A Typical Session

A typical reading session…

“As fast as we can, as slow as we must.”

— Aylett Cox

LearnUp lessons are fast-paced and keep the students engaged. Our goal is to move students forward through the program as quickly as we can, but we only go as fast as a student can learn.

Each one on one tutoring session is divided into 6 core components: Sounds, Syllables, Words, Spelling, Writing, and Reading. Each component is sub-divided into spelling and reading segments. During the tutoring session, and for each component, the tutor reviews already learned or challenging concepts, improves, or deepens mastered concepts and introduces new ones.

Each lesson begins with students working with phonics on the magnetic board…

A word about the Magnetic Board


LearnUp reading is taught using a magnetic whiteboard and letter sets. The magnets give our tutors the ability to teach a concept using a multisensory structured approach – all directly on the board.

The magnetic board is:

  • hands-on
  • multisensory
  • visual
  • interactive
  • fun and engaging

For the student, this interactive learning environment is very appealing. For the tutor, the board helps picks up the pace of the lesson, keeping momentum and minimizing transitions–helping to keep students engaged. LearnUp doesn’t use flashcards, which are slow and tedious.

There are 7 fundamental sections to each lesson.

Sounds The student learns and practices her sounds using the letters on the magnetic board. For spelling, the tutor says the sounds and the student points to the letter(s) that represent that sound on the board. For reading, the tutor points to the letters and students say the sounds. As appropriate, the tutor introduces a new spelling or reading concept.

Syllables. Using the letters on the magnetic board, the student makes and reads nonsense words that range from 1-6 syllables. For spelling, the tutor sounds out nonsense syllables that focus on phonetic concepts (such as diphthongs) and students will spell these on the board using the magnetic letters. The tutor then dictates changes that require one or two changes in letters. For reading, the tutor creates nonsense words on the board that focuses on phonetic concepts and the student reads these words.

WordsTutor directly transfers phonetic words into daily spelling, reading, and writing. For spelling, the tutor dictates high-frequency words that address several spelling concepts and the student writes these words onto paper in the student binder. The dictated words correspond to the concepts addressed earlier in the lesson.

Reading & ComprehensionHalf of each session is spent reading in the reading books. Each chapter book corresponds to the program curriculum and has a list of words and phrases that correlate to the phonetic principles addressed in the book. Our read aloud technique is called Pressure Release.

 WritingThe student completes a 5-minute written response daily. Reading prompts include questions about the stories, other comprehension and interpretation questions.

Reading at Home.  We ask our families to read for 10-15 minutes at home every day. We call this homework “Repeated Readings.”

Reading Techniques

Pressure Release. This is a powerful approach to transferring phonetic knowledge into reading. It provides a platform for the tutor to support a fledgling reader without embarrassment while giving the corrective encouragement necessary to create a fluent reader. It provides the relief a struggling reader needs if she is having issues reading the text. Essentially, the student will read aloud until s/he makes two errors, then the tutor will then take over for the student and they will read aloud together for two sentences. Then, the student carries on alone until she makes two more errors. This continues on for the rest of the reading time. This technique can allow students to read for a half-hour without frustration.

Repeated Reading. 100 research studies show that repeated readings are critical to the development of the word form area of the brain. You can see our recommended reading techniques here.

You can see a video of this, and other, reading techniques here.