Tutoring a Special Needs Niece or Nephew
is an Education Consultant for Special Needs, Art and Technology
Take this test:
Tutoring children is:
d. all of the above.
The reason to tutor a special needs child is to:
a. familiarize a child with concepts before they learn them in school
b. brush up on skills that need extra time
c. help a child with reading and/or math
d. all of the above
With all the news around kids testing scores statewide as well as the hype surrounding tutoring centers like Sylvan Learning or Kaplan, it’s no wonder that kids and families are stressed out just by the thought of tutoring. Recently, I called a tutoring service and asked them if they tutor reading to special needs kids and was told that they don’t, but that for an extra fee they would take it on. I asked if they had any special education experience and they said no and with that, I promptly hung up the phone. This tutoring service was willing to take my money -- more money than they get for tutoring an “average” kid -- and yet they had no experience tutoring a kid with special learning issues.
How a Savvy Auntie can help a special needs niece or nephew
Yes, tutoring special needs kids is expensive, time-consuming and can be boring if it’s not done right. Who does do it right? Could you, as a dotting Aunt, tutor your special needs niece or nephew? Well, probably not. Unless you are a special education teacher and familiar with a multitude of unique reading programs such as Orton-Gillingham or Wilson, then you are probably better off not “officially” tutoring. But, what you can do, is make learning and/or reading fun!
Here's an idea. Go to the bookstore with your special needs niece or nephew and pick out specific books that may help with phonics, have repetitive phrases or are just interesting. Read to your Kid With Special Needs (KWSN) because reading to a child for enjoyment is just as important as reading for learning in school. It shows the KWSN that reading can be enjoyable and that you can have a super moment together. It promotes discussion of the book that can be great for language retention and comprehension. You can even take a more difficult book and read it chapter by chapter -- just the two of you -- and then it becomes a unique experience. If you pick a more well-known book like Holes or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, then you can round out your reading time by watching the movie together.
Finding a qualified tutor
You can also help identify a good reading tutor for your special needs niece or nephew. One tip is to call the local public school and ask if there are any special education teachers. Contact them to see if they might be interested in tutoring the KWSN. Qualified special educators are trained in certain specific techniques to help special needs kids learn. They often have incredible patience, special tips, and even academic materials to share with you and your special needs niece or nephew.
This back-to-school season, whether you choose to help on your own, or help find a qualified tutor for your niece or nephew, please consider saying YES to tutoring because it helps children in so many ways. But, don’t feel like you have to do it yourself. Your job is to show your special needs niece or nephew that learning can be inspiring and you, as a Savvy Auntie, can inspire a love of education.