Finding a Qualified and Caring Professional Tutor/Learning Specialist for a Student with a Learning Difference

by themba

Finding the appropriate tutor with the right academic training, professional experience, and the ability to guide and nurture their student can be a challenge, particularly for a child with a learning difference, such as dyslexia, ADHD, autism spectrum, language processing difficulties or other issues.

Anyone can tutor; it is an unregulated field. Finding the best learning support for your child, when he or she is demonstrating learning issues, is crucial. The right professional can make a significant difference in your child’s life.

If your child is demonstrating learning difficulties, parents should request an evaluation performed by a state licensed professional such as a psychologist, neuropsychologist, speech language pathologist, and/or occupational therapist etc. Effective tutoring is guided by a thorough evaluation, particularly a multidisciplinary one by licensed professionals.

When working with students, particularly those who struggle with learning, it is necessary to explicitly teach them skills to facilitate their learning, encouraging them to become more efficient life long learners. More often than not, these students don’t know how to effectively plan, organize, brainstorm, extract important information, read effectively and efficiently, and write fluently, and/or structure essays. Learning is frustrating, hard, and draining.

When shopping for a tutor, ask important questions. Many tutors have advanced degrees in content such as history, but they do not have the necessary and thorough training in assessing and teaching students with learning differences.

• Has the tutor earned at least a master’s degree? In which area of specialization? Does your tutor have any state or national licensure?
• What is your tutor’s professional teaching experience?
• Does your tutor work with other professionals? Does the tutor know when to refer/consult with other professionals and does he or she communicate with the school, if the parent desires that he or she do so?
• How up-to-date is the center or tutor with techniques and strategies to help your child with learning differences? Is their instructional approach based on research published by academics in peer-reviewed literature?
• Does the tutor provide individualized differentiated instruction, instead of just one type of instruction? A one-size-fits all approach is typically not effective. Children with learning differences benefit most from tailored approaches that fit their individual needs based on how your child learns.
• Small businesses or individual professional tutors may offer a more personalized tutoring experience for your child and family compared to a large tutoring company, more often than not where tutors’ qualifications are not transparent.
• If requested and appropriate, does the tutor offer or provide technology to supplement the tutoring? How important is this supplementation for your child’s learning needs?

Secured a Professional Tutor

Once you find the right professional, it is important to ask yourself if your son or daughter has a strong rapport with that person. Students should feel comfortable asking questions, contemplating and digging further into the material, learning techniques, and be motivated and feel good about learning.

It is also important to ascertain whether your child seems to be learning well with the professional. An effective tutor translates and dissects the material that overwhelms your child and offers more efficient ways to process and retain the information. Finally, how well will your tutor grow with your son or daughter’s emerging/changing needs, while remaining true to his or her training?

Importance of Teamwork

You want a tutor who not only works with your child, but with you- the parent, the school and someone who can offer strategies and helpful tactics for when you are at home with your child. Also, it is important that you hire a tutor who is experienced with your son or daughter’s curriculum and school’s culture.

My Training as a Licensed Language Therapist and Professional Tutor.

When I was an undergraduate, having minimal knowledge of speech therapy aside from lisps and stuttering, the field of speech language pathology fell into my lap, piquing a particular interest in language development and language learning disabilities, e.g. students with speaking, listening, reading, and/or writing difficulties. I love teaching children; previously worked as a camp counselor, tutor, respite care worker for children with disabilities, and volunteer at an inpatient pediatric psychiatric facility. Connecting science with how we learn speech and language, understanding how atypical speech and language development can negatively impact learning, and combining this knowledge with my passion for helping children, my career was born and I found my calling.

Now I am a New York licensed speech-language therapist, with over nine years of experience, specializing in teaching children with language-based learning issues, including reading, writing, speaking, and/or listening. I completed all NY State educational and national requirements. After completing a bachelor’s degree in speech-language therapy, I earned a master’s degree in speech-language pathology (including two full years of graduate school, including specific course work, including assessing and treating students with language based learning issues and a variety of supervised clinical practicums), passed a national examination, and completing a full-time nine-month clinical fellowship post-master’s, I became licensed in NY State to work as a speech language therapist, also known as a speech language pathologist. In addition, I have complied with the Continuing Education Units (CEU)- licensed speech-language therapists need thirty hours of approved CEUs during a three-year interval. My training and work experiences allowed me to provide not only speech language therapy but also professional remediation and tutoring support to those with language based learning issues. The best part of my job is watching my students succeed.

Craig Selinger is a licensed pediatric speech language therapist and learning specialist with a private practice in Park Slope, Brooklyn. He works with preschoolers and pre-adolescents with speech, language, reading, and writing based learning difficulties. He can be reached at info@thembatutors.com

Helpful Links:
1) The International Dyslexia Association- Knowledge and Practice Standards for Teachers of Reading
2) Knowledge and Skills Needed by Speech-Language Pathologists With Respect to Reading and Writing in Children and Adolescents
3) The Multiple-Linguistic Factors Approach to Language-Literacy Therapy