Reading Tutors

Questions & Responses:
Early reading tutor needed(2 responses)
Writing and english tutor for middle schooler(1 response)
Archived Responses: 

Reading Tutor for Dyslexic child

Aug 2015

Hello, Contrary to what the teacher seems to think, I suspect my daughter (8) might be somewhere on the dyslexia spectrum, given many problems that seem to be common to kids with dyslexia. I was informed that the school won't screen for it, so I am taking matters in my hands. I would like to have her evaluated, and I am looking for recommendations for both professionals who can evaluate her and also for reading tutors. As I am trying to get more familiar with this new subject for me, I realize there are many different approaches and methods to help a child with dyslexia and I probably need professional help to figure out which would work best for my daughter. We are in the Castro Valley area, but I would consider traveling a reasonable distance for the right person. Any suggestions would be highly appreciated. Thank you. Jenny

Heather Sweeney is an educational therapist. She has worked with my son since 5th grade on reading, writing, study habits, and organizing homework. She has also been extremely helpful in explaining to him how his brain works, so that he has held on to his self esteem through middle school. There have been times when Heather came with me and my husband to an IEP meeting to help us advocate for my son. My son will enter 10th grade next fall, and asks to see Heather when he has a longer writing assignment. They meet at a cafe after school to work together. We live in Berkeley. I can't recommend her highly enough. Heather Sweeney hthrsweeney [at] Ruth E

Hi Jenny. Our youngest child has had dyslexia from an early age. When he was in the fourth grade we realized he had it so we started sending him to the Raskob Learning Institute in Montclair after his regular school day. He spent an hour there twice a week and was really helped, especially with his difficulty in reading. He stayed with their program through the eighth grade and did well enough to be on his own through high school. On the advice of a college choice specialist he attended Santa Barbara City College for two years then U C Santa Barbara for three more before graduating with a B.A. degree. Both of these colleges have really good tutoring programs for assisting students with learning disabilities and they were free when our son went there from 2003 to 2008. There are other colleges which have such programs and if your child wants to go to I am sure Rakob or other college selection specialists can help you with that information. Good luck.

If your child is struggling academically you can make a formal written request for an evaluation and the school has to evaluate your child. School districts often do not use the term dyslexia but they will diagnose what they call specific learning disabilities which include dyslexia. Once you have made your request the school district has 60 days to complete the evaluation. The clock stops over the summer, so if you made your request now the evaluation would not happen till fall.

Some children with dyslexia are able to perform at school within the average range, and so might not qualify for an IEP, but they are still well below where they could perform with help. If you feel your child falls in this category a private evaluation and private tutoring may be your best choice. The kind of evaluation you seek really depends on your resources and your concerns. A full neuropsychological examination which can cost $4000-7000 can tell you a lot about your child's cognitive and academic strengths and weaknesses, their mental health and diagnose ADHD.

Educational therapists are trained to evaluate reading challenges using both formal and informal tests and select programs for remediation and implement them. You are right that children struggle with reading for a variety of reasons and it is best to figure out exactly what is going on so that you can target the difficult areas. I work with children with reading challenges and would be happy to spend some time talking with you about your options for evaluations. Susan R

Reading tutor for 6 year old

March 2015

My son has been not progressing much with his reading. I know that he likes stories and loves books but he struggles with reading. He is in a private school and I don't think he is getting what he needs. I don't want to pressure him to read but I do want to see if there is someone who can help him. My son also seems to get frustrated and seems to forget the sounds or letters he is using---and then his frustration leads to a bad approach/attitude and a feeling that he can't do it. I want to find someone who can help teach him but also help give him/teach him tools for approaching learning so that he doesn't get frustrated but will embrace a challenge. I try to tell him that the important thing is to try hard. Sometimes we don't get it right but we learn and can do better the next time. And that's part of learning and part of the fun. He has also had problems learning math but we seem to be overcoming these a bit better.... I'm including this in the 'advice' to get thoughts on how to deal with this and also in 'recommendations' to see if I can get some names and numbers of people who can help. And my focus is not to pressure him but to help him feel empowered and teach him in a way that is effective for him. Thank you!!

Hi, I would highly recommend Ilyse Gordis for reading tutoring. She is really great at making kids feel good about themselves and at making reading fun.

