AVKO Philosophy

On Teaching

Reading/writing upside down are excellent skills for tutors to have. This teaches empathy (teacher has to struggle to read basic words) and facilitates comfort of the student (not crowding/intimidating them), etc.
Words that are easier to spell should be taught first.
Using multisensory techniques helps facilitate the learning process, especially for students with learning disabilities.
Everyday, household items can make excellent teaching aids. Expensive curriculum and extensive training are not required to teach children how to read or spell.
Drill work, memorization, and large blocks of instruction/lecture should be avoided.
Learn more about how to teach using AVKO’s methods and philosophies.
AVKO vs. Traditional Tutoring Position (PDF)
ABCs of Tutoring (PDF)

On Learning

Studying and lessons should take place in short, frequent sessions.
Mistakes are opportunities to learn. In order to make learn from mistakes, you must make them (try).
Low self-esteem and fear of making mistakes are two big problems that usually need to be addressed before real learning can take place.
Copywork is fine (albeit boring) for teaching handwriting, but it is not effective for teaching spelling. However, we find that teaching handwriting through the backdoor of spelling (with word families) is much more useful and will make the students less resentful.
Immediate student self-correction is very important for learning and self-esteem.
Daily reading and writing are important for engaging in the language and becoming fluent.

On Spelling

Students should be able to spell almost all English words, even if they don’t what they mean.
The English language is not as « crazy » as people make it out to be. There are just many, many patterns (not « rules ») that are direct imports from foreign languages; these just happen to be seldom, if ever, systematically taught. Learn more about the phonic patterns that are seldom systematically taught.
The phonic patterns of large (multisyllabic) words are different from those of smaller (monosyllabic) words.

Basic Concept of Teaching Spelling by Word Family (PDF)

On Handwriting

Ball and stick handwriting exacerbates dyslexic reversals.
Handwriting can be taught through the backdoor of spelling; spelling can be taught through the backdoor of handwriting. See Let’s Write Right.
AVKO’s Rationale for Teaching Phonics as Manuscript and Cursive are Taught (PDF)
AVKO’s Rationale for Teaching Reading, Writing, Keyboarding, and Spelling as the Alphabet is Taught (PDF)

On Reading

Phonics AND whole language instruction should go hand-in-hand when teaching reading.
English cannot be read from left to right (like the Romance languages, Russian, etc.). Saying « just sound it out » to a student is therefore a very cruel (and unhelpful) thing to say as it implies left-to-right phonetics.
Reading comprehension is not (just) the ability to answer a multiple choice question about a paragraph just read.
The human brain automatically and spontaneously tries to make things make sense. It’s important to ensure that students can read the words based on the constituent phonic parts -not the picture (drawing) of the word. See Readings for Fluency.
It is a faulty assumption that, from grades 1-3, students learn to read and from grade 4 and up, students read to learn.

On Dyslexia

Dyslexia testing is only beneficial if you are in need of special services through the ADA, for insurance reasons, etc. Learn more about dyslexia.
Dyslexia-related learning problems are largely the result of poor teaching methods and inexperience with working with Orton-Gillingham-based teaching methods. Learn about AVKO’s methods.