Category Archives: Special Education Tutoring

Incorporating Technology into Tutoring for Special Education Students

Assistive technology, when incorporated with online tutoring, can help students with special education needs meet academic goals..

What has long been an established item in mainstream classrooms – the use of technology in teaching – is gradually seeping into special education tutoring at home, too. The long held view that students with special needs would not be able to cope with online tutoring or using online learning aids has thankfully been proven wrong.

Technology can benefit a whole range of students, irrespective of their abilities, disorders or challenging behavior. Used imaginatively, parents, tutors and students can make technology work for them very effectively.

From strengthen awareness to simple life skills – make technology work for you

At the PACER Center and at FCTD (Family Center on Technology and Disability), students and parents can share for free in a fully-captioned assistive technology awareness series of videos, aptly named AT in Action. The videos are designed to improve awareness of assistive technology devices that can support students with disabilities, helping them to thrive at their own pace in their special education tutoring programs at home, at school and in their communities.

There is information on technology devices that help younger children with communication, learning and mobility issues and details on clever devices that enable students with fine motor and learning disabilities to use computer tablets as part of their Individualized Education Program (IEP). FCTD provides a free fact sheet for parents (in English and Spanish).

FCTD and Parent Training and Information Centers (PTIC) across the country offer information on assistive and instrumental technology resources for children with special needs or disabilities.

Incorporating Technology into Focused Learning Stations at Home

Parents whose children receive special education tutoring at home should discuss with their tutor and their child how technology – assistive or mainstream – can be built into their mini work environments or work stations. Simple tablets for example make use of a child’s natural curiosity to explore, to touch, play and to delight in bright colors.

It is important to encourage children with special needs to develop a love of learning and education. Allowing children to have  input in the design of their workstations will give them this and a sense of achievement but will also permit them to work at their own pace and level, once their workstation is fully set up.

These can be workstations that meet specific sensory needs in younger children or mini-environments designed for special education tutoring of older students who want to learn and socially interact with other students via the internet as part of their home study program.

Examples of Workstations

Learning through play is very much part of tutoring for special education students and for younger children this means their workstation could include toys and dolls’ clothes to encourage dressing up skills and imagination but also teach life skills such as tidying up after play.

Workstations can also be geared towards specific subjects such as math, using small and larger blocks or different size balls or boxes. Using scales or other forms of measurements, parents and home tutors can encourage exploration of shapes, sizes and weights, while teaching how to count, how to subtract, divide or add at the same time.

Special Education Tutoring within the Context of the IEP

Intensive in-home tutoring to students with special education needs is coordinated with the student's IEP.

Although Educational Tutorial Services offers nationwide private tutoring and test-prep tutoring to students of all ages, we are perhaps best known for our special education tutoring programs for at-risk students within the foster care system.

Having Somebody Speak Up For You

When families with special needs children first hear the diagnosis of their child’s disorder or disability, it can be numbing, devastating and deeply upsetting. Many parents ask “Where do we go from here?” It is common to turn to advocates like us to help guide you through the tutoring process.

Having one-on-one special education tutoring is important and can turn a child’s life around – since the in-home tutor will be far better able to recognize an individual child’s needs. For example if a student’s learning has improved and their development requires the IEP to be adapted to incorporate this, the monthly progress report will alert the school and caregivers to this.

Taking a Personalized Approach

Students are far more likely to improve and succeed in their learning if they feel secure, happy and their individual needs are met. We recognize this and tailor our teaching approach accordingly. Our tutors are very compassionate and have experience working with all learning abilities.

There are pre- and post assessments and monthly progress reports which are sent to carers, parents, teachers at the student’s school and to school administrators, but there are also the skills tutors have acquired by working with foster children and at-risk students – they are trained not just as special education tutoring providers but to recognize a child’s development needs as professionals within the context of foster care.

Often tutors come from the same community as their students and, therefore, have good insight into the concerns of foster parents and other caregivers as well as the challenges families face every day.  Because many of our tutors are certified in special education, we are uniquely qualified to provide special education tutoring. Learn more about our special education programs.

Tips to Improve Special Education Tutoring at Home

Classroom techniques can be effective when applied to special education tutoring.

Your foster child may already be receiving special education tutoring at home in addition to inclusive classroom education, but as most foster parents know, much can be done to enhance a child’s learning experience when learning is naturally embedded in their playtime.

