Category Archives: Tutoring Foster Care Students

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.

Education Pitfalls of the Foster Care System

Tutoring can help address education gaps for students in foster care.

The U.S. foster care system is designed to protect the general welfare of our children.  And it does a pretty good job making sure kids who are removed from their parents are placed in safe homes, receive clothing, and eat regularly. Other aspects of a child’s well-being often become secondary as children are unable to safely return home and experience multiple out-of-home placements.  The interruption of a child’s education when placed in foster care comes with a high price.

In “The Fleecing of Foster Children,” the Children’s Advocacy Institute and its partners details the educational outcomes of children in our foster care system.  Children removed from their homes often become immediately disadvantaged because their education is interrupted.  It can be challenging to find a foster placement in the same school district the child currently attends.  In addition, the removal from their parents care is traumatic.  Children take time to adapt to new schools and foster environments.

The picture is even starker for children who live in more than one foster care placement.  They soon lag several grade levels behind their peers.  Public school systems are already over-burdened and simply do not have the resources to pay special attention to these children.  It is not uncommon for them to completely fall off the radar of teachers.

Less than 3% of foster children actually earn a college degree. Not even half will be employed by the time they are 24 years old.  All of these factors combined mean that adults who were in foster care as youth have disproportionately higher levels of unemployment, arrest, and suicide.  Incredibly, more than one-third of this population will be homeless at some point, often when they age out of the foster care system.

Because education is the foundation of a financially secure future, many state and private foster care agencies are placing more emphasis on the education of children in their care.  To this end, they hire case workers and school liaisons to make sure children are attending school and are being assessed to determine current achievement levels.  Private tutoring services are secured to help close the gap in their learning with the goal of bringing foster care children up to par with their peers.  This is the best way to insure foster children have a fighting chance after graduating from high school.

Why Private Tutoring is Important for Kids in Foster Care

Private tutoring helps foster youth catch up academically to their peers.

Children who end up in foster care for several years can face a tough time in many ways. There are various challenges that these kids have to face, and one of the key ones is keeping up academically. A solid education is important for all children but those who are in the foster care system face challenges that other kids do not have to worry about.

Amongst the challenges that foster children face when it comes to keeping up academically is the constant disruption caused by moving around. This can bring with it a drop in confidence and concentration levels, which in turn can have a severe negative impact on their learning abilities and education. This is where private tutoring can prove invaluable.

Ways in which private tutoring can help

There are a number of ways in which private tutoring can help to address some of the challenges that foster kids face when it comes to their education. Many foster children benefit from having private tutoring, enabling them to reap the results of a solid education they might otherwise have missed out on.

Some of the key ways in which this type of tutoring can help include:

  • Helping children to catch up: It can be very easy for kids in foster care to fall behind academically, often because of the constant disruption caused to their education due to moving around from one area to another. Private tutoring can help to bring kids up to speed academically and will enable them to catch up on their studies.
  • Focusing on specific needs: Some foster kids may find that they struggle with certain subjects or in certain areas as a result of having to keep starting over in new schools. Private tutoring will help to ensure that they are given additional support with subjects that they may be struggling with.
  • Restoring confidence in children: The confidence and self-esteem levels of a child in foster care can take a real battering as a result of all the moving around, and this can have a negative impact on their learning abilities and education. Private tutoring can help to restore confidence and aid learning.

One-On-One Tutoring

The fact that this type of learning offers one-on-one tutoring is another major benefit, as it means that the child is not vying for the attention of the tutor along with lots of other kids. Foster children who are moved around a lot may find it difficult to build a rapport with or engage with their regular teachers and may be less likely to ask questions or deal with areas of education they are struggling with. With one-on-one tutoring, the child is able to engage more with the tutor, which means they will find it easier to ask questions relating to their studies.

Education is Key to Success for Foster Children Aging-Out of System

Tutors provide supplemental education students in the foster care system need to successfully transition to adulthood.

