What characteristics should I look for in a tutor who will be teaching a first grader with ADHD who struggles with phonics and reading?

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Lisa Friedman, Inclusive Educator, Religious School Director, teacher, wife, mom & friend

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I completely agree with the advice already shared in regard to specific skills for a tutor and the suggested organizations. However, I would also add that you want to find a tutor who is kind, patient and who genuinely loves children. You want someone who connects with your child and with whom your child will feel a connection. Consider having your child present at least for some portion of the interview and observe their interaction. You can learn a lot from tone of voice, body language, etc. In the end, children will most eagerly learn with someone with whom they have positive relationship. Good luck!

Jamie Martin, Assistive Technology Consultant for Students and Adults with Dyslexia

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To add to the answer that Jules provided:

The most qualified tutors that utilize a multisensory approach can be found through organizations that provide accreditation to their members. Two such organizations are the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators (AOGPE) and The International Multisensory Structured Language Education Council (IMSLEC). Both should be able to recommend qualified tutors upon request.

Jules Csillag, learning specialist & speech-language pathologist

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What an informed question!

Attentional issues (such as ADHD) often correlated with reading difficulties, partly because so much attention is required for reading (it's hard!).

Look for a tutor that has experience with a multi-sensory-based approach (such as , Orton Gillingham, Wilson, Preventing Academic Failure). Mutli-sensory instruction is research-validated, and it tends to be engaging (which will help with attention). It is also essential that their intervention be hierarchical, so every lesson builds on the previous one. Lastly, comprehension is always essential: some of the very basic phonics books can be boring, but deep or interesting questions are (almost always) possible. Make sure that you care about the content of the reader.

Experience with children with attentional issues is also a plus! Built-in breaks, shorter activities, and different types of activities are essential. Motivation and engagement does not just make for a more pleasant tutoring session, it also increases learning!

To learn more, read about the "The Seven Characteristics of Highly Effective Reading Teachers" (pages 7-15).

Nicole Eredics, Educator, Inclusion Specialist, Writer, Podcaster & Parent

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In addition to teaching strategies and resources, it is important to assess the enviornment that the tutor is working in. The learning environment has a huge impact on whether or not the child can focus in order to begin learning. Are there lots of bright colors, overhead lights or windows that can cause a distraction? What is the seating like? Is it a hard chair or something more comfortable? How noisy is the work space? Even the ticking of a clock can be a distraction for a child with ADHD. Finally, is the space organized? Are materials easy to find and use? The ability to be prepared and complete work can be a challenge as well. These are a few more things to think about, but can make a big difference! Good Luck!

Julie Gordon, Special Education teacher

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I agree with the above multi-sensory approaches. In addition, I would make sure that there is a behavior plan built in with incentives to work toward. This helps focus a student who is trying his or her best to stay focused. Additionally, I would look to see that the tutor is willing to build in breaks as your child is working. The mini-breaks will allow your child to focus for a longer period of time and build stamina.

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