Just a side note: our child struggled with reading for a few years, and after getting his vision checked a few times with an opthalmologist and being told he had 20/20 vision and was fine, we found out he had vision issues and needed vision therapy. After doing vision therapy for 6 months, he is back with Ilyse and on his way to reading. She groups words together so that we know which words to work on for the week.

Ilyse also has really fun book clubs where she creates a conversation about the stories in such a way that every child relates to the story on a deep, personal level. She is sure to help your child love literature. She can be reached at: Ilyse [at] and she is in Berkeley. Mother to 9 yr old in Oakland, CA

Reading Tutor Needed for Second Grader

Feb 2015

I am looking for a tutor that utilizes a variety of methods including Linda Mood-Bell. Ideally the tutor would be in Berkeley.

I highly recommend, Shari Leskowitz. She works with children in Berkeley and Oakland. I'm not sure about your request for a particular method but I know she is wonderful about listening to the concerns of parents and children and would be open to thinking with you about any particular approach you think might be helpful for your child. Shari can be reached at 510-872-2369 or shari.leskowitz [at] Kimberly

When my daughter was in second grade, we had the opportunity to work with an excellent reading tutor. Lise Narath has taught reading for many years-as a classroom teacher, reading coach, and as a private consultant. I met her when she was a reading coach at BUSD; so she knows how to navigate the public school system, which can be a real plus. Lise is well qualified to support students with dyslexia or those who learn differently. She is trained in both Orton-Gillingham (multisensory word work) and Lindamood Bell. But most importantly, both my daughter and I found her a delight to work with. She is extremely skilled in all aspects of learning to read, kind, patient, and fun. She really does love to teach reading! Lise Narath: (510-388-8803), website ( and email (lnreadingconnection [at] Lois

June 2014

I'd like to recommend Ilyse Gordis - an amazing reading/writing tutor. She has tutored 2 of my daughters, ages 6 and 10, with their reading. I was amazed with how much she was able to help them progress with their basic reading, reading comprehension and writing. She was great about recommending books they were interested in and they really enjoyed working with her. She also hosts book clubs for different age groups. ilyse [at] or 510.524.4318 Tammy

Reading tutor for high school student

May 2014

I am looking for a reading tutor with experience to help my daughter with certain areas of reading where she has weaknesses, including reading comprehension and some decoding and fluency. Most tutors I have spoken with tutor younger children or they are booked for the summer. Also, we are looking for someone preferably in Oakland or Alameda. We would consider someone in Berkeley but I do not want to drive more than 30 minutes since we live in Alameda. Does anyone have a suggestion?

I just posted a review for Heather Sweeney, But I have to say she would be perfect for you. She actually comes to you house, so you don't have to worry about the driving, and I know she has come to Alameda before. It IS hard to find someone appropriate for High Schoolers, and I have great respect for Heather's ability to reach these kids. Good luck!

here is my review: Heather Sweeney has been working with D for two years now, and she is fantastic. I called her when my hardworking daughter with ADHD hit a bump in AP US History in her Junior year of High School. At first she said she had no room, but after hearing our story she showed, not for the last time, her level of compassion by saying,'' I want to help her''. She comes to our house, charges very reasonable rates, and has helped D with study and note taking skills, writing, test prep and much more. She is funny, patient, smart and caring. D sees her as a friend and looks forward to their sessions. Also enjoyable are the ''tribal dinners'' when many of Heather's students have a pot luck together and have a chance to share stories. My daughter made it into her dream college and we owe much of this to Heather. Contact info: hthrsweeney [at] Robyn

Reading tutor for first grader

April 2014

My first grader is below grade level in both reading and math. Although she has yet to be tested, she might have some learning disabilities. She did learn to read while in Reading Recovery, but has not made much progress since leaving that one to one situation. We are weighing our options as to what to do outside the classroom. She gives us a lot of pushback when we try to help her at home so we are looking for some outside services. We could afford about $100 a week for either a tutor or a tutoring service like Kumon or Classroom Matters. Has anyone else gotten help for their young child? What has been the most helpful? Thanks. Concerned Mom

I would highly recommend that you contact Bonnie Mitchell, and see if one-on-one tutoring might be the answer. Bonnie is a retired (OUSD) teacher who inspired *many* little Crocker Highlands kids (1st & 2nd grade, primarily - at least, in the years we knew her) to love reading. She is patient, and LOVES kids! Give her a call, meet with her - your child may love her as much as mine did! 510.482-4716 Mom of some very happy kids who LOVE to read!!!!

