The Borten Institute
“Put your ear down close to your soul and listen hard.’-Anne Sexton
My many years working with children with learning disabilities, have taught me that parents are the experts on their children. Professionals may be the experts on the disability, but parents are the experts on the child. Parents have valuable insight into how their child thinks, or feels, or responds when learning new things. They are the most knowledgeable about how their child is impacted by a learning disability.
Based on this truth, parents are in the best position to determine which type of tutoring is the best fit for their child. The Borten Institute for Learning Disabilities has taken out the guesswork when it comes to paring types of tutoring and types of learning disabilities. Below are a few tips to consider when selecting tutoring services for children with learning disabilities. But, remember parents, “Put your ear down close to your soul and listen hard”- it is the truest guide in your decision making. Read on and be empowered!
Types of Tutoring vs Types of Learning Disabilities
Online Tutoring vs In-Person Tutoring
In this year of COVID school closures, parents witnessed up close how well their child learns attending school online vs in person. In numerous parent consultations, I heard statements such as, “He does better with someone next to him”, or “she does better in class.`` Learning in-person lends itself to understanding concepts more clearly because of something as simple as body language. The way teachers use voice inflections, facial expressions, and hand gestures all help to increase a child’s ability to understand concepts being taught; especially in instances of learning disabilities.
In-person tutoring is a great match for learning disabilities that impact a child’s comprehension. This can include but is not limited to:
● Physical conditions such as visual impairments and auditory impairments
●Behavioral conditions such as autism, ADHD, or emotional disturbance
●Learning disabilities in reading comprehension, math problem solving, and speech
However, some parents reported their children improved drastically while learning online. They attributed this progress to self-paced coursework, decreased demands for social interactions, and learning in a comfortable environment. Parents also championed the use of technology when doing class assignments. Online dictionaries, speech to text/text to speech software, and word processors all help to aid weakness in their learning.
Online Tutoring is a great match for learning disabilities that impact social skills, reading ability, and/or writing ability. This can include but is not limited to:
● Behavior conditions such as ADHD, anxiety, autism, and emotional disturbance
●Learning disabilities in basic reading skills, dyslexia, written expression, and speech
● For children identified as gifted
Individual Tutoring vs Group Tutoring
Now for the advantages associated with individual tutoring vs group tutoring. The most obvious advantage of individual tutoring is individualized attention. The tutee has the full attention and expertise of the tutor for the entire session. The undivided attention of an expert tutor is undoubtedly beneficial for children with learning disabilities. Another benefit is the tutor being able to customize and design the tutoring session to your child’s needs. This customized approach can really boost a child’s performance academically.
Individualized Tutoring is a great match for any child! But, it is especially beneficial for children with more severe learning disabilities. It is also ideal for students who have difficulty with peer interactions and social skills. This can include but is not limited to:
● Learning disabilities such as intellectual disabilities, severe cases of dyslexia, or children who have multiple disabilities
● Behavioral conditions such as severer cases of Autism, ADHD, and emotional disturbances
●Physical conditions such as severer visual impairments and auditory impairments
The advantage of group tutoring is peer interaction. There is a saying among educators that children teach children best. Discussion with peers who think like them and see the world from a similar perspective is a very valuable tool in learning. Not to mention other secondary benefits like turn-taking, leadership roles, and building self-confidence.
Group tutoring is a great fit for children with less severe learning disabilities and for children that are less than one year behind grade level. This includes but is not limited to:
●General math and reading disabilities, dyslexia, and speech impairments
●Behavior conditions such as mild cases of autism, ADHD, and emotional disturbance
● Physical conditions such as mild visual impairments and auditory impairments
Looking for tutoring services that fit the needs of a child with learning disabilities can be a challenge. But, with these tips and your great insight as a parent, we hope your search will be a little less cumbersome. But, remember parents, “Put your ear down close to your soul and listen hard”- it is the truest guide in your decision making!
For help with finding a tutor for children with learning disabilities, click here.
