Peer Tutoring the ADHD Student

Have you ever noticed how if you try to explain something to your child or help them with something that might make their life easier, they treat you like you have no idea what you’re talking about? Like you just arrived on this planet five seconds ago. Or, they act as if they already know what you’re telling them, despite the fact that their actions (and grades) indicate something completely different.  Well rest easy, because you are far from alone.

For a variety of reasons like wanting to be their own person, show you they can do it themselves (even if they can’t), and shear stubbornness, they just don’t want to hear it from you. Yet when a complete stranger comes along, they seem to be rapt with attention. This is why it’s sometimes best when we aren’t their parent AND their coach, their parent AND their teacher. Their parent AND their friend.

When it comes to the ADHD child, take what I just said about them not wanting to hear it from you and multiply it by a thousand. Start with the baseline fact that many children in general can have the attention span of a newborn poodle and the will of a saber tooth tiger. Then add to that the fact that the ADHD brain is wired in such a way that staying on task and learning are just more difficult for them.

Where learning in school is concerned, many children (with and without ADHD) have found great success through peer tutoring.

Peer tutoring is just what it sounds like. It’s being tutored by a same age or slightly older fellow student who can help them better understand academic material. Studies show that this form of one-to-one tutoring can have much greater impact on all types of children; especially those with ADHD. It’s proven to be extremely effective in a number of different academic and cognitive areas (Raggi & Chronis, 2006). Simply put, kids tend to show greater attention and interest when working with a fellow student rather than a parent (or even teacher). Also, they are better equipped to follow their instruction as a result of the directness and immediacy of the interaction. It can be a win-win situation not only for the child or teen getting the tutoring, but for the student providing the service building self-esteem and confidence all around.

If like so many parents you find yourself in a constant fight when it comes to trying to help your child with their homework, peer-tutoring can save your life. As an added incentive, working with a fellow student is typically cheaper than hiring a professional tutor. In some instances, it may even be free if the tutor is getting some kind of school or community service credit.

It’s a great example of a non-medication type of intervention that has appeared to work in increasing the rate of performance and accuracy of responses of children with ADHD (Trout, Lienemann, Reid & Epstein, 2007).  This is not to say that it is meant to be a substitute to the use of medications. Stimulant medication remains the most empirically supported intervention for the treatment of ADHD (Vaughan, Roberts & Needelman, 2009).  In the end, it is still the perfect combination of psychotherapy, medication, and cognitive behavioral/psycho educational programs (such as peer-tutoring) that are shown to be the most effective in improving the life of the ADHD child (Larner, 2004). And don’t forget solid, supportive and consistent parenting. That’s kind of important as well.

 

REFERENCES:

Larner, G. (2004). Family therapy and the politics of evidence. Journal of Family Therapy, 26, 17-34.

Raggi, V. L., & Chronis, A. M. (2006). Interventions to address the academic impairment of children and adolescents with ADHD. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review,9(2), 85-111.

Trout, A. L., Lienemann, T. O., Reid, R., & Epstein, M. H. (2007). A review of non-medication interventions toimprove the academic performance of children and youth with ADHD. Remedial & Special Education,28(4), 207-226.

Vaughan, B. S., Roberts, H. J., & Needelman, H. (2009). Current medications for the treatment of ADHD. Psychology in the Schools, 46(9), 846-856.

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