SEN. Special Education Needs. This is a huge umbrella covering many different issues; everything from ADHD and Dyslexia to ASD. With this umbrella usually comes the need for some kind of extra help in formal education. Of course, the government offers help and after reams of paper and long waits, students can get extra classes to help with specific things like dyslexia, as well as scribes and classroom assistants. These things are great, but they still require one thing: to learn at the same pace as everyone else, in the same environment.
The dyslexic student may take a while to read something, and will be slower in answering. The ADHD student may have trouble staying focused in a large classroom with a lot of distractions. The ASD simply may not handle general classroom chaos, and will need to go somewhere quiet. These are general examples, but each one leads to the students missing out on instruction and/or classroom practice.
I am often asked if I tutor “SEN kids”, and I happily say yes. My approach to all students is the same. They are individuals with certain needs, and my job is to help them understand their coursework. Working with SEN students just takes a little bit more time, and often a lot of patience. Students may fidget, want to get up and walk around… and that is okay! They’ve likely spent the previous 6 hours being forced to sit still! Frustration may come very quickly, and I have to be prepared to switch topics, change direction, or even take a short break. If a student does not understand a topic how it was presented at school, I have to be ready with other approaches.
The biggest part of tutoring SEN students is simply getting to know them. Tutoring shouldn’t be stressful or “boring”, but helpful and as engaging as possible. Each student has their own ways of thinking, of processing, and of coping. The more I learn about them, the better equipped I am to help them learn. So if a student wants to sit upside-down in a chair while answering spelling questions..fine! If someone is super-excited about a video game and wants to talk about it…fine! That’s a great break between topics. And if a student has had enough of people and wants to sit in a play tent outside with me and chat, that’s fine, too.
Tutoring SEN kids can be a roller-coaster. There are breakdowns and bad days. I have to be flexible and sensitive, while trying to get them to learn just one more thing. The most important thing to remember is that these students are NOT “stupid” or “slow”, but just handle the world a bit differently. And some of the best rewards are the smiles on the parents’ faces as they see their child proud of themselves for doing well in school.
Have any questions? Contact Me!