Private tutoring vs group tutoring. Independent tutors vs tutoring companies. Online tutoring vs in-person tutoring. There are so many options for tutoring services these days it can be overwhelming!
It is particularly overwhelming if your child has a learning disability.
Typically developing children with average attention spans, average reading abilities, or average social skills, have a plethora of tutoring options available to them. The tutoring industry as a whole is geared toward traditional learners. This is a gross oversight by the tutoring industry! But, The Borten Institute for Learning Disabilities wants you to be empowered. Here are a few tips to consider when looking for tutors for children with learning disabilities.
Finding A Tutor for Children with Learning Disabilities
Consider the Disability
It is recommended that you have general knowledge about your child’s learning disability. Find out what their unique set of needs are and how the disability condition impacts their learning. You want to be able to communicate those needs when speaking with prospective tutors.
For example, if your child has anxiety, be able to explain their specific socio-emotional and academic needs. Anxiety comes in many different forms. So, just saying “anxiety” does not give a clear perspective on the specific needs of your child. Overall, you want to have a clear understanding of how well they understand the disability condition and if they have the skill set to address your child’s unique needs.
Consider Asking A Friend
Sometimes the best recommendations for tutors may come from friends, teachers, and other associates in your concentric circle. Actively seek out parent groups and interest clubs surrounding topics that relate to your child’s disability. It very likely that a parent like you, is also looking for tutorials for their child who has similar needs as yours. Parent groups or interest clubs are typically located at community churches, counseling facilities, and even medical offices. Also, you are certain to find virtual groups on various social media platforms as well. Inquire about who they know, use, and trust. Sometimes the best recommendations are just one conversation or text message away.
Consider Tutoring Philosophies
Lastly, when considering individual tutors and tutoring companies, be sure to research their respective philosophies on education. Lots of different individuals and companies tout following educational philosophies that originate in a variety of regions across the globe.
For example, one popular tutoring franchise in Texas aligns closely with ancient Asian practices of education. Their beliefs are that children should be individualistic in their learning and explore learning material at their free will. They believe learning occurs in self-directed exploration and unguided discovery. Tutors at this company serve more like guides or facilitators, as opposed to teachers. This approach may be suitable for traditional learners or children without learning disabilities. But, this may not be the best option if your child needs a more structured approach or becomes easily overwhelmed. It is beneficial to research tutoring philosophies when looking for a tutor.
Consider the Cost
Last, but certainly not least, another main factor is cost. Nationally, the average cost for tutoring per hour is $60. Throw in conditions such as dyslexia, autism, or ADD and you are looking at paying upwards of $120 per hour! Tutoring for special needs learners can be 2x more expensive. Parents should not be penalized price-wise for needing academic services that traditional learners access at half the price! A few suggestions that may help curve cost are: considering using medical insurance where possible, decrease the frequency of sessions, or ask if there is a cheaper group rate available.
In summary, when seeking tutoring services for children with learning disabilities consider the disability condition, ask a friend, consider tutoring philosophies, and count the cost.
For help with finding a tutor for children with learning disabilities, click here.
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Spelling homework can feel more like a MMA cage fight or WWF wrestling match for some parents of children with dyslexia or other learning disabilities.
Wanna know how to do spelling practice at home without tears?
One way parents can practice spelling at home is with an approach called Multisensory Spelling Practice, credited to Orton-Gillingham and many others. This approach allows for engaging the brain by using all 5 senses to practice spelling – see it (visual), feel it (tactile), hear it (auditory) and move with it (kinesthetic).
Here are 5 steps to multisensory spelling practice to try at home with children who have learning disabilities.
1. Look and Listen
Get your child’s attention and point to your mouth while pronouncing the word. The child should be watching how your mouth forms the word.
Have the child mimic saying the same word, minding their mouth movement, tongue placement, and lip position.
3. Unblend and Blend
Have your child unblend, or separate sounds, in the word using their fingers. For example, saying the word “cat” we hear three sounds: /c/ /a/ /t/.
When each sound is said, one finger is used to represent each sound.
