honored. She also asks the students to nominate one student whom they believe has been an exceptional classroom citizen that week. All ballots are privately submitted to her.

And every single Friday afternoon, after the students go home, Chase’s teacher takes out those slips of paper, places them in front of her and studies them. She looks for patterns.

Who is not getting requested by anyone else?

Who doesn’t even know who to request?

Who never gets noticed enough to be nominated?

Who had a million friends last week and none this week?

You see, Chase’s teacher is not looking for a new seating chart or “exceptional citizens.” Chase’s teacher is looking for lonely children. She’s looking for children who are struggling to connect with other children. She’s identifying the little ones who are falling through the cracks of the class’s social life. She is discovering whose gifts are going unnoticed by their peers. And she’s pinning down- right away- who’s being bullied and who is doing the bullying.

As a teacher, parent, and lover of all children – I think that this is the most brilliant Love Ninja strategy I have ever encountered. It’s like taking an X-ray of a classroom to see beneath the surface of things and into the hearts of students. It is like mining for gold – the gold being those little ones who need a little help – who need adults to step in and TEACH them how to make friends, how to ask others to play, how to join a group, or how to share their gifts with others. And it’s a bully deterrent because every teacher knows that bullying usually happens outside of her eyeshot –  and that often kids being bullied are too intimidated to share. But as she said – the truth comes out on those safe, private, little sheets of paper.

As Chase’s teacher explained this simple, ingenious idea – I stared at her with my mouth hanging open. “How long have you been using this system?” I said.

Ever since Columbine, she said.  Every single Friday afternoon since Columbine.

Good Lord.

This brilliant woman watched Columbine knowing that ALL VIOLENCE BEGINS WITH DISCONNECTION. All outward violence begins as inner loneliness. She watched that tragedy KNOWING that children who aren’t being noticed will eventually resort to being noticed by any means necessary.

And so she decided to start fighting violence early and often, and with the world within her reach. What Chase’s teacher is doing when she sits in her empty classroom studying those lists written with shaky 11 year old hands  - is SAVING LIVES. I am convinced of it. She is saving lives.

And what this mathematician has learned while using this system is something she really already knew: that everything – even love, even belonging – has a pattern to it. And she finds those patterns through those lists – she breaks the codes of disconnection. And then she gets lonely kids the help they need. It’s math to her. It’s MATH.

All is love- even math.  Amazing.

Chase’s teacher retires this year –  after decades of saving lives. What a way to spend a life: looking for patterns of love and loneliness. Stepping in, every single day-  and altering the trajectory of our world.

TEACH ON, WARRIORS. You are the first responders, the front line, the disconnection detectives, and the best and ONLY hope we’ve got for a better world. What you do in those classrooms when no one  is watching-  it’s our best hope.

Teachers- you’ve got a million parents behind you whispering together: “We don’t care about the damn standardized tests. We only care that you teach our children to be Brave and Kind. And we thank you. We thank you for saving lives.”

Love – All of Us


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