A sense of achievement can work wonders to boost confidence in and out of the classroom environment. Special education tutoring doesn’t stop when the private tutor goes home for the day. With a few simple devices and a good measure of imagination and preparation, your child’s special learning needs can be addressed during playtime, too. Here are a few tips:

Use Classroom Tricks at Home

Your special education tutoring program may already include help with writing and copying information from the class board, but you can help your child in a simple and practical way by preparing a laminated sheet of paper that has a sentence window cut-out. The sheet or card features two slits which are set at right angles to the window and to one side, creating a slide.

Your child can use the slide to pull up or down the laminated card and, as soon as the window reaches the sentence to be copied out, it can reveal the whole sentence or just one word at a time, whatever the child feels more confident with. At home you can use a laminated card that spells out some of your child’s favorite bedtime stories, jokes or riddles and ask your child to copy them on a fresh piece of paper with the help of your slide.

Letters are Weird, Aren’t They?

Tutoring for special education students often involves teaching children with learning disabilities to overcome their fear of letters and their confusion over identifying them correctly. Make use of your child’s hobbies and likes – if your child likes to paint, encourage “letter pictures”, perhaps showing an animal for each letter or a favorite item of food, so that letters appear as friends instead of foes.

You could make an alphabet frieze so your child can remember what letters look like when she  is doing a writing exercise or you are exploring books together.

Older children who love being online and who perhaps already receive some form of online tutoring as part of their special education tutoring program can have fun with a variety of online teaching aids designed with parents and students in mind. Look for various government and university websites that offer great activities and teaching aids for free.

Ask your child’s tutor what you can do to help your child with reading and build this into playtime. Find out what kind of questions you should ask during reading exercises to ensure your child understands what you are reading together.

In-Home Tutoring for Special Education Students

Tutors who provide in-home tutoring to students with special needs should do so in alignment with the student's IEP.

At-risk students who have been removed from their families and placed in temporary foster care or children who have been through a traumatic experience and are now part of the long-term foster care system often have very different needs from children who live in a happy and stable family environment.

With some 114,000 children in foster care across the US on any given day, children are often moved from home to home, from neighborhood to neighborhood and, as a result, have gaps in their education. A large proportion of them, around 30 to 40%, require special education tutoring because they have been diagnosed with a learning disability.

Tutoring for special education students can take many forms and varies according to their Individualized Education Programs, their abilities and challenges as well as their age.  Tutoring may incorporate online tutoring or private tutoring with workstations with technology that allows learning and interaction with other students or simply help to improve in a specific area such as math, reading and writing or acquiring better study habits and discipline.

Working with Caregivers, Schools, and Social Workers

Whoever provides special education tutoring for foster children or at-risk students must be able to work together with all the different members of this “learning team”. The team consists of the child, the students’ school, foster parents or caregivers, and any agencies in the community providing services to the family and student.  Collaboration is essential for the student to succeed academically.

Providing Private Tutoring for Individual Students

Although legislation requires that teaching methods should be universal in their substance and technique, the wide range of learning and physical disabilities as well as behavioral disorders makes it necessary for special education tutoring to be tailored to individual students. Many at-risk students and foster youth are still waiting to be diagnosed officially, making it even harder for mainstream inclusive schools to provide the education these children need.

Such children often feel they are just “a number” in the care system, so one-on-one home tutoring addresses a child’s very real need to feel “special” in the best sense of the word!  Suitable special education tutoring takes into consideration a child’s need to learn at his own pace and ability, while at the same time stressing cognitive skills development and instilling good study habits.

Applying Best Practices

The National Center for Special Education Research (NCSER) provides educators with a research forum where new teaching methods and ideas can be exchanged and discussed. Asking the right questions at school should provide caregivers and foster parents with the answers as to what their special education child will need within the context of their Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Educational Tutorial Services ensures all tutors know how to provide tutoring services that are aligned to IEP for maximum benefit to students.

What to Expect from Special Education Tutoring

Knowing what to expect from special education tutoring ensures your child gets the academic help he needs.

Tutoring for special education students usually takes place in the classroom in an inclusive environment with children who do not have learning, physical or behavioral disabilities or difficulties. However, foster children’s education is often patchy because they move from home to home and therefore school to school. As a result, they may require additional special education tutoring at home.

So what can foster parents expect from private tutoring in the home or online tutoring services? Here are some questions to ask a tutor:

  • What can the tutor tell parents about their child’s rate of learning – is it what is expected at this stage of a child’s development?
  • What can parents do at home, after special education tutoring has ended for the day, to help a child do her best at school?
  • Is the tutor applying specific techniques or interventions to help a child with his learning difficulties – techniques that parents could learn and apply during playtime?
  • What kind of study habits and skills will the tutor be teaching?
  • What will the child’s Individual Learning Plan (ILP) look like?
  • Does the home tutor provide progress reports?

