Category Archives: Tutoring Homeless Students
As the number of homeless youth in this country continues to increase, it is imperative we do our part to make sure they receive services that address their basic needs. In addition to food, clothing, and shelter, all children have the right to a free and decent public education.
The McKinney-Vento Act guarantees homeless children specific education rights. These rights are intended to make it easier for homeless students to access free educational services through the nearest public school system. The Act states they have the right to:
* Stay in the same school regardless of where they live
* Transportation to get to school
* Enroll in school without required records
* Appeal school or district decisions that affect them
By eliminating as many barriers as possible, it should be relatively simple for homeless students to attend school and participate in activities. Of course, that is only true in theory.
In Addition to Rights
Having the right to do something does not mean it is actually possible to do. For this reason, McKinney-Vento provides additional resources to schools so they can help homeless students take advantage of their educational rights. Each school with homeless students enrolled is required to have a liaison that works to identify community resources to help them. One such resource is qualified tutoring services with a track record of successfully improving educational outcomes of homeless students.
Accessing Educational Resources
Matching homeless students to the right tutor is critical. The tutor needs to be compassionate and understanding. It is not uncommon for homeless students to have poor social skills and act out negatively to express their anger and fear over their situation. For many students, their tutor provides a sense of security that is much needed. Because of the risks inherent in their living situation, homeless students are frequently victims of violence and develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) which can make individual tutoring challenging. Students may feel safer in a small group setting.
Tutoring homeless students requires more than academic knowledge. Tutors need to know how to interact with students who move frequently or possibly live in an abandoned building. Student priorities generally will not be the same as tutor priorities. However, with consistent encouragement, tutors can make a positive difference in the lives of homeless students.
More than one million students are now enrolled in public schools across the country. The most recent data from the 2010-2011 school year shows that number represents a 13% increase over the past year. That is a statistically significant change in only 12 months. Perhaps more importantly, it is the highest it has ever been. Of course, this does not take into account the number of homeless children who are not attending school.
Nearly 90% of all states reported increases with 15 experiencing at least a 20% increase. Unfortunately, there were five states that experienced 35% to 47% increases in the number of homeless students. A report from the U.S. Department of Education indicates that overall, homeless students enrolled in school increased by nearly 60% since the economic recession of 2008. Of course, this varies greatly from one school district to another and from state to state. Michigan is one of the hardest hit states, with a 315% increase in homeless students from 2008 to 2011.
Children who are homeless face various educational obstacles. As a result, they tend to lack basic skills and be several grade levels behind peers. Absenteeism rates are high for these students because they are often dealing with illnesses and moving around from one shelter or location to another. Access to resources such as computers is severely limited. Without proper educational intervention, homeless children are likely to be homelessness as adults, turn to prostitution to earn money for food, or become pregnant at an early age.
How McKinney-Vento Helps
Because of this federal law, schools are required to designate a staff person to be the homeless student liaison. The liaison is responsible for making assessments and referrals to help homeless children stay in school. Tutoring is an important service the law provides for to help homeless students bridge gaps in their education. Schools refer students to appropriate services and pay for tutoring sessions.
Tutoring for Homeless Students
Tutors can meet with students at homeless shelters when a designated room is available. Public libraries and community centers also provide ideal tutoring locations. A tutoring service that specifically works with homeless students can help bring them up to the same academic level as their peers.
It is expected the number of homeless children will continue to grow. Tutoring can provide a safety net for students who are homeless but want a better future. Talk to your school liaison today if you need help achieving your academic goals.
Reading is one of the basic skills that all students need to master, preferably in elementary school. Unfortunately, many students are not afforded that opportunity. Students in foster care, those who are homeless and disadvantaged teens often do not meet standards for reading and comprehension. These skill deficiencies often result in teens dropping out of school, experiencing homelessness, or ending up in prison. Job opportunities are scare and your ability to make a decent living is limited.
Out-of-school youth who want to read better can now get help. The Workforce Investment Act provides funding that allows youth to receive remedial tutoring in reading. Expert reading tutors can help youth read more proficiently and even prepare the GED exam. In addition to working one-on-one with a private tutor, out-of-school youth can take the following steps to improve reading skills:
#1 Vary Reading Materials – It is important to find material that is interesting. Materials that are similar or too difficult will frustrate or bore you. Reading should be educational and fun, so add crossword puzzles or hobby magazines to your reading list.
#2 Visit the Library – The library offers access to many books and other reading materials without burning a hole in your wallet. You can find books on any subject that interests you. Most libraries participate in inter-lending programs so if your library does not have what you want, ask them to borrow it from a partner library.
#3 Break It Down – Learning to read can be an intimidating process at any age. Break reading passages into smaller, easier chunks that are easier to handle. Read out loud so that you can hear each sound you make when sounding out words. Use a dictionary to look up words you don’t understand.
#4 Choose Relevant Hobby – Reading doesn’t only come from books. Free time activities such as origami or building a car model require reading simple instruction manuals. You not only will find reading helpful but also rewarding when you complete these activities successfully.
#5 Make Time for Reading – Reading fluently takes practice – lots of practice. Set a time for reading an hour every day, even if it is simply reading the daily newspaper. You can spend time online reading your favorite blogs or news site. Whatever avenue you choose, commit to it so your reading skills improve faster.
#6 Be Realistic – Depending on your reading level, it may take quite a bit of time for you to see noticeable improvements in your reading ability and comprehension skills. There is no overnight miracle that will have you reading like an Oxford English professor. It is likely you will mispronounce common words or struggle over funny-looking words. And, that’s okay. Every student has been there at some point!
#7 Test Your Comprehension – You are learning to read now, but eventually you will be reading to learn. Check that you understand what you read by asking yourself questions before, during and after a reading session. Comprehension of a text gives meaning to its words and drives home the importance of reading.
A private tutor can determine your reading level and develop a plan to help you improve your reading skills in a specific period of time. Contact us to begin your reading-improvement journey today!