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Tutoring for Special Education Students

Parents of students living with learning difficulties qualify for various academic accommodations. These include things that classroom teachers can incorporate into daily lesson plans, like extra time to complete homework and ability to take tests in a quiet location, to things that state education laws delegate to specially trained teachers, aides, and nurses, such as care for students with feeding tubes. This article summarizes the kinds of learning differences that most tutors can handle and when parents should seek a qualified Special Education tutor.

What most tutors can handle

Many tutors are current or former teachers, college professors, or substitute teachers. State teacher licensing laws require teaching candidates to receive Special Education instruction and experience before granted a teaching license. They also have practical experience helping students who are living with a variety of learning differences.

Licensed teachers have experience accommodating students living with ADD/ ADHD (Attention Deficit Disorder/ Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), who are Emotionally Disabled (ED), Emotionally Handicapped (EH), Dyslexic, and who live with some forms of Autism. They usually attend Special Education meetings and help create 504 and IEP (Individualized Educational Plan) plans for their students. This makes former teachers and professors a parent’s best choice (aside from licensed Special Education teachers, of course) to tutor children living with learning differences.

If you are searching for a tutor with any of the learning differences listed above, explain the academic accommodations written in their current 504 or IEP plan. Tell the tutor the specific diagnosis that qualifies them for the Special Education services they receive. Also, tell them about any special circumstances surrounding their diagnosis, such as anger management or self - harm issues. Explain how their needs are addressed at school and whether or not the method is working. This gives them an idea of what has worked in the past, what’s not been as successful, and how to plan lessons with your child.

As a licensed teacher, parents have told me that they “feel bad” telling me about their child’s Special Education needs. This always puzzled me until a parent explained that they felt they were “burdening” teachers with “extra responsibilities” when we have so much to do and think about every day. While this helped me understand their point of view, I do not consider accommodating student learning differences a “burden”. It’s part of teaching and is something that I feel enriches our classroom. It helps me to remember that all students learn differently, and that “different” does not mean “good” or “bad”; it just means “different”. It encourages me to write creative lesson plans that include all student differences, every day.

When to find a trained Special Education teacher

Students living with certain medical conditions may need a “team tutoring” situation to meet their learning needs while ensuring they are medically safe. For instance, elementary students living with medical conditions that require tube feedings or tracheotomy care need a nurse or parent present at each tutoring session. However, the tutor may not need additional Special Education training to meet their academic needs. If your child is living with a medical condition that requires a skilled nurse or aide, but is otherwise able to attend classes with their peers and complete assignments, your tutor probably does not need to be trained in Special Education.

However, if your child is living with serious learning difficulties that require enrollment in self – contained Special Education programs, you will need a trained Special Education tutor to meet their academic, social, and emotional needs. This includes students who are in “pull out” programs during which they may attend two classes a day with same - age peers and go to Special Education classrooms the rest of the day. Parents can talk with Special Education teachers at their child’s school to get ideas about where to begin their search for a qualified tutor. In some cases, your child’s teacher may agree to tutor your child at little or not cost.

Choosing a tutor for Special Education students can be challenging. Parents may be unsure how to find qualified tutors for their children. Current and former teachers and college professors are trained to accommodate these students and have experience meeting their academic needs. These tutors are fully qualified to accommodate students living with ADD/ ADHD, ED, EH, Dyslexia, and most Autistic children. Parents should seek licensed Special Education teachers if their student has a more complicated learning need requiring enrollment in a “pull out” program. However, students whose IEP or 504 plans include accommodations primarily relating to medical issues do not need to hire a tutor with Special Education training. Instead, they can use a combination of supervision by a parent, nurse, or aide during tutoring sessions and a regularly qualified tutor to address their academic needs.

I hope you found this article helpful. Please take a minute to leave a comment, Like this post on Facebook, or Tweet the post via Twitter using the buttons on the right side of my blog page. If you have questions about whether a tutor is right for you or if you would like advice for your unique situation, feel free to E-mail me using the “E-mail Jeff S.” button on my Wyzant tutor home page.