Special Education Tutoring Should Cover a Wide-Range of Learning Abilities

The special education tutoring provider parents choose for their child should preferably use tutors who live within the communities they teach in and should offer a whole spectrum of services for children with special needs, such as:

  • speech and language impairments
  • autism spectrum disorders
  • hearing and visual impairments
  • learning disabilities
  • emotional and behavior disorders
  • delays in their development

For parents of children with physical disabilities, it is usually preferable to find a provider who offers home-based special education tutoring, such as Educational Tutorial Services.

Academic Goals Should Be Achievable

With diagnostic testing it is possible to establish benchmarks and to build up a student’s confidence with one-to-one special education tutoring at home. Assessment sheets are given to parents and, following discussions with parents and students, tutors put together achievable goals so students can reach the next benchmark in their development and learning process. Using a student’s own strengths to achieve continued learning success and therefore higher grades and improved test scores at school, tutors devise Individual Learning Plans that bring results.

Any special education tutoring provider parents hire for their child’s home education should at least offer the following:

1. Pre- and Post-Test Assessments

2. Individual Learning Plans

3. Monthly Progress Reports

You can learn more about Educational Tutorial Services’ special education tutoring programs here.

Ways Students with Learning Disabilities Can Improve SAT Test Scores

Students with learning disabilities may need extra help to study for college entrance exams. Your teacher and a tutor are great resources to consider.

Students with learning disabilities may need extra help to study for college entrance exams. Your teacher and a tutor are great resources to consider.

Studying can be quite a challenging task for all students because of reasons like lack of interest and short attention span. Studying is even more difficult when you combine the two reasons above with learning disabilities. Here are some tips on how students with learning disabilities can study better and hence, score good grades on big exams like the SAT.

Identify the Problem

The first thing to do is to pinpoint what the problem is. For example, the problem could be an extremely short attention span. If you know what the problem is, you can find the right approach to deal with it. If you spend most of your days studying but you are not getting the results you want, it could mean that you do not have the right study skills. Pay attention to yourself and find out what your problem is.

Organize Content You Need to Study

For exams such as the SAT, it is usually very taxing content-wise. There are a lot of materials and topics to study for. This can get very confusing and discouraging for a student with learning disabilities. The solution to this problem is to be very organized. List all the subjects and topics that are required for the SAT, and check them off one by one as you move along on your revision route. This way, you will feel like there is less clutter and things are more systematic.

Listen up!

Teachers are the experienced exam-takers. They are a great source for clues and tips for your big exam. More often than not, teachers may drop hints about important information on what to focus on and what to spend less time studying for. Try to pick out verbal cues from your teachers. Clues can be words such as “write this down” or “listen up”. When you hear your teachers say these verbal cues, be sure to write it down, mark it or flag the pages so that you know what you should be studying.

Don’t Forget the “Cheat Sheets”

Yes, there are cheat sheets available. They are located at the end of every chapter in your textbooks. These cheat sheets are called “chapter review”. Textbooks these days offer these review pages with questions you can answer. If you have trouble with chunks of texts in your textbooks, the important parts of the chapter will be highlighted in this review portion. Be sure to take note of what is mentioned in the review pages, and then go back to the chapter and read up on it again, this time, paying more attention to the new information you have just learned. The questions in the review sections are also helpful – they can help you see how much you have understood from reading the chapter as well as summarizes the entire chapter.

Tutoring and College Admissions Planning for Students with Learning or Other Disabilities

One-on-one tutoring can help students with disabilities get into college.

One-on-one tutoring can help students with learning or other disabilities get into college.

Planning for admissions by students with disabilities needs to be completed in two phases:

a)    Choose colleges to apply to by reviewing how they provide support to students with disabilities.

b)   Ensure the paperwork necessary for disability accommodation for students with disabilities is completed and the necessary permissions are obtained.

