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Tutoring Students Who Are Differently-Abled: ADD

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Tutoring Students Who Are Differently-Abled: ADD

All students are entitled to a great education, and deserve every opportunity to excel. Students with disabilities can be helped in a variety of different ways that will help them understand and improve their grades and self-confidence in the classroom. A successful tutor will know the manipulatives, activities, language, concepts and techniques that will help a differently-abled student succeed.


A common issue many students is struggling with ADD or ADHD. This affects their focus and ability to concentrate for long periods of time. In order to serve them well, tutors can implement a few of these strategies to ensure students get the most out of their study time.


  • Use both written AND verbal directions. It may be easier for a student to comprehend what is expected from them when they can hear it and see it. Involving more than one of these senses increases their ability to retain the information.
  • When giving an example, do it more than once. Repetition can be helpful for their comprehension and understanding
  • When teaching abstract ideas, use charts, maps or graphs. These visual aids help students to see the information provided and helps them really see the numbers they are working with and how the numbers work together to create the solution.
  • If the student seems to be getting antsy or is having a hard time sitting still for the lesson, get up and move around! Role-playing is a great way to keep the learning momentum going and allows the student to move around. Sometimes students with ADD are trying so hard to focus on sitting still that is nearly impossible to focus on the task at hand. Eliminate the stress of sitting perfectly still and let them get up and act out the concepts you are teaching them. This also helps in their memory of the content. They will remember the role-playing scenarios and it will be beneficial when they have to recall in the information on a test or in the classroom.
  • Put one problem or example on one page. This will help the student focus on the problem at hand and will help alleviate distraction of other numbers, words and formulas on the page.
  • Break long assignments into chunks. Remember that it’s not that students with ADD are unable to master the material; it is that they struggle with focusing on the material for long periods of time. To help them, chunk the lesson up into smaller sections. This will not only help the student stay focused, but it will keep them from getting bored and unfocused.
  • Although the library can be a quiet and peaceful place for some students to learn, for a child with ADD it could still be very distracting. All of the books, the people talking, computers running, library books being checked out, all of these things can be very distracting to a student with ADD. A quiet home office, a dining room table or an empty classroom may be a better fit for a child who is trying to focus.
  • Trade roles with the student. Once you believe the student has a grasp on the content, have him/her teach you. The best way to learn something is to teach it, so if they are able to explain the problems to you, you can be sure they have a solid understanding of the concept. If they are still not 100% sure on the information, teaching you will allow the student to hear him/herself say the content out loud, which is another way to use multiple senses to help the information stick.


Tutors who are working with students with ADD should remain patient and not have a problem repeating directions a few times. A soft, slow, patient speech pattern is helpful, and it is helpful to check frequently to make sure the student is following and understanding. Children who are taught in a way that is best for them make great gains and find a sense of achievement and confidence that they didn’t have before.