Connie W.

Connie W.


Los Angeles, CA 90064

Will travel 5 miles

$80 per hour.

4.94 16 ratings

UCLA Special Educator Teaches Strategies for Self-Tutoring

After 25+ years of educational therapy practice, with a Master of Arts in Special Education and a Ph.D. in psychotherapy (MFCC), I design a unique plan to accommodate the strengths of a student. My teaching model integrates visual, auditory and tactile strategies to enhance academic skills in both language arts and math. The Orton-Gillingham approach for reading along with current evidenced-based programs are chosen to match the pattern of weakness and strengths presented from prior testing r... [more]


To enhance vocabulary skills, I start about a year below grade level to fill in any gaps in word comprehension prior to starting at a students' grade level. I also check the parts of speech to determine if they know how to use words in sentences. A visual drawing is given with each word (part of speech)and a short definition for easier recall. Making an association with a closely related word is essential for recall (e.g., 'respond' is related to 'responsible' and 'responsibilities'). I use the vocabulary from the glossary of a student's science, math and social studies book so we are working on the same words needed for school tasks. I teach strategies to make an association and to break words into syllables as we work to remediate and enhance vocabulary for reading, spelling, and phonics. Then we go up one grade higher to make sure the strategies can be applied to unknown words as an ongoing internalized skill.


My background in teaching English, phonics, vocabulary, and grammar strategies to 1st-8th graders in public and private schools for more than 20 years has led me to provide a comprehensive approach to tutoring grammar. I have also taught teachers and other adults in grammar skills when studying for the CBEST and SAT. English grammar is taught in accord with CA standards in Language Arts by grade level. Students learn the parts of speech and how words function in sentences and paragraphs. Subjects, objects and predicates are introduced in phrases, sentences and dependent and independent clauses. Exercises are given for concrete over-learning, prior to advancing to the next level. Compound and complex sentences focus on discovering a variety of ways to begin and end sentences. This approach to successful grammar achievement includes a review of punctuation, and syllabication rules. The underlying grammar rules enhance spelling, vocabulary, and written skills in the upper grades.


A review of all phonics sounds along with sight vocabulary is tested before tutoring begins regardless of age or reading difficulty. I use the Orton-Gillingham method of re-teaching each single consonant and vowel, then move to blending vowels and consonants before starting the vowel-consonant combinations. A three-prong approach requires the auditory-visual and tactile strategies be combined with each aspect of reading. I follow the CA. Standards, suggestions from an IEP and my own list to verify that a student is able to recall and apply skills and new knowledge to unknown words, spelling and phonics, before moving onto syllables for decoding and encoding. This method works for children, teens and adults. Of course, I follow the students learning style as noted from prior assessments from psychologists.


My focus in English is based on the CA Core Standards for each grade level. I review these standards in reading, writing, listening and speaking to remediate any gaps in education, while working on current grade level skills. Reading fluency refers to word analysis, syllabication, phrase and paragraph reasoning skills. Written fluency includes sentence structure, parts of speech, grammar, punctuation, and knowledge of the four basic kinds of paragraphs. The five-paragraph essays, poetry and literature are addressed. Listening, speaking and summarization strategies round out integrated parts of the whole area of Language Arts in the elementary grades. In middle and high school, the class called English, continues on at higher conceptual levels, such as using abstract ideas in all aspects of literature. Idioms, metaphors, and similes in fiction and non-fiction books are taught along with plot, setting, author's tone, characterization, and critical reading. Older students receive a short definition of all the higher level literary terms needed from 7th to 12th grade. At the same time, I follow the school's lead in using the weekly vocabulary words from literature, social studies, science and math glossary pages. English skills are enhanced by strengthening areas of concern, according to an individual's academic needs.


I took all the Psychology courses required for the Doctoral level in CA. I also passed all the exams to receive my Licenced Marriage & Family Counseling (LMFC). The required 3000 hours commitment to receive the psychology license was obtained at a professional psychology clinic in Culver City and at Cedars Sinai at a Post-Doctoral level. As an Educational Therapist with a psychology background, both academic and counseling are accommodated during every session. My background includes 25 years of experience as a professional tutor.

Elementary (K-6th)

As an educational therapist, I have 25+ years of experience working with K-6th graders in language arts, math, social studies and science. In language arts, the following subtopics are included: phonemic awareness, phonics, sight words, reading, reading comprehension, spelling rules, grammar and writing tasks. Techniques for gleaning the salient information from chapters in Science and Social Studies textbooks are provided. I use the Orton-Gillingham approach, when needed, along with the SRA paragraph readers and other evidence-based core programs for application to classroom requirements. I present a step-by-step approach for students who benefit from learning at their own pace. In math, a variety of manipulative devices, such as, touch math and mnemonic approaches are employed. Math strategies are presented in the four basic functions of arithmetic, fractions, and decimals. In addition, the ability to change primary math facts to higher math skills introduced in 5th and 6th grade are accommodated. Visual, auditory, and tactile strategies are integrated in language arts and math to enhance information processing and memory training skills for later recall on quizzes and tests. Each student is encouraged to become an active participant in his/her learning at the appropriate age and grade level. My undergraduate training was in special education and regular classroom settings at UES (UCLA). My graduate training was in educational therapy combined with psychology, teaching multi-sensory approaches to K-6th grade in each subject. My Ph.D. is in Marriage, Family, and Child Therapy, which combines education and psychology to provide self confidence, as each student progresses to his or her highest potential.


