Fred Gillen:

Welcome to ABI online show where you're about to hear from industry experts that share their stories and advice on how you too can learn from their expertise and life's experiences. Now it's time for the interview, so let's get on with the show.

 

 

Hi everyone, it's Fred Gillen again, your host on ABI online radio. Today we've got a very special guest that's not one of the normal business experts that usually come on sharing their expertise and knowledge, but today we've got somebody that's based around the education of children.

 

 

Thanks to a long challenging and rewarding teaching career, Marlyn and it's Marlyn Martyn and I should've introduced Marlyn by name earlier, has had the privilege to support many children as they learn to read and write. She's deepened her knowledge about literacy through study and personal experience working with hundreds of children. She knows first hand what happens when a student misses out on developing the mechanics of reading in the early years of schooling. They just never catch up.

 

 

This sixteen year old boy was a catalyst for her to dedicate her professional life to literacy education. He courageously approached her and asked, "Would you help me Miss? I just can't read." He knew there was little future for him as a result.

 

 

Around twenty-five percent of children struggle with learning to read. They can be helped. After retiring from the classroom, Marlyn felt that she still had more to give. She developed a tutoring business, tutoring English and mathematics privately to students from third grade to year nine. She still does private tutoring, but feels an online business is the way that she can help more students.

 

 

Marlyn, with that introduction and we've covered a little bit in there, why have you decided to develop an online business instead of enjoying your retirement?

 

Marlyn Martyn:

Well first of all, I'm really enjoying my retirement and I feel now I have the best of both worlds. I tutor students for around fifteen hours a week. Monday through Thursday in the late afternoon. I found that the time available for tutoring is limited because of school hours. I'm also not available for students if they have any questions.

 

 

I began to tutor my grandchildren by Skype and it's a really enjoyable experience. I can make myself available for any questions that they have. When a new student wanted to come online and be tutored, I realized that maybe I can do this and do it really well. This has also been great, because I now have access to an online whiteboard and students can work examples and I can post questions and information. The interesting thing is, kids are really used to technology now and they really enjoy working on it.

 

Fred Gillen:

When did you see the advantages of online tutoring?

 

Marlyn Martyn:

I realized quite awhile ago that Skype had a lot of possibilities. I started to a website a few years ago and gave away ten english lessons. The amazing thing was that people from all over the world downloaded these lessons and many contacted me. That's when the idea of tutoring online came to me. It's very big in the United States now. Educational institutions all over the world are also doing it. What is come now, is that there's software available to support it. I think that my time to be an online tutor has come.

 

Fred Gillen:

Like you mentioned there, it's all over the world, so what you're teaching applies to any child that's probably in the English speaking areas?

 

Marlyn Martyn:

Absolutely and you want an English beginner, even English as a second language, all over the world actually.

 

Fred Gillen:

You've also created a blog that presents information for parents about [inaudible 00:04:10] smart kids. Why did you set this up?

 

Marlyn Martyn:

I started to realize that you just can't put yourself up online there and people will come rushing to you. It just doesn't work like that, so I started the blog A) to get some experience about working online and to establish my credibility. In doing the blog, I'm learning about internet marketing. I've just noticed that somebody's made a comment on it at the moment, before I joined you here. I get to talk to people and it's also a way for me to share information about children with busy parents.

 

Fred Gillen:

Getting back to the tutoring itself, how do you actually tutor children online? You mentioned Skype, but you also mentioned that you had a whiteboard tool. Do you want to give us a little bit more information about that?

 

Marlyn Martyn:

Sure. What I do with ... Well I've got the Skype and we tune in, the students and I tune in, then I before we start to tune in on Skype, I send them a login to the whiteboard. All they have to do is click it and then they come in and it's like they can write something on the screen and we can both see what's going on.

 

Fred Gillen:

That's certainly easy technology isn't it?

 

Marlyn Martyn:

Sure is and the kids love it.

 

Fred Gillen:

You interact with the children directly, but how do you help parents help their child in their reading development?

 

Marlyn Martyn:

I've put a website up now, it's what we call a membership site and people have to login details to do it. Up there I've got lessons and ideas for parents what to do to teach their child, but I also provide information and the lessons for them.

 

Fred Gillen:

When you say you provide the lessons, what type of lessons and how many or how does it work?

