Tutoring for ADD and ADHD

Image courtesy of Stock Images / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stock Images / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Academic tutors can be very helpful for students. But for students with ADD and ADHD, tutoring can be a blessing and a curse at the same time. Just because someone says he or she is a tutor does not mean that he or she is meeting the needs of your child. Find a tutor that understands the importance of supplementing a child’s education as opposed to supporting it makes all the difference in the world.

So what does this exactly mean? I honestly believe that most tutors want to help learners grow. But the benchmarks for success with a tutor lies directly with grades and less on overall academic performance. This sounds rather obvious, but if a child doesn’t improve grades, then a tutor is considered to be a waste of time and money. However, when a child improves his or her grades, the tutor is rewarded with praise and compensation. So does this mean that all academic tutors are in it for the money? Well, obviously a tutor does this for compensation. But does the idea of being successful lie strictly on how a child performs on a report card? With the pressures facing learners in school, it is unfortunately the way of the world.

But there’s a better way for parents to approach hiring a tutor. Improving grades should not be the main motivator. So I know what you’re probably thinking…

Jonathan, isn’t a tutor supposed to improve my child’s grades?

And the answer to this is ultimately yes. But if a child does not improve academic performance, grades will be a temporary success but not an indication of skill improvement. In most cases, tutors that strictly focus on grades aren’t helping your child develop academic skills that will carry over throughout one’s education. The same academic and performance issues will continue to appear. Individuals with ADD/ADHD can be manipulative. So there’s times where he or she can rely on the tutor to help fix a situation as opposed to building skills. This is why it is important to find the right fit for your child.

So, now that I’ve burst the tutoring bubble a bit, here are three questions you should ask a potential tutor…

  • What does a typical session look like?
    • This will tell you how much the tutor prepares for a student and what is involved with the process. If the tutor expects the student to bring work, there’s a good chance this relationship is more about work completion and less about content development. There’s nothing wrong with homework support, but it should be implemented as part of a plan of improving homework completion as well as being better prepared as bigger assignments, projects and assessments come along.
  • What experience do you have at the particular school?
    • I would hear out the potential candidate and see if he or she has worked with other students at the school. If this is the case, I would dig a little deeper and talk with parents and teachers to see how this person works. If the answer is a spike in grades before settling back in, chances are this person is more focused on grades and less on academic performance.
  • How do you measure my child’s success?
    • This is a very telling question. Not only is it important to ask this question, but hear what the tutor has to say. If he or she talks about grades, dig a little deeper and find out how he or she can and will improve these marks.

One last thing I cannot stress enough is price-shopping tutors. Just because a tutor is cheap doesn’t mean he or she is good. While I am not suggesting taking out a second mortgage for a tutor, be sure to ask all of your questions first before discussing cost.

For more information on my ADD, ADHD and Executive Functioning coaching, please visit http://www.adhdefcoach.com. In addition to working with clients in-person, I also work with clients remotely so please visit www.onlineadhdcoach.com for more information. To learn more information about some of the other services I provide, please visit http://www.carrolleducationalgroup.com and http://www.iepexperts.com. I can be found on Twitter at ADHDEFCoach. You can also find me on FacebookGoogle Plus and Tumblr. My good friend and fellow ADD/ADHD Coach Tara McGillicuddy invites me as a regular guest on ADD/ADHD Support Talk Radio. Feel free to email me at jonathan@adhdefcoach.com or call 773.888.ADHD (2343) with any additional questions.


  1. Anastacia Spencer says:

    I have a 14 year old son who is struggling in scholl who has ADHD. He doesn’t ask for help but I know he needs it. He was retained in the 4th grade a few years ago and I fear he may repeat the 7th grade. His grades are like a 26%-46% right now. My child needs help. Please respond…. some one

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