I have 20 + years of experience teaching phonics. Today, the term phonics, includes more than just learning sounds. There are many phonic levels, such as, alphabet knowledge, sound-symbol association, word concepts and meanings, rhyming, whole to part patterns, print and word recognition, and developmental steps. Each of these areas are usually accomplished between the ages of 3 and 8 years. Some students may have gaps in their learning that need to be addressed. Others do not learn best by using only a phonics approach, instead they may need to learn using sight words or a visual means only prior to integrating it with an oral connection. Tactile and kinesthetic activities may be needed for enhancement of skills. An educational therapist has knowledge in these areas, as well as, understanding a variety of strategies to overcome any academic limitations. Practice of phonic skills includes computer work, written, oral and visual tasks. The student can learn to describe events that lead to category recognition, and sequences for organization to integrate phonics for successful reading, spelling and writing.

Study Skills

As an educational therapist, I combine listening, written, and visual-verbal techniques to bring about successful study skills. My background in Special Education (Master's Degree) provides me with a wealth of strategies to accommodate different learning styles for elementary, secondary and adult students. Elementary students are often eager to learn new steps in a process. Secondary students may need a wide variety of strategies to chose among before setting goals. Adults may have had success with their own learning style. My tactics are to match each student with the visual, auditory and tactile lessons that increase their ability to think and plan for themselves. Study skills include sequential steps in time management, test taking and note-taking aspects. Specifically, how to set and streamline the steps to accomplish those goals, includes memorization, visual imagery, mneumonics, flashcards, rehearsal and summarizing techniques to achieve success. I offer follow-up lessons and some computer methods to accent self-study skills for adults. As a seasoned professional teacher, I combine techniques to bring about successful study skills for students with special needs, as well as gifted students of all ages.

Special Needs

My specialty is educational therapy. An educational therapist has specialized training to ascertain reaching academic goals. I work with K-8th graders in reading, phonics, spelling, grammar and math. Specifically, I use visual, auditory and tactile strategies throughout the process of learning. Early readers or non-readers, are my preferred area of expertise. I also teach math strategies to students who may not enjoy math. I consider my work to be an opportunity to teach a child how to become his/her own tutor. I cultivate strengths to bring up any weaker areas in academics. The interactive experience between a child and an educational therapist focuses on accomplishing their needs and goals. Students with any academic difficulties are rewarded with a sense of mastery. I am a Board Certified Educational Therapist with the national organization, the Association of Educational Therapists (AET). I have 25 years experience in working with children who benefit from special education strategies to enhance their education. I have worked with Learning Disabilities, Asperger's Syndrome, ADD and ADHD. I have a Masters in Special Education and a Ph.D. in Marriage, Family and Child Counseling.


ADD/ADHD is one of my specialties as an Educational Therapist. During my 25+ years of working with students ages 5 to adults, students with Learning Disabilities also had a mild, moderate or severe degree of ADD or ADHD. My knowledge from psychology as a MFCC, having completed my doctorate in ADD/ADHD, helps me to contain some of their concerns. I suggest self-designed quiet movements, and other accommodations for them to become their own advocate in a classroom. I also work with parents separately when requested. My focus is on academics, which helps to encourage them to use me as a role model and transfer these new techniques to the school setting.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

I have 10 years experience working with children who are at the higher end of the Autism Spectrum, that is, they need to have speech and language ability, sometimes called "Aspergers Syndrome". I was trained at Cedars-Sinai as a part of my post-doctoral fellowship for my license as a M.F.C.C., which was completed in 1998. Most students I worked with had an I.E.P., an O.T, or Speech Pathologist, and psychologist, so we worked as a team. My part, as the educator, was to design a plan for academic success, given the input from the professionals. The parents were included in every aspect of the plan when appropriate. When that was not conducive to the student's progress, the parent's were able to watch through a mirror and ask questions later. My M.A. is in Special Education from UCLA. My Ph.D. is in Family and Child Therapy at California Graduate School in Westwood.


The CBEST is an overview of knowledge gleaned from high school. Many teachers decide to take it after years of little test taking practice. I teach an overview and the specific subtests to review and enhance a student's knowledge. We all need to practice, as some academic areas need work. I took the CBEST recently and passed just to keep up with my skills. I use the CBEST handbook and workbook which allows a student to write and take tests between sessions to have more practice. It is comprehensive, but not difficult when strategies are given for each section. As an Educational Therapist and teacher with a Master's in Education and Ph.D. in psychology, I bring an expertise to this test that benefits adults.


As an Educational Therapist with 25+ years experience working with students individually, I bring an extra amount of knowledge to the task of test taking for the COOP/HSPT. Recently some of my students passed very successfully with tutoring and by completing extra assignments between sessions. I use the COOP/HSPT workbook to ascertain weak areas and strengths. I teach strategies for each section and complete at least three practice tests. An increase in self-esteem is noted when a student has a sense of accomplishment after finishing a structured plan for this test.


