Students with Individualized Education Plans (IEP’s) absolutely benefit from tutoring sessions throughout the school year and through the summer months. However, choosing the correct tutor is the most important part of the process.
Students with IEP’s learn in unique ways and the educational approach should be personalized, targeted, and consistent. There are two very important aspects of tutoring students with specialized needs that must be considered prior to enrolling your child in tutoring classes.
First, students with special needs should have instruction that is differentiated. Meaning, students should be provided with content specific information using various modalities. The use of visual, auditory, and kinesthetic (hands on) instruction should be used during instruction. Students with IEP’s benefit greatly from variety within the instructional framework and Special Education teachers are specifically trained to use such techniques. The best tutor for a child with special needs is a licensed special education teacher, preferably with a Masters Degree or higher in the field.
Second, students with IEP’s benefit greatly from both consistency and structure. The ideal tutoring situation for students with IEP’s would include a long term program that rebuilds missing fundamentals and, at the same time, introduces new material. Committing to a longer term program may seem cost prohibitive, but it is the best way to ensure progress and growth. Any tutor or tutoring company that requires full payment up front for a long term program should make you cautious. Make sure your child is comfortable with the tutor after a minimum of 6 to 10 hours of instruction. Once you and your child have established a reasonable comfort level then explore scheduling and pricing for a long term program. Such a program should be a minimum of 4 months with a recommended 2-3 hours of instruction per week. Additionally, it is important to make sure your child will not work with a different tutor week in and week out. If you make a long term commitment to a center they should make a long term commitment to you and your child as well.
It is unrealistic to expect significant process in only a few weeks. Therefore, it is highly recommended that when choosing a tutor for a child with special needs that structure, consistency, and longevity are as much a part of the package as the quality of the instruction.