If your child is falling behind in school, tutoring has probably crossed your mind a few times. Tutors, whether they are private individuals or work through a franchised learning center, may be either highly beneficial for your child or a disappointing use of time and money. When it comes to tutoring and dyslexia, finding the right fit for your child may take time and trial and error.
Learning center franchises
The main franchised tutoring corporations are Sylvan Learning Centers, Kumon, and Huntington Learning Centers. Their focus is helping students work up to grade level or learning special skills such as effective studying. They don’t necessarily specialize in teaching students with dyslexia, as they all have some degree of standardization (with a fair amount of personalization). However, the teachers are usually certified by the state, and often you will have a choice of how your student is taught: online, over the phone, or in person (usually in small groups).
These learning centers typically test your child to see whether he or she is working at grade level, especially in math and reading. They will prescribe a curriculum to help your child move up to grade level and give you an expected timeline for that to happen. If your child tests at or above grade level, the center will help her progress at her own pace. Your child may also be tested to find his learning style, which will aid in his progress.
You may or may not have the option to have these certified instructors help your child with homework.
While tutoring on the phone or computer can be effective, I personally believe that all dyslexic children need one-on-one teaching from a tutor. Teaching students with dyslexia is best accomplished in person. There is no greater encouragement than a high-five or a big smile with praise, which you can’t get from a computer. When students work with a tutor, they receive the validation and acknowledgement they need to build their self-confidence.
Private tutors come from all walks of life, and you’ll find them all around you. Your neighbor may be a former engineer, so he can help with math. An older sibling understands your child’s learning challenges better than most strangers would. So would an older family member or former teacher.
As with the learning centers, a private tutor may not have much experience in the specifics of teaching students with dyslexia, but they will likely have the patience and the supportive demeanor that are the most important factors in tutoring.
5 steps for success with tutoring
1. If you know other parents of dyslexic children, ask for tutoring ideas from them first, and then ask teachers and administrators. Find a Facebook support group for children with dyslexia in your area, and post a question.
2. Don’t take the first one who responds. Interview at least three tutors, if possible, and check references. Take your child to the nearest learning center and let her watch a session, if possible. Make sure to involve your child in the decision.
3. If you decide on a learning center, ask that your child have a session with at least three different instructors to see if any are a good fit. If you find one, ask if your child can have that teacher consistently.
4. Schedule tutoring at a time when your child is alert and open to learning.
5. If you have a private tutor, watch a session occasionally without your child or the tutor seeing you, if possible. The tutoring should be in a quiet place free from distractions, and the tutor and your child should be engaging each other throughout the session.
A key to teaching students with dyslexia is repetition. Your child’s brain will speed up and function better if the tutor spends time repeating and reinforcing learning. Just like learning multiplication tables, short bursts of productive activity are far better than long, drawn-out tutoring sessions.
If you have questions about finding tutoring, please let me know. I’ll be happy to help you determine the best learning environment for your child.