The numbers paint a dismal picture for youth aging-out of the foster care system. Less than half will be employed by the time they are 24 years old. Nearly 25% have experienced homelessness since leaving the system. More than 75% of the young women will become pregnant at least once by the time they are 24 while more than 80% of the young men will be arrested by that age. Approximately 60% of the young men are actually convicted of committing a crime. A depressing picture by any account of children placed in a system that is supposed to have their best interests at heart.

Lack of basic education is the primary culprit that prevents former foster youth from succeeding as adults. Regardless of the age at which they are removed from their families and placed in foster care, their education is immediately interrupted. The average foster care child has over three placements throughout their life. Each new placement typically means a school change which translates into additional interruptions of their education. They get further and further behind. Soon they are performing several grades behind their peers.

Academic tutoring provides the support foster youth need to stay in and complete as much school as possible. Having a high school diploma or equivalent provides opportunities such as being able to get a job. The vast majority of youth who age-out of the foster care system before graduating from high school do not continue their education – they are focused on surviving. Resources exist in some communities to help these youth transition to independent living. But in other communities, they are on their own and that is a very scary proposition. They may not have contacts or know of places they can live and simply end up on the street.

A mere 6% of foster youth who age-out of the system earn a college degree by the time they reach 24. They are able to achieve this because they take advantage of the academic supports that are made available to them. Many have mentors who help them through the process. Often these mentors are tutors who assisted them during their high school years. It is not uncommon for a tutor to work with the same foster care students over multiple years. Tutors help youth close their education gaps so they are better prepared if they age-out of the foster care system.

Educational Tutorial Services Launches Crowd Funding Campaigns for Innovative Online Tutoring Program and Scholarships

Educational Tutorial Services launches crowdfunding campaigns to fund new online tutoring program and scholarships for private tutoring.

We are pleased to announce that we have initiated an aggressive crowdfunding initiative to secure additional funds for our online tutoring program. We also will be raising funds to help students who need intensive one-on-one tutoring. Today, we kicked-off our crowdfunding with an exciting Indiegogo campaign for InstantTutor. Our Fundly campaign targets scholarship funds for foster youth in need of private tutoring.

The learning platform of InstantTutor is easy to use and designed to meet the learning needs of foster youth. With real-time tutoring, students are able to get help with homework and complete supplemental assignments intended to bridge learning gaps that developed when their education was disrupted. InstantTutor is 508 compliant so that youth with visual impairments can get the help they need. We will offer free worksheets so students can continue to build skills.

Our state-of-the-art learning platform includes a variety of tools including an interactive whiteboard, desktop sharing, ability to save tutoring sessions, and live webinars. Our goal is to ensure every youth in care has easy and affordable access to academic supports. The following graphic shows a bit how the program works:

Learn more about our initiatives at Indiegogo and Fundly. Also, visit our YouTube channel for a demonstration of InstantTutor. Share this post with friends and family. Together, we can reach more youth in care and help them achieve their academic goals!

How Private Tutoring Can Help High School Students

Private tutoring can help high school students excel in school.

Students can benefit in many ways from private tutoring. High school students can get the extra academic support they need to take their achievement up a level. Private tutoring is an opportunity to get that edge you need to stand out when you begin to apply to colleges. You will find that colleges place significant emphasis on high school academic achievement so getting a high GPA can make the difference between getting into your first choice school and settling for a second or third choice. Private tutoring can also assist high school students improve standardized test scores.

High School Academic Performance

High school students frequently seek private tutoring to boost grades and to successfully complete AP classes. Honors classes are typically equivalent to college-level coursework. To maintain a competitive GPA, students turn to private tutoring to help develop organizational and study skills. These academic habits students develop in high school can give them a head start in college. Even if you do not need specific help with a particular subject, your tutor can give you extra homework to hone your academic skills.

