Every trick in the book: Tutor applies unique strategies to summer reading program

Published 12:05 am Sunday, June 4, 2023

SALISBURY — Students experiencing reading shortfalls have an alternative to summer school programming, thanks to one local tutor determined to get them up to speed.

“I have my own tutoring service,” Royal House Tutoring’s Ericka Becton said. “I had a variety of people reaching out to me who were concerned. We were talking about the same thing, how students were falling behind.”

Becton’s tutoring offers services at a cost, but after talking with many parents, she realized that standard tutoring fees were unaffordable for many low-income families.

“So what I did was take on those students,” Becton said.

Her summer enrichment program takes on rising second, third and fourth graders. There is a $40 per week charge for students whose parents can afford it, but Becton isn’t planning on turning away any needy students because of their parents’ pocketbooks.

“The only way some parents can afford (tutoring) is to get a second job,” Becton said. “One parent came to me and said, ‘I have two kids. I can only afford one, but both of them are in great need of reading.’ I couldn’t dare tell the parent that they would have to choose.”

Becton plans on focusing on strategies and skills that make reading development possible for students even outside of instructional settings.

While assessing students’ needs, she detected many needed to improve their reading strategies and hoped to set them back on the right track.

One example of a strategy that Becton uses is the 3-2-1 method. Using that method, a reader should extract three takeaways from a material to support the context, two questions they may have about such subjects as characters or setting and one thing they enjoyed.

During the summer program, Becton is eager to bring parents into the fold.

“I am doing this enrichment for the two months while (students) are out of school, but I want to keep that connection with these parents,” Becton said. “Sometimes, when school gets started, things happen. I don’t want this just to be a summer thing.”

As Becton pointed out, a summer-long program is not sufficient to solve all the problems she sees.

“Trust and believe, I know it’s going to take more than two months,” Becton said. “Let’s say you have a child in the sixth grade, and their reading skills are on a third-grade level. It’s going to take more than two days out of the week for an hour for this to happen.”

To help offset costs, Becton has tapped into community advocates within Salisbury.

“I have reached out to some fraternities, sororities, small businesses and just people individually, who have donated for this reading enrichment,” Becton said. “Every little bit goes a long way.”

Becton is establishing a location on West Innes Street where she has a long-term vision of becoming a West End Tutoring Center. She has secured the location but has yet to set it up to offer complete tutoring services. For now, she is working at the Rowan Public Library headquarters on West Fisher Street, which permits her to take learning outside into the Bell Tower Green on days when the weather permits.

To contact Becton about her summer enrichment program, call 704-840-0787 or email royalteaching20@gmail.com.