Nov 2012

I highly recommend Nancy Welt as a reading specialist tutor. My dyslexic son started tutoring with her in the summer between 1st and 2nd grade and continued with her until sixth grade. With her help and hard work in both knowledge of reading programs and patience with my son he became a proficient reader and read at grade level by fifth grade. In fact in 8th grade scored Advanced in English on the Star test. He now reads on his own for pleasure. Something I could never have imagined was possible. Nancy really knows what she is doing and reaches the child on his/her level. I can't say enough about the help she provided me as well. Navigating the public school system with a child that is severely dyslexic can be extremely challenging. She was great with advice on what to ask for in my son's IEP. My son enjoyed working with her and she was persistent in her approach with him. Her knowledge and advice has been invaluable to me and my family and I can't recommend her enough. gf

May 2012

I would really like to recommend Clara Sneed as a wonderful tutor. She really helped our high school daughter with her writing, organization and Spanish. She has a great way of relating to the teens directly, and our daughter really matured under Clara's wing. She can be reached at Tutorclara [at] We cannot recommend her enough! Happy Family

Reading Tutors: 2008 - 2011 Reviews

Reading help for 1st grader

June 2011

My child is just finishing first grade. He is below grade level in reading and writing, had trouble holding a pencil, is starting to get that he is below other kids and it is starting to affect him in that way as well. His teachers have said that there is a gap between his verbal, math and social skills and his reading and writing skills. I would like to get him a tutor this summer or send him to some kind of program for extra help. I am looking at a few programs but don't know how good they are. Please if anyone has any experience with this please let me know (positive or negative). Thank you!!! Don't Know If I Should Be Concerned Mother

My daughter saw a private educational therapist in our home. His name is Bill Baldyga. We were thrilled with the progress our daughter made. In less than three months she jumped several grade levels in reading. All the experts say that the earlier you intervene, the easier it is to correct any issues that your child might have. You can contact Bill through his website at: MW

I would recommend calling Dr. Ann Gordon of Educational Services Associates on Grand Avenue. She has a real gift with children, and many years of experience. 873-0801 anon.

June 2011

Hello, my family has worked with a tutor named Rachael Berger for a year. She is an English teacher and also provides private in-home tutoring. She has been a ton of helping our kindergartener with reading; support with phonics and lots of word sorts. She is patient and kind and my daughter loves her! Her number is 510-418-6495. I know she works with kids of all ages. Madeleine

June 2011

I would like to recommend my 9 year old son's tutor. She works with him in reading and writing, phonics and comprehension sentence writing, punctuation, grammer, and penmanship. My son is reluctant to work with me but is so willing to work with her. She is patient and kind with him. She uses positive reinforcement. And is really encouraging to him when he is having a hard time. We have been working with her through the school year and are very excited about his progress. Her name is Lauren Bassard. lbassard [at] 510-921-4911

Tutor for 3rd grader reading below grade level

April 2011

I have a 3rd grader who is reading below grade level and is behind in writing skills. I am looking for an experienced Ed. Therapist / tutor ASAP who is patient, creative, and has excellent credentials and who is effective! I live in Berkeley and would like to find someone local. Susan

My third grade son has been working with a tutor here in Berkeley twice a week for the last year and half. He was working on writing and reading skills with Peggy Connell and has made tremendous progress. She has been extremely flexible, used her great sense of humor to keep him motivated and always used his interests as a vehicle to teach varing content. When starting with her, he was extremely reluctant to even write a paragraph, and has since then developed the skills to organize and carry-out short assignments independently. Part of his issue is his lack of organizational skills surrounding writing which were greatly helped through her use of graphic organizers and brainstorming. She always provided a warm and nurturing environment, which helped keep distractions to a minimum. She holds a masters degree in special education and educational therapy. You can contact her at (510) 644- 1010 or peggyjconnell [at] mom who has been there

Reading program for 4 year old

April 2011

I am looking for a Saturday reading program for my 4 year old. Does anyone know of one that is located in Oakland or Berkeley? Thanks.

