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Special Education & Learning Disabilities Resources: A Nationwide Directory

Finding the Right Learning Specialist to Tutor Your Child

by John Toker, M.Ed. LD www.johntoker.com
Naturally, individual instruction needs vary from person to person, and so may the skills of learning specialists. However, a commonality among all appropriate providers of customized instruction is a strong grasp of a wide range of teaching models. Focus on methodology for success more than a time-line for progress. Still, keep a time-line for incremental progress in mind. Specialists should be adept at working with other professionals who may also be needed to help their students. Parents and instructors should learn from each, while knowing who makes the final decisions. Learning issues should be opportunities for students to transform their strained, and different ways of absorbing information into fluently forming original ideas for problem solving. Identify skills that are essential to effective instruction.

Educators with years of proven experience will be well versed in a variety of learning models, and will be able to articulate what they are. They should have web sites that reflect their philosophy and methodology, which should be based off reliable sources. Examples of good citing include Piaget’s methodology and defining symptoms of diagnosis with steps to intervene that are consistent with findings from NIH, and prominent universities.

They should exude confidence in their teaching models; this signals a reason for hope to struggling students. Naturally, it’s the skills that are implemented that will further open a mind about breaking down learning barriers. You want the instructor to know that a poor self-image is based off many experiences, and that, in turn, there is a lot of work needed to undue it. This brings us to what pace should learning improvements take place.

I would choose an educator that is able to pinpoint specific learning issues and has a clear plan for how to address them, rather than having a set time line by which long term goals to overcome will be met. However, partial improvement should be measurable within a few months. Part of overcoming learning obstacles depends on the pace in which the brain matures, of which predicting is not an exact science. There are many other factors that impact how rapidly students may surpass learning blocks. Albeit, you should see progress in how your child’s views about his or her ability to learn, from my experience, within a month’s time. Keep in mind how progress relates to a team effort.

Look for instructors with information about their practice that is not only specific to directly serving your child’s needs, but inclusive of other professionals, such as psychotherapists, nutritionists, and ophthalmologists who may be needed for effective treatment. How else can you be confident that a specialist will know when to make referrals that address all of your son’s or daughter’s needs? Think about how your communication with the tutor impacts progress.

Although you should learn from instructors, you’ve seen your son or daughter in far more settings and circumstances than anyone else. Tutors should be responsive to your insights, while having cases of healthy debate. Part of success depends on parents feeling in control of the process; a hired expert should know this. Ultimately the parents’ insights about their child should be reflected in final decisions. Quality of life should be a focal point.

There is a delicate balance between facing fears of failure in schoolwork, and maintaining a quality of life. Instructors need to see the students as people first and their grades second. Those who feel respected in tone of speech and appreciated for their effort, respond best; it’s the process of trying that should matter more than grades. Be sure to ask a specialist about his or her views on test scores. Higher grades typically occur when people are partially distracted away from low grades by success in trying their best. The priority must be your child’s sense of self worth.

Although no one should be expected to resolve world issues, instructors should instill confidence in students by citing those who had similar issues in school and have done so. People need to know that learning issues, when addressed skillfully, just means learn differently. Instructors should see people with different learning styles as integral sources for contributing to our society. Tutors must be comprehensive in their work in order to meet students’ specific educational needs.

Look for learning specialists who illustrate confidence based off proven methodology and personal experience, while being realistic about how there will be occasional scholastic setbacks. Value the steps to overcoming learning gaps as more important than a time line to fill them. Students do perform best when tutors measure their level of effort more than their results. Comprehension branches out with a team effort. Find one that teaches you how to be more effective as a parent, while learning from you as well. Educators should see people with learning issues as untapped resources for humanity. You should feel a sense of compassion and enthusiasm from instructors, which centers on the general happiness of your child.

John Toker is licensed to teach people with learning disabilities in the Virginia public schools. He has a Master's Degree in Education with a Concentration in Learning Disabilities, K-12, and a Master's Degree in Psychological Services with a Concentration in Counseling. John has taught in Fairfax County Public Schools, and Montgomery County Public Schools. He teaches people who are diagnosed with learning disabilities on how to overcome their learning blocks, and has years of proven track record experience in helping his students overcome such issues.

John practiced as a licensed psychotherapist in Maine and Maryland.

He's written a novel, Conflicting Sanity, and is currently writing a book about how parents can help their children to overcome learning issues.

John Toker, M.Ed. LD, K-12, M.A.
240 506-3673

Disclaimer: Internet Special Education Resources (ISER) provides this information in an effort to help parents find local special education professionals and resources. ISER does not recommend or endorse any particular special education referral source, special educational methodological bias, type of special education professional, or specific special education professional.


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