Students who spend the majority of their class time squinting to see the board, or straining their ears to hear what the teacher is
saying can quickly become lost and discouraged. Students with visual and auditory disabilities may be hesitant to speak up and ask for help in the classroom, because they are embarrassed or worried about what the teacher or other students may think of them.
A one on one tutoring session can be very beneficial for students who are falling behind in the classroom because they are having a hard time seeing or hearing the information being taught. As a parent looking for a tutor for your child, make sure whomever you choose knows these basic strategies that will work wonders for your child.
Working With Children With Visual Disabilities
- Face the student when talking to them. Sitting side by side will cause the student to have to look over at you and then back down at their paper, and the information being taught could be lost in the time it takes to readjust their eyes. Sitting directly in front of them makes it easy for them to see your mouth as you speak, as well as your facial expressions, which will help them understand then context of the lesson
- When supplying worksheets or supplementing text books for the lesson, find versions that are written in large print. When writing on a board or demonstrating an example on the paper, use large numbers and dark coloured ink
- Use talking calculators or other technology that allows the student to hear the information that has been input.
- When it comes to the physical tutoring space, keep things consistent. Keep the space well lit, and once the student has become familiar with the set up of the room, don’t make any changes. Moving furniture could throw students off and make them feel disoriented.
- Encourage students to wear their glasses/contacts that help them see. Help them feel comfortable with whatever it is they required to improve their vision
- Offer to have the tutoring session recorded so they can replay the lesson and listen to the instructions and explanations when they are studying on their own.
Working With Children With Auditory Disabilities
- When working with students who are deaf or hard of hearing, it is very important to keep your hands away from your face when you’re speaking. They will rely heavily on reading your lips, and nothing should be in the way to obstruct their view. Chewing gum is also distracting and can prevent students from understanding what you are saying
- For students who are using a sign language interpreter, maintain eye contact with the student when talking to them. Talking to the interpreter can make the student feel like they are “out of the loop.”
- When an interpreter is translating for the student, maintain comfortable body language and eye contact with the student. Remember that the lesson is between you and the student, and the interpreter is just there to relay the information
- Visual aids are key. Point to words as you read them, have the student watch you as you write down the steps to a problem.
- Don’t be afraid to communicate with the student via writing. Writing notes back and forth can be fun, helps with their reading/writing skills, and allows you to communicate in a way that builds trust and shows that what the student wants and needs is important to you.
- Plenty of repetition will be necessary, but be sure to repeat the directions the same way every time. Don’t give new examples or use new terminology when repeating directions, as this could confuse the student who is trying to hear and process every word you are saying.
- Take the extra step and learn some common words in sign language, if that is a way the student communicates. It will help you bond with the student and make it easier to understand when they need help. Knowing how to sign words and phrases like “I understand, I don’t understand, Explain again” can help both of you get through a lesson a little easier.
After a few successful tutoring sessions, students with vision or hearing problems with develop the confidence they need to participate more in the classroom. Encourage students with these disabilities to sit near the front of the classroom, always wear their glasses/hearing aids, and to not be afraid to ask the teacher to repeat something if they missed it. Students who work with tutors who take the time to teach according to their specific learning style and needs will be more confident to seek out these modifications in the classroom, which will result in better grades and a higher understanding of the lessons and concepts.