/c/ (1 finger up), /a/ (2 fingers up), /t/ (3 fingers up).
Now, blend those 3 sounds into one smooth word “cat”; while taking the fingers away in one swoop.
**It is important to sync sounds with finger movement in step 3**
Have your child write the word. They could also use magnetic letters, dry erase boards, salt trays or glue letter cutouts to add variety to this step.
Finally, show your child the correct spelling and compare their spelling in step 4.
Typically 8-10 words can be completed with these steps in about 10-16 minutes depending on the needs of the child.
Multisensory spelling practice is a great way to engage the brains of learners who need alternative ways to learn phonics. It is also a great way to make spelling practice at home more engaging without the MMA cage or WWF wrestling mat!
Now that virtual learning has become a common occurrence in many households across america, many parents are still adjusting to having a job and being a homeschool teacher all at the same time. Between Zoom meetings, Schoology assignments, and Canvas lessons; things can become overwhelming pretty fast!
It is important for new and experienced homeschooling parents to remember that self care is vital! When you're well, your children are well!
Here are some self care options, to stay fresh while you homeschool children and manage online lessons.
Face to Face or Virtual?
A question that has just about tormented parents of school aged children. The questions do not stop there.
Homeschool or micro school? Learning Pod or nanny?
So, much uncertainty looms on the horizon, but the one security we do have is structure.
For school aged children structure and a set learning schedule can give some semblance of comfort and stability.
Tips for Maintaining a Daily Learning Schedule:
-allow children a opportunity to help build the schedule to solidify their buy in early on
-maintain the same bedtime AND wake up time used on a school day
-and be sure to build in breaks and recreation activities into your schedule
Check out this sample learning schedule to keep you and your children on track during prolonged periods of virtual learning.
The Borten Institute for Learning Disabilities is looking to contract part-time tutors for students with learning disabilities. Contract tutors set their own schedule and tutor in their preferred subject areas.
Contract Tutors must be:
-must be a certified special education teacher
-must be currently employed by a local school district
For more details, email us.
To become a contract tutor, apply here.
This was me in 8th grade. I was well rounded, well behaved, and even took honor classes in Reading. However, you would never know by looking at this picture, the countless hours I spent staring frustrated at math homework or the anxiety induced nausea I felt walking into math class every day.
As I matriculated through high school, my math teachers would give me passing grades on math work I was not able to do. Primarily because they saw me trying and wanted to reward my effort. But that did not help me once in college algebra. I had to take the remedial course 3 times!! I never mastered the prerequisite skills in math because I did not have to! I was given passing grades by caring teachers who thought they were doing the right thing.
Is this your child’s story? Do you feel your child is getting passing grades, on skills they do not know how to do?
One tip on how to address this is to talk to your child’s teacher. Believe it or not, teachers form a special bond with their students. They see your child’s potential, they know your child has been working hard, and they just want to help. But, sometimes “helping” to pass students does more harm than good. Have an honest and open conversation with your child’s teacher about grading them based on their true ability.
Another tip would be to reevaluate your expectations. If you feel your child is receiving grades they did not earn, make sure you understand what skill is be graded. For example, if a first-grade student takes a spelling test and writes
instead of “sat”, a teacher may give full credit for this attempt. That is because developmentally letter reversals are common up thru 2nd grade. Teachers tend to not penalize children for underdeveloped skills. Reevaluating your expectations, may help ease your concerns, about the accuracy of your child’s grades.
Are you done testing? Will the student qualify? When is the ARD meeting?
Questions you will undoubtedly get this year as you start your new journey as an Educational Diagnostician.
It is exciting, right? You made it thru practicum (with a few tears), you passed the certification exam, and you landed job?!?! Whooo hooo!
But, when the celebration ends, there is still a job to do! You have invested the last 2-3 years of your life working toward the job you just landed. Are you prepared to start? Do you feel confident walking in on day one?
Whether you are or not, here are three practical tips to help you feel prepared and confident starting on day 1.
