Tutoring vs Therapy

April 24, 2017 by admin in Speech Therapist

Have you ever wandered what the difference is between a therapist and a tutor? It can be difficult to know which one is right for your child – does he need extra tuition or does he need therapy? Here’s a quick overview of the key differences, from my perspective, that may help you decide which one would be better for your child (I’ll refer to speech and language therapy, for obvious reasons):

A tutor usually addresses specific curriculum areas with the aim to catch up and plug any gaps in content knowledge. Tutors build confidence and support children to understand the content of the subject through working at a slower pace, repeating information and checking in regularly with the child. Tutoring is usually done one-to-one so the child receives support that is tailored to their specific knowledge base / gaps in knowledge – the tutor will usually follow the school’s curriculum. Once a child has received tutoring in a specific area of the curriculum, he / she should be back on par with his / her peers in class and the teacher can continue the job of teaching.

A speech and language therapist is trained to administer assessments which find out the probable reason your child has fallen behind in their school work. Without focusing specifically on the content of the curriculum, a speech and language therapist will focus more on the unique profile of your child – his strengths and weaknesses and how these impact on learning, behaviour and interaction. Finding the root cause of the problem then allows the therapist to provide tailored intervention which targets the underlying weakness. Speech and language therapists then support children to identify and use strategies that can be adapted across the curriculum to enhance their learning potential in all subject areas (as well as in social situations). A speech and language therapist will also work closely with the teaching staff to ensure they are aware of the child’s profile and how to adapt teaching to give him/her the best possible chance to succeed.

Let’s take a a real life example: Ahmed is a child in Year 4 who has recently started acting out and falling behind in his school work. His parents send him to extra lessons / tutoring to catch up on his classwork and ensure he doesn’t fall further behind. This is successful and Ahmed does well in his class tests. However, his behaviour continues to worsen and if left without support, he rarely completes work and often doesn’t even start the set work! His school and parents grow more and more concerned – Ahmed is getting extra help outside school and his teachers are trying their best too! What is going wrong? His school have bought in the services of a speech and language therapist and he is then sent for a speech and language assessment. A Words First Therapist will be able to assess spoken and written language and provide a comparison. The therapist completes a battery of assessments and finds that:

a) Ahmed’s receptive language is below average and

b) his processing speed is slower than his peers resulting in

c) limited reading comprehension ability.

This may explain his recent frustration, disengagement and poor behaviour – the poor lad has tried his best for 4 years of education and been able to mask his problems quite well but is now tired, frustrated and worried that there is something ‘wrong’ with him! If he can get into trouble, at least he doesn’t have to be exposed for not understanding what he hears and reads!

Armed with this knowledge, the therapist can show Ahmed WHY he is struggling (i.e. he is not ‘stupid’) perhaps using something like our Reading and Language Circuit Model™ and HOW to overcome these problems. Through one-to-one or group therapy the therapist will show Ahmed useful tips and strategies that he can use in ANY subject or social situation for a better chance to understand and succeed. The therapist will also talk to the teacher and provide him/her with useful strategies to adapt his/her teaching to suit Ahmed.

Usually, we see behaviour and engagement start to increase when children understand their profile and have some tips and strategies they can use independently across the curriculum. Couple this with high quality tutoring in specific curriculum areas and children will no longer be left behind.

I hope this is useful, if you are worried about your child, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We understand you may have a lot of questions. We will always have the time to answer them and point you in the right direction, considering whether tutoring or therapy would be better for your child! Call Words First on 0208 0501491 or the Kids First Therapy team on 0208 4070746.

written by Amanda Davis MSc, MA, BSc (hons)

Speech and Language Therapist and Dyslexia Specialist