Typically, colleges accommodate student disabilities as much as possible. Tests such as the SAT and ACT (GED is due for a revision in 2014 when it too will be considered a college preparedness test) accommodate disabilities by extending additional time and allowing special services. Common disabilities include:

a)    a learning disability

b)   attention deficit/ hyperactivity  disorder

c)    visual or hearing impairment or other physical disorders

d)   certain psychological disorders such as mood anxiety disorder or some other persistent illness

College-Related Issues

When considering going to college, students with disabilities and their parents may consider the disabilities a handicap. However, that is not necessarily the case. In their drive for enriching campus life, many colleges look to include people with various challenges, including those with disabilities. Allowances in qualifying grades and scores on college preparedness tests may be made. Thus, it is to your advantage to acknowledge disabilities during the application process rather than hide them. Students can offer this kind of information in the “additional information” section and even discuss the effect of these disabilities on their grades and competitive exam scores.

The support system available at your target institution should be evaluated. It is important that they have a coordinator to look after the needs of students with disabilities. More importantly, you need to consider their retention and graduation rates.

Documentation Needed and Accommodations by the Testing Services

The SAT, ACT and GRE and all such testing services provide accommodations to students whose disabilities are properly documented. The disability must be proven to exist and be documented by authorized personnel. The accommodations take various forms. For example, you can get extra time up to 50% and 100% more than the time given to average test takers. Providing an isolated or less crowded room for an AD/HD challenged student is possible. A reader or a scribe may be permitted depending on the disability. Question papers in regular font size and larger ones are available. In case of a computer-based testing, the display can be adjusted to allow for larger fonts for those who need them. The ADA or the Americans with Disabilities Act provides access to testing centers for wheelchair-bound students.

The testing authorities of SAT or ACT will issue a letter authorizing the accommodation. They ensure for every individual case that the accommodation did not provide any undue advantage to the students with disability compared to regular students. They also make sure accommodations do not alter the tests in any way. Testing under altered conditions must measure the same capabilities the test is supposed to measure for typical candidates.

Preparing for the test is important. Students must follow the actual conditions. For example, students who need a scribe or a reader should work with one during the preparation phase. Tutors at Educational Tutorial Services can help students with disabilities prepare for tests. Learn more about our private test prep tutoring here, and call his to schedule an appointment with a qualified tutor.

How Online Tutoring Helps All Students

Online tutoring can accelerate learning for all students, including those who are behind in school.

Online tutoring can accelerate learning for all students, including those who are behind in school.

In-person tutoring by a competent teacher can benefit all students. Students get personal help from an experienced teacher in a non-threatening environment. Stress due to peer pressure is very low. Online tutoring is a practical alternative that provides nearly the same environment as in-person tutoring. In fact, many students find interacting with the tutor over the Internet even less threatening than if a tutor was physically present. Studies have shown students are able to improve grades through the right type of online tutoring. Many students also reported improvements in self-confidence in the process.

Growth of Online Tutoring

There is another aspect of the online tutoring growth phenomenon for you to consider. According to a well-known white paper by Cherie Mazur, online tutoring is a student retention and remediation solution. Student enrollment in college increased by 34% over 2000 to 2009, yet some 60% students joining community colleges needed remedial courses. This is where online tutoring can easily help students in need. Students can opt for college admission preparation programs available through online tutoring services. They can get remedial help in reading and math even before admission to a college. With the growth of online tutoring, parents are realizing the advantages tutoring offers their children.

Benefits Across the Board

The offerings available through these online tutoring sites are numerous. You can simply seek help for homework, improvement in reading, writing and math skills, subjects like physics, chemistry, social science, languages and so on. The academic levels may be K-12, college level, or preparing for tests such as GRE, GMAT, SAT or TOEFL. The best tutoring companies have veteran teachers available to work with any student, regardless of their need or knowledge level. You can get short-term assistance or coaching in a regular course on a specific subject. Compared to in-person tutoring, online companies offer virtual presence of a teacher. With technology solutions available today, tutors are able to interact with the student in realtime. Tutors can guide the student every step of the way as he or she learns the concepts and starts using them.

Benefits for Gifted students as well as Students with Special Learning Needs

It is not often that you can access a learning framework that is beneficial to students across the board. Gifted students are able to satisfy their special knowledge needs with the guidance of a tutor who has knowledge beyond the regular curriculum. Any questions that arise in pursuing these additional concepts are easily resolved through the intervention of the tutor. Combined with the access to knowledge provided by the Internet, there are no limits to what students can learn. Students with learning disabilities and other disadvantages can have custom-designed coursework to achieve learning goals. A tutor is there to guide and provide support as necessary. For the large majority, in the middle, a tutor can help clarify any questions, ensure the concepts get deeply ingrained in their minds and satisfy their curiosity on any issue related to the curriculum.

