FAQs about tutoring for kids who learn and think differently

At a glance

  • Tutors provide extra instruction outside of the classroom that can help your child work on different skills.

  • There are different kinds of tutoring.

  • Some tutoring centers offer specialized services for kids with dyslexia.

If you’re thinking about getting a tutor for your child, there are lots of factors to consider. That includes cost and qualifications. Here are answers to frequently asked questions about tutoring and kids who learn and think differently.

What types of tutoring are there?

Tutors provide extra instruction, outside of the classroom, that can help your child work on different skills, prepare for tests, and get better grades. Tutors are often former or current teachers. Sometimes they’re older students skilled in certain subjects, such as geometry or biology. There are also online tutoring services and learning centers that hire certified teachers to provide tutoring.

Some types of tutoring focus on specific areas such as remedial instruction or test prep. But not all tutors specialize in working with kids who learn and think differently. Depending on your child’s needs, you might want to consider using an educational therapist or a teacher instead of a tutor.

Learn about the pros and cons of different tutoring options.

What is an educational therapist?

An educational therapist is specially trained to work with kids who learn and think differently. Not all educational therapists are teachers. Psychologists, occupational therapists, and speech-language therapists may also provide educational therapy services. The therapist will work with you and your child’s teachers to come up with a plan to address your child’s needs.

An educational therapist may work on school subjects with your child as part of an overall learning plan to address skillbuilding. But the main goal is to teach your child strategies to become a more effective learner. That means the therapist closely monitors your child’s progress. The therapist may change teaching strategies, if necessary, so that your child develops the skills to become a successful and independent learner.

Read more about the difference between a tutor and an educational therapist.

Can a tutoring center help with dyslexia?

If your child needs help with issues that arise from , it might be better to seek out an educational therapist or a reading specialist. The tutors at many tutoring centers might not have specific training to work with kids who have dyslexia.

However, there are some centers that offer specialized services for children with dyslexia. For example, there are 50 or so Children’s Dyslexia Centers in 13 states. The centers provide free tutoring for students who have been formally evaluated for dyslexia. The tutors at these centers are trained in multisensory approaches that help with dyslexia.

Find out what to look for in a tutor if your child has dyslexia. And see examples of multisensory techniques for teaching reading.

Do schools pay for tutoring or educational therapy?

In most cases, a public school will not pay for private educational therapy. However, the federal Every Student Succeeds Act allows states to spend money on free tutoring in struggling schools. But it’s up to the state.

Some community groups may provide free tutoring. For instance, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America has an afterschool program with homework and tutoring help. Libraries and other local groups may also tutor kids for free. These programs are often limited to low-income or disadvantaged students, and the quality of tutoring may vary.

Is an “executive functioning coach” a type of tutor or an educational therapist?

Technically, an “executive functioning coach” is not a tutor. This type of coach may be a psychologist, a social worker, or an educational therapist. The coach works with kids to improve their , such as learning to plan ahead and organize their work space and belongings.

This type of coach, sometimes called an organizational coach, can also work with your child on setting goals, prioritizing, problem-solving, and keeping track of their progress. The coach will work to build a trusting relationship with your child. This can help your child feel more comfortable taking risks and learning new ways to approach problems.

How can I find a tutor?

First, figure out the area in which your child needs extra help. You can also:

  • Ask your child’s school for recommendations.

  • Call local children’s hospitals and colleges to see if they have a list of providers.

  • Contact the Association of Educational Therapists or the National Institute for Learning Development. Both organizations keep lists of certified educational therapists.

See a list of questions to ask potential tutors. And, get tips on how to help your child’s tutor and teachers communicate.

Key takeaways

  • Some states have Children’s Dyslexia Centers that provide free tutoring.

  • Some states may offer free tutoring to kids in struggling public schools.

  • Check with local and national groups for a list of educational therapy providers.


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