I am an Educational Therapist with 25+ years of working with students, ages 4 to 18, who may have been diagnosed with dyslexia or a Learning Disability. This is my area of expertise. I believe that the teacher needs to find the best way a student learns. I give parents and students self-administered quizzes to determine their preferred learning method. This quiz is based on Howard Gardner's work at Harvard University that delineates 8 different learning styles. A treatment plan is designed to meet individual needs based on the pattern of weaknesses and strengths, along with the I.E.P. or other prior professional testing results. I use multi-sensory techniques (visual, auditory, tactile and sometimes gross motor) to train a student to recognize and apply the best way he or she learns to academics. I use the Orton-Gillingham Program as the basic approach, along with enhancements by special educators who followed his highly structured program. A student is sequentially taken through a process of steps at each interval of learning sight words, phonetics, and phonic rules to mastery. These strategies are applied to the school setting and homework skills. I work with public, private and religious schools. Dyslexia is not always the best term for understanding what needs to be done. Sometimes the underlying difficulties are found in visual or auditory perceptual areas, which includes short-term and working memory skills. Parents will learn what accommodations a student may require in his or her classwork and homework assignments. The important task is to move a student from a passive to an active learner for continued success.


I have been teaching strategies for the lower, middle and upper levels of the ISEE for over 20 years. First, we determine a student's best learning style, using a checklist from Harvard University by Howard Gardner, Ph.D. Then an individual plan is designed to match a student's strengths. The most up-to-date study guide is used for the initial test to determine areas of strengths and weakness to meet the needs of a student. Finally, I ask the parents to bring an up-to-date report card or prior testing to verify any areas of academic need. I teach strategies for the studying and test-taking process. Visual, auditory, and tactile means are integrated for successful lessons. I may have a student work outside of the tutoring hours using his or her strengths. The areas of weakness are accommodated within our sessions to remediate vocabulary, math, reading comprehension or written subject. I concentrate on enjoying the process of test taking. I involve the parents to keep up with our weekly sessions. As an educational therapist (board certified) and a psychotherapist (LMFT), the two arenas of academics and self-confidence are well covered. My agenda is to lead a student to meet his or her highest potential by becoming an active learner. Many of these strategies can be applied to classroom and homework skills.


I have worked with many students taking the SSAT over the 25+ years I have been tutoring. I am an Educational Therapist with a Master's Degree in Education from UCLA. I teach strategies for each part of the SSAT, with emphasis on the math quantitative portion requiring reasoning skills. This is not the math found in classroom or homework. The written section is often an important adjunct. I use the SSAT workbook for the Lower and Upper Forms of this test and ask for follow-up work between sessions. The written section is an important adjunct to the test results among schools. A series of practice tests allows a student to master the sections of math, reading, vocabulary and writing. With these tools, students use their strengths to build up any weaker areas in their knowledge. I am highly structured yet flexible in my approach, as I teach through a multi-modal method of visual, auditory and tactile resources.


As an Educational Therapist in Special Education, I am trained to attach the correct group of vowel and consonant blends to learn to spell correctly. Spelling requires the ability to encode or match the exact sound to the alphabetic letters called sound-to-symbol association in proper sequence using phonics and sight words. The strategies consist of learning a process to practice and retain the memory of the 44 different groups of sounds in the English alphabet. This process of combining the auditory sound with the visual letters includes teaching the rules of language (about 60% of which are predictable). Spelling strategies are taught specifically to match a student's individual needs by using a combination of visual, auditory or tactile means. For example, a student learns to say a consonant or vowel blend at the same time that he/she is writing a spelling word. I also review prior knowledge of spelling to fill in any gaps in language. These strategies enhance short-term memory to build a foundation for later recall in long-term memory of spelling. These strategies work well for students needing remediation or enhancement of spelling skills.


I was taught at UCLA by Byrant Cratty, a professor who designed the "Scribbling to Printing" program, using visual and tactile tracing patterns, which is the precursor for today's "Handwriting Without Tears" program. At the Frostig Center, the "Pictures and Patterns" booklets were used as follow up materials to solidify children's difficulties with a pencil grasp, as well as following a highly structured method to sustain progress in printing. For some children, we went into cursive writing at the end of first grade, as the two hemispheres of the brain were stronger and had less strokes per letter than printing. A special educator determines whether to do both printing and cursive, depending on the child's needs. Children with mild to moderate physical difficulties may need to continue with only printing. We try to obtain handwriting skills prior to the new iPad's and other electronic means. When the fingers and hands are stabilized, academic subjects are improved.

Common Core

I have been using Common Core strategies in math and language arts in grades K-6th. I was trained as a part of being an Educational Therapist at UCLA. I have over 10 years experience in tutoring children, using Common Core according to California Standards. I follow the IXL lists for each grade level, then check off the subjects I have introduced. Then I follow through after a student has completed each section with a short quiz. I attune to the teacher's plan and review weekly. I also teach one week ahead of the next section, so a student will be prepared for classroom and homework success.