Academic Tutoring for Students with Learning Disabilities

Tutoring gives students with learning disabilities confidence.

Every student who struggles in school requires personal attention to stay at the same academic levels as peers. Students with learning disabilities have special needs that many classroom teachers do not have the time to see to with today’s larger classroom sizes. Your student can benefit from the one-on-one attention provided by a highly qualified tutor from a tutoring agency that conducts thorough background checks on tutors and matches students to the most appropriate tutor. Tutors provide academic assistance in several ways.

Subject Matter Reinforcement

If your student is struggling in a particular subject area, a tutor can provide the reinforcement needed for him to learn. By reviewing the material over and over again, using techniques for his specific learning disability, he has a better chance of retaining the necessary information. Tutors with a degree in special education can provide customized tutoring sessions for your student.

Homework Help

Students with learning disabilities get easily frustrated when working on homework assignments. That frustration can cause them to lose interest in schoolwork. A tutor can keep students motivated through on-going and honest encouragement. When a student begins to complete homework assignments correctly more often without help, he feels better about himself and school in general.

Study Habits

While helping students with homework and reviewing class test results, tutors provide tips and techniques to help students establish study habits. It is important students develop strong study skills as early on as possible. However, older students with learning disabilities can still learn ways to improve study skills. Study habits can help students who choose to attend college after high school.

Confidence Building

The personal attention a student with learning disabilities receives from a tutor can do wonders to bolster his self-esteem. With every academic achievement, even a small one, he feels more confident in his academic abilities. Tutoring is about more than the academics, it is about helping students be better students. And, that involves them being more positive about school and their future.

Effective tutoring for students with learning disabilities requires a compassionate and understanding tutor. It is important that tutoring takes place in a location that is comfortable for the student. With the right environment and tutor, there is no reason students with learning disabilities cannot excel academically.

Getting the Most from In-Home Tutoring if Your Child has Learning Disabilities

Students with learning disabilities can benefit from in-home tutoring as well as routine homework time.

Students with learning disabilities can benefit from in-home tutoring as well as routine homework time.

Homework is intended to be review for children learn in school. By practicing new concepts and principles, children are better able to remember and apply them. For students with learning disabilities, homework time can be frustrating. In-home tutoring is an excellent way to help your child complete assignments and build on knowledge learned in the classroom.

But you should not rely 100% on in-home tutoring to help your child. There are ways you can turn homework time into a success even if the tutor is not present.

Make a Homework Calendar

With the help of your child’s teacher, establish a homework calendar for your child with columns for the day’s assignments, your comments and the teacher’s notes. Make sure that your child comes home with the calendar every evening and returns it to his teacher the following day at school.

Prepare In/Out Folders

Get two folders of different colors and label one “Homework In” and the other “Homework Out”. Explain to your child that all assigned tasks for the day go into the “in” folder to bring home. Teach your child to place all completed homework into the “out” folder every evening to hand in to his teacher the next morning.

Establish a Routine (and Stick to It!)

Children with learning disabilities thrive on consistency. Fix a set time and place for homework and stick to this schedule as much as possible. Abrupt changes in routine may upset your child and distract her from doing her homework.

Divide and Conquer

Review the homework with your child first before starting. If your child has a short attention span, break the homework down to manageable chunks that your child can work through one at a time without being easily frustrated.

Adapt Homework to Your Child

No two homework assignments are the same. Adapt the task to your child’s ability to finish it alone or with your help. Depending on child’s specific disability, begin with easy homework to build her confidence. If your child loses interest quickly, then get longer homework out of the way first before taking a break.

Know When to Stop

There’s a limit to your child’s ability to concentrate, especially at the end of a long school day. Take short breaks for your child to recharge and recuperate. If she keeps hitting roadblocks, then it’s probably time to call it a day. Make a note on the homework calendar informing her teacher of the situation and revise the incomplete homework another day.

Make Homework Accommodations

There are times when you may need to make certain accommodations to assist your child with her homework. Read an assignment to her or explain how to work out a math problem according to what she’s learned in school. Focus on the importance of understanding the lesson instead of simply getting her homework done.

Ensure Open Communication

Have regular meetings with your child’s teachers to keep abreast with her learning problems in school. Being aware of your child’s struggles is half the battle won. If you see little improvement in your child, don’t hesitate to ask for extra help through tutors or education specialists.

Following these recommendations help leverage the benefits of in-home tutoring. Your child can meet or exceed academic goals when everyone works together!