Tutoring LD Students

Tutoring a learning disabled student is not much different than tutoring any other student. It may, however, challenge a tutor to be more patient and creative. Learning disabled students are very intelligent, but they have trouble demonstrating it in the classroom because of a breakdown in some area of learning. Their listening skills are weaker than average, and they need more time to complete their work. Students with learning disabilities usually have the most trouble with organization of their papers, as well as spelling. A successful tutor will emphasize the learning process over the final product of the paper to a student with learning disabilities.

Facts About Students With Learning Disabilities

  • have average/high intelligence levels
  • large difference between Verbal IQ and Performance IQ
  • breakdown can occur in six areas: attention, perceptual-motor, memory, language, executive and reasoning
  • learn best through multi-sensory approach (visual, auditory, verbal, tactile)

Impact on Written Expression

  • spelling errors
  • limited vocabulary
  • lack of organizational structure in writing
  • weak reading and comprehension skills prevent student from developing a convincing argument
  • ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) negatively impacts writing through poor time management

Tutoring Students with Learning Disabilities

  • can not fix the problem for the student
  • must be patient (disability often slows things down)
  • do not rely only on language for explanations
  • be supportive and positive
  • focus on the learning process, rather than the final product
  • encourage tutee to rely on the process to gain independence

Tutoring Students with Learning Disabilities in Writing

  • emphasize that writing is a PROCESS
  • time is a major factor in quality
  • essays are structures that are built by the writer (visual)
  • pre-writing techniques are important, such as brainstorms, webbing, outlines, etc.
  • spelling and grammar should be corrected during editing
  • extra grammar work is very valuable (on internet, computer programs, etc.)

In order to tutor successfully a student with a learning disability, a tutor must emphasize that writing is a PROCESS. Show the student a diagram of the writing process, or have him or her draw it for you. If he or she does it often enough, the process will eventually become automatic. A tutor should make sure that he or she is not talking too much. He or she should make sure that the student is physically doing the work, to keep him or her involved.

For more tips on a successful tutorial, see The Successful Tutorial.

Created by Sarah E. Hervey, in consultation with Jessica Baldwin, Learning Resources Coordinator at Lynchburg College.