We see many children who have spent years with a tutor or coaching school trying to fix their language and literacy skills. Here is a nice outline of the difference between speech therapy and tutoring done by the University of Michigan, USA.

Speech Pathology/ Therapy vs Tutoring

Qualifications of Speech Pathologists

A Speech Pathologist (SLPs) is a university trained and qualified specialist in the area of speech, swallowing, fluency, language and literacy. The minimum undergraduate time is 3 years plus 2 years postgraduate training for a Masters or 4 years undergraduate for a Bachelor degree. In Australia, SPA requires minimum ongoing professional development to be undertaken in order to be a Certified Practising Speech Pathologist.

SLPs are trained in selecting, implementing, adapting, and interpreting assessment tools and methods to evaluate skills in spoken language, both comprehension and use.

A SLP may have received additional training in reading, spelling, and writing to specialize in literacy and dyslexia- this is the case with therapists at Childhood Learning and Speech Pathology.

A SLP will provide therapy with individual goals based on testing results and will periodically assess the student’s progress toward those goals using standardized and informal testing measures.

A SLP may have a background in a variety of literacy programs and be able to select from one program or parts of programs that may best work for each student.

Qualifications of Tutors

Tutors may be a student who excels in a specific area of study, a teacher, or a person who is interested in helping people. They may or may not have any formal training and they are not required to have ongoing professional development training.

Tutors typically are not trained to administer diagnostic assessments, and therefore rely on others to administer these tests.

Tutors may have a limited background or training in specific reading programs or approaches.

Role of Speech Pathologists
A SLP who has additional training in literacy and learning disabilities can provide a complete assessment of the student’s language, phonological awareness, reading, spelling, and writing. All of these pieces are important to learning to read. Knowing where you or your child’s strengths and weaknesses are in each area is invaluable to planning the individual treatment program.

Role of Tutors
The tutor’s role is typically to help the student “catch up” when behind academically rather than to remediate underlying, foundation skills.

The purpose of tutoring is to speed up the learning process, make up the skills the child has lost, and get them back up to the instructional level so the teacher in the classroom can continue the learning process with the child.

Tutoring attempts to help the student master the material at-hand and become confident in their learning process.

Goals of Speech Pathologists

SLPs will collaborate with teachers and families to plan intervention goals and activities, as well as modifying curricula to keep students progressing in the general education setting.

A SLP will write goals that are observable, measurable, and will delineate a time frame to achieve them.

Goals of Tutors

Tutors may or may not set goals for their students.

Tutors can both reinforce subjects that are taught in school and teach students how to work independently. Students often become more self-confident after working with a tutor.

Recommendations made by a Speech Pathologist

A SLP will also provide recommendations for both school and home and will provide you with a written progress report containing information about results of treatment (i.e., progress towards goals and what was done to work towards them), recommendations for continued treatment (i.e., set new goals), and recommendations for school and home.

Recommendations made by a Tutor

Tutors typically use assessments in a tutoring session and do not make recommendations for home and school.

Given that tutors typically do not write goals, they usually do not measure progress or write up progress reports.

If you select a tutor for your child with dyslexia:

It is essential that a student with dyslexia work with a tutor who is trained to use the appropriate multisensory techniques. Be sure to ask about training, experience, and references.

Schedule a minimum of two lessons a week. Students with learning disabilities need practice and repetition to master their lessons and it takes time to see improvement.