College Admissions Test Preparation

A private tutor can help you prepare for a variety of college admission tests beginning with the ACT or SAT. Getting into top colleges and universities is highly competitive and most maintain test score requirements you must meet to be considered for admission. Tutors help students identify areas of strength and weaknesses. Together you will develop a plan of attack to shore up your strong areas while tackling the areas in which you need assistance.

College Coursework Preparation

If you have anxiety about college-level coursework, a private tutor can help you prepare for your college experience while you are still in high school. They will begin by making sure you are proficient in basic skills and core areas of study. If you want assistance to master specific subjects, private tutoring is the solution. You can learn how to balance your course load and learn new study methods to ensure your college experience is successful.

Tips for Helping Teens in Foster Care with Homework

Teens in foster care benefit from tutoring as well as structured homework time.

Teens in foster care benefit from tutoring as well as structured and consistent homework time.

It is common for youth in foster care to be behind their peers academically. Although younger children may be more willing to spend time on homework, teens in foster care may rebel against foster parents or guardians who try to get them focused on academic goals. In-home tutoring can provide the motivation teens need to do well in school. Tutors with experience working with kids who are several grades behind where they should be can boost a child’s confidence and get them thinking about their future.

However, a tutor cannot be with your foster child all the time. There are steps you can take to provide an environment conducive to learning. Here’s how foster parents and guardians can help teens with homework without turning these after-school study sessions into a dreaded war of wills:

Be Organized

Homework hour is all about making sure your teen has sufficient time to complete assigns while he still has energy. Make sure your chores are completed beforehand so she has your undivided attention if she needs it. Turn off the television and eliminate other distractions that can interrupt a teen’s concentration. Actions counter to these recommendations send a message to your child that homework isn’t a priority.

Be Consistent

Establishing a reliable routine is just as important as helping your teen with homework. Set a designated time and place for schoolwork. Have everything your child needs at hand, including reference books, a computer, dictionary, and writing paper. Your child has a limited attention span, so don’t waste it by having him hunt around for an eraser.

Take a Break

After school, give your teen some downtime before hitting the books again at home. Have a healthy snack while chatting about her day at school. Discover what she learned in class and if she faced problems during a particular lesson. Reassure her that homework reinforces learning. This is your opening to start the day’s assignments.

Learn the Lesson

Nothing frustrates a teen more than a difficult homework assignment and nothing annoys you more that not being able to help her. Take time to study the material before trying to teach your child how to find the correct answers. If you don’t understand the lesson, find someone who does. An in-home or online tutor can provide assistance when you need it.

Think Outside the Box

Learning should be fun. Change settings by doing homework at the library instead of at home. Experiment with various methods of imparting the same knowledge to your child and see which ones work best to help her understand her homework.

Limit Homework Time

Your teen has spent almost an entire day in school, learning many subjects in a closed classroom environment. At home, keep homework time between 15 to 20 minute increments. Forcing your tired child to spend longer than 20 minutes on homework may produce resentment against extra assignments and discourage learning in general.

Offer Constructive Feedback

If your child has a tough time with a particular task, be patient and suggest different approaches to the problem instead of berating his inability to find a solution. Remember that homework is practice for what your child has already learned in class. Go through the lesson with her briefly before taking another shot at the answer.

Monitor Progress

Keep tabs on your teen’s progress in school. His struggle with homework may point towards learning difficulties during class. Discuss the issue with his teachers or attend parent-teacher meetings to find out more about the teaching methods employed in school and ways you can help at home.

Tutoring can help teens in foster care catch up with their peers and prepare them for graduation. Contact us today if your teen needs tutoring!

Benefits of Academic Tutoring for Foster Care Students

Tutoring provides much needed academic assistance to children in foster care.

Children placed in foster care have already some kind of trauma whether it is abuse, neglect, or separation from their family. It is estimated that in any given year, nearly 500,000 children will experience a foster placement. Approximately 35% of children in foster care will spend at least two years there with at least one-third in the system for five or more years (U.S. Children’s Bureau 2012).