Tip #1: Put It On Your Calendar
If it is not on your calendar it will not happen. This is one of the most impactful statements I have heard since being an educational diagnostician. It means to be diligent about putting everything you intent to accomplish in a day, week, or month on your calendar. If you do not have it on your calendar, you will not get it done. It is a discipline that will lead to you being effective, efficient, and dependable.
Tip #2: Ask for Help
“Forget the mistake, remember the lesson.” An anonymous quote that rings so true. You will be on a huge learning curve this school year. All the course work you have completed over the last few years, can not completely prepare you for the job of an educational diagnostician. There are some things you will not know, until you are in the “thick of it”. When there are things you do not know how to do…ask for help! I suggest keeping a running record of questions you have on a notepad or in email. Then ask questions in a weekly meeting with a mentor or someone who can answer them.
Additionally, a lot of your learning will come on the hills of making mistakes! Some mistakes will be little and some will be huge. But do not beat yourself up about these mistakes! Forget the feeling that comes with making a mistake (feelings of inadequacy, embarrassment or shame) and remember the lesson. Remember the right way to proceed the next time you encounter the situation!
Tip #3: Control Office Traffic
Office traffic, people in and out of your office, a common reason educational diagnosticians do not get work done in a timely manner. You arrive to work at 8:00am with intentions of completing 3 hours of report writing that day. But at 8:30am a teacher pops in unexpectedly on her conference period and speaks to you for an hour about a troubled student. After which, you stare back at your report trying to remember where you left off but an assistance principal pops in unexpectedly at 10:00am. Before you know it, 3 hours have flown by and you have only written the same sentence 3 times in your report because of the constant disruptions. Set concrete office hours and display signage on your door that will let people know when you are available and we you are not available.
More practical tips like these are available on, The Borten Institute for Learning Disabilities website, in an online course entitled “ First Day Diag”. This is a set of 5 online courses that gives practical tips on how to:
Click here to check it out now.
The job of an educational diagnostician can be exceedingly difficult but is also very rewarding. We lead the charge in ensuring children have equal and equitable opportunity to access education so they can be all they are purposed to be. I believe this is some of the best work we will ever do on this side of heaven!
Congrats again on landing the new job, and I wish you much success your first year as an educational diagnostician.
Wearing a face mask can be difficult for typically developing children, but even more so for children with Autism or other sensory processing issues.
Sensory Processing can be defined as how the nervous system receives input from the senses and turns input into an appropriate motor and behavioral responses. Being over responsive or under responsive to these processes can result in sensory processing disorder.
For example, some over responsive or under responsive behavior to sensory input maybe as follows:
Use of a face mask for extended periods of time, can be challenge for students with sensory processing issues. Here are some strategies to support wearing a face mask by Mount Sinai Seaver Autism Center:
•Parent / sibling/stuffed animal as a model for wearing
•Make it “fun”
•Practice wearing at home
•Increase the amount of time worn each day
•Include child in the process
•Design, color, putting on
•Explore different fabrics
•Choose breathable, non-itchy fabrics
•Ear attachments (minimize pressure around the ear)
•Adult sizes vs Child sizes
The Seaver Autism Center also suggested mask modifications as shown below:
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“Summer Slide” also known as “Summer Learning Loss” is the loss of academic skill, a child loses, over summer break
Summer Slide Facts:
- As much as two months of learning can be lost over the summer.
- Summer learning loss is so common that teachers have to spend the first six weeks of a new school year reteaching old material.
- Summer slide accounts for as much as 85% of the reading achievement gap between low income children and mid to high income children.
Impact of COVID-19 on Summer Slide
Summer Slide is a significant issue this year for many reasons. One being that children have been out of school for several weeks due to COVID-19. These school closures, in addition to time out for summer, compounds the amount of academic skills children can lose. Additionally, children with learning disabilities who have not had access to accommodations and modifications for several weeks, may present with more significant loss in learning, as compared with peers who are non disabled.
Summer Slide Tips:
Please be sure to check out our future blog posts and follow us on social media for upcoming tips on how to overcome summer slide!!
Nikita Borten, M.ED