Finding Help

How to Know if Your Child Needs Help

It may be difficult to decide if a student needs supplemental assistance beyond the school setting.  Trust your gut if you feel like something is off.  Ask your child's teacher to be on the lookout for struggle.  Children develop at slightly different paces from each other, but your child's teacher should be able to tell you if your child's struggles are out of the ordinary or worrisome.  Be aware that a “wait and see” approach may result in difficulties that are hard to address later. Early intervention is always the best policy.

For younger children, look for increased anxiety going to school, or your child saying they hate school, or it is too boring or too hard.  In math, are they counting on their fingers when the other children have mastered their math facts?  In reading, are they having particular difficulty making the connection between letters and sounds, or do they read slower than their peers?  In writing, do they simplify their language to avoid having to spell hard words?  When they make spelling errors, are they often not phonetic, or do they leave off whole syllables?

For older students, t
he most common warning signs are increased school anxiety, low or failing grades, lack of motivation, low academic self-esteem, and poor study habits and skills. Other signs may include:

  • history of learning difficulties
  • attention and concentration problems
  • recent trauma or life change
  • dislike of school and failure to complete assignments
  • family conflicts over homework
  • difficulty in a particular subject, e.g. algebra
  • need to prepare for high school or college entrance examinations
  • English as a second language

What Kind of Help is Available?

If you decide to seek additional help, you will need to determine which of the following is most appropriate.

Content tutoring: Assistance in one subject, such as reading or algebra
Educational therapy: Assistance from an educational therapist who understands learning difficulties and disabilities. This professional can diagnose underlying problems, determine your student’s best learning style, and design a remedial program for success in school.
Testing: If there is indication the student has learning difficulties, you may seek one of the following three levels of assessment
  • Diagnostic testing in one or more subject area, e.g., assessment of reading level or math competency
  • A complete educational evaluation entailing four to six hours of assessing learning skills and aptitudes
  • Psycho-educational evaluation or neuro-psychological evaluation involving six or more hours of IQ, psychological, neurological, and educational assessment
Consultation: Assistance in dealing with the educational system, including grade placement, parental involvement with school and homework, and learning issues. Help with private school or college selection and application may also be offered.
Psychotherapy/Counseling: Individual and couples, depression, anxiety, ADHD, test taking anxiety, PTSD , social skills training, and the impact of disabilities, divorce and illness on a family.
Speech and Language Therapy: Diagnosis and therapy for various disorders affecting a person’s ability to produce speech and process language.
College Counseling: Guidance in choosing the right college for a student and help with the application process.
Test Preparation: SSAT, SAT I & II, ACT, CAHSEE, GED, High School Exit Exam, TOEFL, GRE, MCAT

How to Choose a Qualified Provider

You may want to ask a potential provider about professional credential(s), experience (especially as related to your student’s needs), teaching methods, instructional style, and curriculum materials. You may also ask for references, written goals and objectives, program timeline, and measures of progress. Inquire about fees, cancellation policies, and procedures. It is also important to share information regarding a student’s history, interest and concerns. The more information a service provider has about the student, the better s/he can meet the student’s needs. Report cards, achievement test scores, work samples, and other test results, such as school evaluation for special educational services, should be made available. After the first session, take time to evaluate whether the student and the provider are a good match before making a commitment.

How to Use the Referral List

Once you have identified an appropriate tutor or specialist, contact that person directly to discuss your student’s particular needs and the provider’s availability, fees, references, etc. Some providers work in their homes, some have offices, and some will go to a student’s home, school, or local library. Fees vary from $45 to $150 per hour, depending on the professional’s education and experience and the type of service provided.

The individuals listed here have met certain prerequisites for membership in MEPP. They must have teaching experience, an advanced degree or expertise in a particular subject, and they must provide a resume and three letters of recommendation. Inclusion on this list does not imply an endorsement of each member. You should speak with prospective providers to determine which one will best meet the needs of your child.

For explanations of some of the terms and categories used in this website, including definitions of geographical locations, professional credentials, and learning programs, please refer to the Glossary.