 

Marlyn Martyn:

What we've done with the first part of ... It's called "Help your child to read better". It's a three month reading course and the first part of it is where we educate the parents to help their children. Then we provide around about forty little books with lessons. The parents go through and do that with the children. I then support any questions they have. They can just email me and I can get back to them.

 

Fred Gillen:

You were saying that runs over a period of what? Three months?

 

Marlyn Martyn:

Yeah we say initially the three months, but because children work at different levels, they can have access for a lot longer than that. They might miss out on two lessons and not do the five lessons that we've put for each week. What we've virtually done is provide five lessons for ten weeks. Because children need to reinforce all the time to develop those reading [inaudible 00:07:10] in the brain, but sometimes families are busy. They may miss out on a couple of lessons. Well that's fine, they just catch up the next week.

 

Fred Gillen:

Yeah because it's all online, so they can basically do it at their own pace. [crosstalk 00:07:24]

 

Marlyn Martyn:

Absolutely.

 

Fred Gillen:

With the online students, is there a restriction to the age group or have you found that it's open to all ages?

 

Marlyn Martyn:

I've started off getting it going for the early years, because that's where the fundamental schools are. I've found that a lot of people with reading issues haven't got those fundamental skills. For example, they can't code words. They don't understand the letter-sound relationships. They haven't linked the audio and the visual areas of the brain. I've started that with young children, but also anybody that wants to learn to read, I can provide the lessons that they can do that as well. It doesn't take long.

 

Fred Gillen:

You're actually assisting teachers as well, because you're not replacing the teacher. What you're doing is giving that extra additional work load or whatever it might be to help the students and the parents understand what they need to do if their child has reading difficulties. Am I right in saying that?

 

Marlyn Martyn:

Oh absolutely. I work hand in hand with former colleagues and they say to parents, "Look Marlyn tutors your child needs this extra one on one that I haven't got the time to give". I do that, but I only see them one hour a week and that's one in seven days that they get the tutoring. I've designed the program, so that the parents can tutor the child. It's not difficult and the lessons are very short, so that they won't have kids rioting on them.

 

Fred Gillen:

You're not only teaching the children, but you're actually training the parents so that they can help their kids in a more constructive manner as well?

 

Marlyn Martyn:

Oh absolutely. The parents have to be the teachers of their child. After awhile they can really enjoy it.

 

Fred Gillen:

We were talking offline before the interview and you actually mentioned that you're also running some webinars as well to help in this area. Can you tell us a bit more about that?

 

Marlyn Martyn:

Yes, ideally you'd like to just put a lesson up online and the people go through it, but it doesn't work like that. With teaching there has to be that personal interaction. Webinars, online seminars and what I can do is go online, with again software, and the parents can login and they can listen to what I have to say. I can talk about something that I've learned that people are finding difficult to get across to their child. Then also I've been [inaudible 00:10:04] four of them to ask questions. The webinars are really good too, because I can record them and the parents can go through them as many times as they want.

 

Fred Gillen:

You know I'm hesitant about webinars, because we've known each other for quite awhile, and the other benefit of webinars is it's not a one to one medium, so you can actually have a group of parents come on and they can learn from each other as part of the interaction.

 

Marlyn Martyn:

Yeah and that's the interaction's really good and I think it also helps parents to know that they're not alone. As I've said before, we've got about twenty-five percent of children with reading issues. Parents and schools and teachers need to get together to make sure that each child gets the gift of reading.

 

Fred Gillen:

It's a good use of your time, because it means that you're actually spreading your knowledge out across a lot of [inaudible 00:11:02] in particular webinars, so it's not just a one on one aspect, again you're actually talking to a group of people, which is great.

 

Marlyn Martyn:

Yeah that really makes it exciting for me, because I know there are a lot of children there that just need that little bit of extra help. I can support them by supporting their parents.

 

Fred Gillen:

If a parent is concerned about the child's reading ability, how would they actually understand that there might be an issue there if they haven't actually heard anything? I would imagine the teacher would tell them upfront, but let's say for example they just have a gut feeling there's an issue there. How would they actually know that or validate that?

 

Marlyn Martyn:

What they need to do is we don't become good readers unless we practice. Schools send books home and they assume that the parents are listening to the child read every night. I know for sure that not every parent manages to do that for time restraints, but it's really really important. They would pick up straight away whether the child is guessing words or not reading or having difficult. What they need to do then, is to do something about it. Start with the school. Go back to the school and talk about it with the teacher. The teacher probably knows that the child is struggling a little bit, but hasn't the time to give that little bit of extra. You still need to go back to the school and you need to work with the class teacher to see what can be done.