My son attended the Cal State East Bay's fall 2010 reading program and loved it! He not only learned a great deal, but he had fun doing so and made some friends in the process. He learned how to read shortly after completing the reading program! The teacher is great at engaging the students and truly understands literacy development for 4 and 5 year olds. I highly recommend this program. I dont recall the exact name of the program, but it is also being offered during the summer. Good luck! Happy Mommy

Reading tutor for 2nd grader

Dec 24 2009

I would like to highly recommend Sharon Lawless for tutoring reading. Our daughter was struggling to learn the basics of reading after kindergarten and we hired Sharon to tutor her over the summer between kindergarten and first grade. Sharon was amazing with her! She was very encouraging and we credit her with teaching our daughter not only to read, but also to enjoy it and she is now thriving. Her reading words per minute have continued to climb and she is now one of the best readers in her 2nd grade class.

Sharon can be reached at slawless18 [at] or 510-336-1201.

Here is more information on Sharon: She works mainly with students who have reading challenges. She uses The Susan Barton Reading and Spelling System which is a research-based program that teaches students phonemic awareness in a sequential manner. She can help students with the writing process and elementary math. She has 30 years of teaching experience, Robin

Literacy tutor to get son to grade level

March 2009

Can anyone recommend a gentle, patient, intuitive literacy tutor? My son is having some trouble keeping up with his grade-level reading and seems to get frustrated easily. I'm really hoping to find somebody to work with him one on one (hourly maybe?), and I don't want to use any of those big ''tutoring companies''. Also, what type of fee should I expect to pay for such services? Thanks so much for any info-- regina

You could try Ariel Lenchner. Her office is near Broadway and Piedmont in Oakland. She worked with my son one on one, did a lot of fun games with him, and helped him quite a bit. He really liked her, and now reads extremely well. She's very patient with young children. I believe we spent about $65 an hour with her, a couple of years ago. Her website is Karen

You should call Lyra King at 510-706-3041. She helped my daughter immensely. Lyra is a talented and compassionate tutor. She charges $60/hour and it is well worth it. Best of luck! Kelly

Our family has been blessed to find Jamie Keller to work with our son. He needed a great deal of help with his literacy issues. She is patient, caring, intuitive and most importantly, my son loves working with her. check out her site at and you will see just how qualified she is (and creative too!) My son is doing great and we are now working with Jamie on study skills to prepare him for middle school. She has a great summer program that I highly recommend. You can email her directly at jamiekeller1 [at] michelle

I think Ivy Sandz / Literacy Access is just who and what you are looking for. I cannot say enough wonderful things about Ivy. My daughter has been seeing her for many years, doing individual sessions, group writers' workshops, homeschool support, art journaling, altered books. Ivy develops rapport easily with students, and is very versatile in using all kinds of techniques to help with reading and writing. She works well with kids of all ages and kinds of learning styles too.

I know someone who has worked with a student at Carl B. Munck for just about a year taking most of the summer off. The student is now caught up and thriving. The sessions were about 45 minutes each, reasonable price. Great bond between student and tutor which helped make the difference. Call Arlene Pimentel at 409-3829 or email arlenepim [at] Happy Reader

Speech,development,reading therapist

Feb 2009

Hello dear parents, Do you have any referrals for a speech therapist and a reading tutor who would work with a five year old pre-kindergarten boy in our home in El Cerrito? A student speech therapist or a developmental student teacher would be fine too. Thank you very much !

I highly recommed Bill Baldyga of Halcyon Learning as a reading specialist. My kid loves him, and now he reads! He comes to your house too. His website is and his phone number is on the site. Been There

Extra reading help for kindergartener

Feb 2008

As a mother of a kindergarten boy who is not yet reading - just why did the state change to this model 5 years ago? I'm wondering what kind of extra help is available through the schools for boys who don't pick it up by memorizing. We are in Oakland Unified School District. Independent recommendations of outside tutors also welcome, thanks. -concerned mom

I learned w/a bit of shock this fall that kindergarteners are supposed to learn to read. So now I'm looking for a tutor with experience with kindergarteners. nc

You might consider enrolling him in a summer program. My son attended one taught by a reading specialist named Ariel Lenchner last summer and it helped him quite a bit. You can find out about her on her website at And I'm sure there are other such programs out there. Karen