FAQs for Parents

Q. What is OPT?

A. It is the Organization for Psychoeducational Tutoring, a nonprofit organization set up to teach both academic and psychological skills.

Q. What sorts of students can benefit from OPT?

A. We are looking for children who need help with either reading skills or psychological skills, or both. We can best help children who would enjoy a relationship with a caring adult (usually a college student). We can best help those families who are organized enough to keep a telephone appointment (i.e. answer the phone when it rings and have the child ready to participate) almost every day for at least a year.

Q. What is meant by "psychological skills?"

A. These are the skills that help people to lead happy and successful lives: productivity, joyousness, kindness, honesty, good decision-making. Others include anger control, emotional regulation,social skills, and anxiety reduction. These are skills that are often learned through psychotherapy. Dr. Strayhorn, a child psychiatrist, founded OPT out oft he belief that there was a need for a service method that could offer many of the insights that have been gained by psychotherapy researchers, through education -- instead of, or in addition to, clinical treatment.

Q. Why is reading skill so important for children?

A. Children who can read better find school much more pleasant. When they are happier at school, they are less likely to have behavior or emotional problems. As they move from "learning to read" to "reading to learn," they can more easily

learn all other important life skills, including crucial psychological skills. In addition, the child who can read for fun has a source of pleasure that will last a lifetime.

Q. How successful have OPT's methods been in teaching reading?

A. In a study published in 2005, we reported that a group of children who had progressed at half a grade level per year before tutoring progressed at an average of two grade levels per year during tutoring.

Q. How do tutors and students work on reading and psychological skills at the same time?

A. They take turns reading to each other models and explanations of psychological skills. Other readings explain how to do "psychological skills exercises" that tutor and student do together.

Q. What if a student needs help only with reading and not psychological skills, or only psychological skills, and not reading?

A. That's no problem as far as OPT is concerned. We try to adjust the curriculum to the needs of the individual student.

Q. Is this a research project?

A. Yes. We measure our results and plan to report them, to help figure out whether these methods should be used more widely.

Q. Why are the sessions by phone?

A. They are by phone so that many hours of teaching time can be delivered, without demanding transportation time from parents. Another advantage is that students can receive these services regardless of where they live.

Q. Does medical insurance pay for this? Or how does it get paid for?

A. Medical insurance does not pay for OPT (it is considered an educational intervention, not a medical one.) But: the good news is, you don't have to pay for it either. At this time, charitable donations have made it possible for user fees to be eliminated. In other words, there's no cost for its services.