 

Fred Gillen:

I suppose one of the things that people obviously are interested in, we've got a lot of business owners mainly listening to this broadcast, a lot of the business owners who certainly have children that may have some issues with their learning abilities. What's the best way for anybody to contact you or to find out more?

 

Marlyn Martyn:

I think its best to go and have a look at my website, www.helpyourchildtoread.com then you can email me from there and I'll certainly get to you as soon I get your email. I think that's the best way to do it.

 

Fred Gillen:

You've actually grabbed a very good domain name there, helpyourchildtoread.com. [inaudible 00:13:21]

 

Marlyn Martyn:

It does. I was thrilled to bits when I managed to get that.

 

Fred Gillen:

What's your next move? Is there anything else you'd like to share with the listeners just to encourage them to help their child to read?

 

Marlyn Martyn:

Okay, the fact of life is that if your child is struggling to read or anybody is struggling to read, they won't grow out of it. It's a skill and they need to know what structures they have to develop to do this reading. My advice is if you have a child, no matter what age, and they're struggling with reading you have to do something about it. Just don't let it go. The ramifications of it in the future are just too horrendous to even contemplate.

 

Fred Gillen:

I can imagine that if somebody you know that's even ... One of the questions that I probably should've asked earlier was, and again talking offline you were telling me about this young girl that you helped at one [inaudible 00:14:31] that was really behind the eight ball with her reading abilities. Would you like to share that story with the listeners?

 

Marlyn Martyn:

It's just a lovely story. This particular young woman. She was a young woman in her early thirties and at school she definitely had learning challenges, there's no two ways about that. The school that she went to, the teacher said, "You'll never learn to read. You're dyslexic". That was the end of it. She said to herself and she told me this, she said, "I'll show you". She waited til her middle thirties and I came along and she started to read. Now she's not reading at an adult level, but she's reading children's books, menus, you name it she can read it. She said to me one day, "Do you think I could go back to the school and just say I told you so". I think, "Well I understand that you might like to, but I think just let it go". It was just amazing and just to see her self-confidence grow, but reading also does things for our brain's development. It's not just about something that you need to survive in society. It offers so much more than that.

 

Fred Gillen:

I take from that too, I know your website is bound to help your child to read, but from that you're actually quite open to helping adults with reading difficulties as well?

 

Marlyn Martyn:

Oh absolutely. I've got a reading teacher online that I'm slowly developing for that, because I do know ... Adults come to me and ask, "Look I do these with my reading, what would you suggest?" One of the things that they're usually doing is reading word by word. I've just said "No, the skill is what we call chunks of reading into groups of words that make sense". I've lost count of the number of adults that I've just told that to, it's just a skill. Lots of adults too, haven't had practice with the comprehension skills and once they get those, they're reading definitely improves and I can show them how to do that.

 

Fred Gillen:

I've got no doubt. It's been really interesting conversation and I suppose I should have a talk to you about increasing my reading skills. I can certainly improve on that and the retention too on what I read, because I find a lot of times I've got to go back over stuff and re-read it before it actually sinks in. I think that, unless there's something else that you'd like to add, is there Marlyn, we'll finish the interview.

 

Marlyn Martyn:

All I suppose all I want to say is thank heavens for the internet.

 

Fred Gillen:

Yes without we wouldn't be out there. Neither of us, what we're doing right now.

 

Marlyn Martyn:

Exactly and everybody now in business has got such a wonderful opportunity to build their business online.

 

Fred Gillen:

That's right. Just for the listeners benefit again, the web address was helpyourchildtoread.com.

 

Marlyn Martyn:

That's correct Fred yes.

 

Fred Gillen:

Terrific. I appreciate your time again and thanks for coming on the call again Marlyn.

 

Marlyn Martyn:

Thank you Fred.

 

Fred Gillen:

Just a quick reminder that if you are an expert in your field and you want to share your knowledge simply go to our website, radio.abi.com.au and register your interest. You can also listen to more experts share their stories and expertise at the same address radio.abi.com.au. Look forward to seeing you there. Take care and have a fantastic day.