Positive education experiences can lessen the stress of out-of-home placements and familial separations. Unfortunately, school districts are typically not equipped to deal with the extra needs of foster care students. It is not uncommon for foster care students to have to change schools because of their foster placement. This is yet another way their education is interrupted. It does not take long for them to lag behind their peers. As a result, child welfare agencies turn to tutoring to help get these students back on their academic tracks.

Not only does tutoring benefit foster care students academically, but it rebuilds their confidence and self-esteem. Giving them the skills to control certain aspects of their future is incredibly empowering for these students. A qualified tutor with experience working with foster care students can provide behavior management tips so students can concentrate on their academics. Tutors can help students learn valuable organizational and study skills they can use in different settings.

Introducing yet another adult role model into the student’s life is an additional benefit. As an authority figure, the tutor can have a significant impact on the student. Tutors encourage students to do their very best. Even short periods of one-on-one attention can inspire students to achieve. They want to make their tutors proud. For students who change foster placements, their tutor is often the most consistent presence in their life.

An overarching benefit of academic tutoring is that it has the potential for improving life chances of foster care children. By closing their education gap, tutoring provides the stabilizing force these children need to become successful adults. They have a fighting chance to pursue higher education, get a good job, and raise a family. The alternative is a life rife with hardships including homelessness, extensive unemployment, addiction, and arrests. And this alternative is simply unacceptable.

How Foster Parents Can Get Elementary-Aged Students Interested in Science

Science homework does not have to be a chore for students or parents. Use expert recommendations to engage elementary-aged students in science.

Science homework does not have to be a chore for students or parents. Use expert recommendations to engage elementary-aged students in science.

Like math, science is a daunting subject for many children. Some feel intimidated while others are simply not interested. Parents often assume that they need to be rocket scientists in order to help children with their homework. In fact, foster parents can easily learn about science alongside their elementary-aged foster children when using the following methods:

Have Fun with Experiments

An easy way to solidify science concepts in your child’s mind is to capture her attention visually by running simple experiments at home. For instance, if your child’s science homework is about the change of an object’s physical state, help her understand this by showing how liquid transforms into vapor when you put a kettle of water to boil for hot chocolate.

Extend Science Lessons into Your Backyard

Show your child that what she has learned in school really exists. Point out the different clouds in the sky that affect weather changes (earth sciences), or help her identify the insects in your garden (life sciences) when you go out for a walk together. Helping your child with her science homework often requires taking class lessons outside the classroom.

Participate in Science Projects

Science projects are an effective learning method for any child. Test your child’s knowledge of underlying concepts by asking leading questions about the science projects assigned to her. Avoid building the projects for her. Instead, provide the materials she needs to create her project efficiently.

Use Mind Maps

Review the topic summary for the day’s science homework with your child before starting. Make sure your child knows what is expected of her when she addresses the task at hand. If needed, draw a colorful mind map linking critical points with key subject matters under that particular topic. Visualizing the topic in a mind map enables your child to pinpoint exactly where she may be having trouble when completing her homework.

Visit a Science Fair or Museum

Add science fairs in the vicinity to your calendar or take your child on a trip to the nearest museum to pique her curiosity in this subject. A major challenge when doing science homework with your child is to retain her interest in science as being more than just a subject to learn in school.

Play Interactive Science Games

Interactive science games are a great way to help your child with her science homework. Surf through the internet to find many free topic-related science games. Some games offer multiple choice answers that reinforce your child’s memory about a certain subject. For example, to go on to the next level in a game for life sciences, your child may be required to name the key features of an animal. If you are hesitant about going online, set a time every week for a game of science trivia with your child and the rest of the family.

Hire a Science Tutor

Sometimes children in foster care learn better from a tutor.  A science tutor can make homework time fun and exciting while help your foster child bridge identified learning gaps. Science tutors at Educational Tutorial Services are trained to help youth in care meet academic goals. Contact us today to learn about our in-home tutoring services!