Daisy blooms at Reading Clinic during pandemic
Daina Casling was worried about her daughter's education when The Reading Clinic was forced to switch to online tutoring during the Covid-19 pandemic.
She need not have been concerned — like many of the other children involved with the education charity, Daisy Langley has thrived in her new learning environment.
Daisy, 9, has been receiving tutoring at the clinic three or four times a week since her teachers said she needed more support to keep up with her peers about 2½ years ago.
Ms Casling, from Paget, said: “We were really concerned that without the regular face-to-face interaction, Daisy might lose some of the great progress she has made this academic year.
“We have been fortunate that Daisy reacted really well and has been totally engaged with the online sessions.
“She's a kid who generally likes ‘tech' anyway, so she had little issue adapting to an online environment.”
She added: “We are convinced that the support TRC has provided Daisy has likely changed her whole educational trajectory.”
The Reading Clinic closed its Pembroke location shortly after the first case of Covid-19 was reported in Bermuda. But the charity continued to tutor 75 of the 88 pupils it had at the start of the year through a virtual-based approach to tutoring.
Ms Casling said that Daisy's progress was helped by the close support of her tutor, Cynthia Armano, who has “a calm manner and endless patience”.
She explained that Ms Armano worked as hard as she could to figure out what online tools worked best to help Daisy learn.
Ms Casling added: “Even more importantly perhaps, she has been really understanding as to what the emotional transition has been like for her.
“Kids were abruptly pulled from their normal routines — school, sports and tutoring. It's been hard for all of them.
“Mrs Armano had an amazing ability to ensure Daisy keeps progressing academically while still being empathetic when it's hard for her.”
She said: “She flexes regularly to adjust to Daisy's struggles but also her mood. Having this support has really been a game-changer for us. We consider it has been a silver lining in this uncertain time.”
Another parent, Chelito DeSilva-Ruddock, from St George's, said that the online transition had gone well for her daughter Suri.
Suri, 8, receives tutoring three times a week after being identified as a struggling reader.
One of Suri's favourite aspects, Ms DeSilva-Ruddock said, was the ability to show her parents the progress she made.
She explained: “She likes for her parents to be able to see what she is doing and often requested that we come to her sessions.
“With the sessions being done at school, arranging this was not easy and it had only happened twice in the last two years.
“However, online sessions from home mean that we can peek in and watch when we have a few minutes.”
Ms DeSilva-Ruddock said that their tutor adapted well to her daughter's learning style, which was improved with movement and tossing a ball.
She added that the online setting made it easier to monitor her daughter's progress.
Ms DeSilva-Ruddock said: “We know exactly what she is working on and what we can do to help.
“We definitely feel more empowered with how and where to help.”
She said Suri was making steady progress.
She added: “She learns better through movement and her online tutor has even incorporated her shooting a basketball into her lessons.
“Suri's confidence has really increased, and she has even requested more time with the tutor.”
Glenn Faries, the executive director of The Reading Clinic, said that remote tutoring had been so successful that it could become a permanent option for pupils.
He explained: “In our Core Reading Programme, we are able to provide modified end-of-year testing to students, which will allow us to gain insight into how effective the online platform is at assisting our students to master the tools and skills that will allow them to successfully navigate their learning difference.
“We have noticed that, due to different learning styles, online tutoring works very well for some students but not for others.
“It is not in our plan for online tutoring to replace our standard method, but it will be offered in certain circumstances and for certain students.”