Tutors for ADHD Kids

Parent Q&A

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  • Our 7th grader was diagnosed with a mild case of ADHD. It seems to affect their life the most when staying on task and turning in assignments for school. We are interested in getting some additional outside help.
    I’d appreciate any feedback, positive and negative about Classroom Matters and SOS4STUDENTS. What was great about them and what was not? Were they helpful? Did you or didn’t you notice an improvement in organizational skills, and completing assignments thoughtfully and on time? 

    Thank You

    The single most helpful thing for my ADHD kid (plus other learning disabilities) was getting a 504 plan.  His needs have changed over the years, and the 504 plan changes with his needs.

    I haven’t used SOS4STUDENTS, but their website aligns with what has been helpful for my kid:

    1.  Help with a 504 plan.  My kid will likely need accommodations throughout his full educational experience.  The specifics change a bit, as he gets older.  His need for extra time, flexible due dates, and the chance to check in with his teachers to better understand assignments have been continuous.  My kid is a junior in high school and is taking a heavy AP course load, and it would not be possible without his accommodations.  Because of the 504 plan, my kid has qualified for the extra time that he needs on his AP exams and SAT.

    2.  Study Environment that supports my kid.  Through trial and error, we have discovered that the most productive study space is a desk in the middle of the living room.  He needs to be in the middle of family activities to help him stay focused.  He uses noise canceling headphones when we are too loud, but he stays in the middle of the living room.  He says that it helps him to stay on task when he feels seen.  Figuring out a great study environment for your kid is key.

    3.  Brain breaks.  My kid can hyper focus sometimes, and it’s really important to take breaks at least every hour.  Playing with the dog on the floor and taking a quick walk are very helpful.

    4.  Learning to self-advocate.  This is a great life skill for anyone, and it’s crucial for kids that need help.  In middle school, my kid did not want to stick out or look different, and he really needed a parent or adult to advocate for him.  In high school, my kid is becoming much better about going to the guidance counselor and teachers directly.  He asks the guidance counselor to help pick teachers and classes that can support his need for extra time and flexible due dates.  Then, he works directly with his teachers to negotiate for extra time on tests or extended due dates for out of class assignments.  This is a very difficult skill, and an advocate could really help in this area.

    5.  Embracing that kiddo will always be a little bit different.  Most school accommodations try to allow a kid to fit into a specific classroom mold.  The school environment is very specific.  A kid can be brilliant and amazing, while also not fitting neatly into the school environment.  I am constantly reminding myself that learning and growth are more important than letter grades.  I know that there is an amazing life ahead for my kid, and it may play out a little bit differently than for others.  My kid’s lack of mental conformity is the exact thing that allows him to think deeply and have interesting insights.  My mantra for the past two years has been “comparison is the thief of joy”!

    I hope that this helps as you decide whether to use either of the resources that you are considering.  Everything is a process.  Find mentors, advocates, or programs that help you and kiddo be calmer, optimistic, and joyful about the future.  :)

    My kid went to both. SoS had some good aspects but for us especially with dealing w/ school Classroom Matters was way more effective. Tatiana at CM is amazing.

    Classroom Matters has been a huge help for us. They really understand issues with executive functioning challenges (and ADHD) and how to help and support kiddos dealing with those challenges. They have fantastic rapport with kids dealing with this; get that their challenges are beyond their control. I appreciate their approach that the kids should not be blamed for these problems they're struggling with. Tatiana has been a huge help for our resistant teenage son; her ability to relate to him at his level and fully understand what he’s going through has been incredibly helpful. He has not been officially diagnosed with ADHD, but he has a difficult time staying on task, keeping track of assignments and remembering to turn them in. She has given him concrete suggestions that work for him which has made an enormous difference for him (has helped boost his self-confidence). She’s also incredibly generous and has advocated for him with our school. She is skilled at reviewing 504s and recommending how they can be improved. I recommend Classroom Matters to friends who are struggling with these issues all the time, and I live in San Diego!

  • My son is going into 9th grade next fall. We have gone back and forth on getting him a writing tutor, signing him up for Sylvan Learning Center (decided against it) or maybe a tutor for writing with some math mixed in. But then my husband and I came up with an idea thats more of a "homework tutor", someone who could guide him and help him with homework projects as needed, and when there is nothing urgent needing to be done with school assignments/projects, they could work with him on honing writing skills, math skills...just his academic skills that need some extra practice. 

    In 8th grade we have spent the whole year trying to figure out exactly what his needs are because his grades have seriously slipped. We have talked to his teachers and it seems he has a horrible time organizing himself, keeping his projects straight, finishing assignments etc (he is on an IEP for ADD and disgraphia). It has become a battle at home and none of us are benefiting from this kind of stress in the household. Kids tend to work way better with tutors and coaches than they do with parents, so we think he could really use something like a academic coach/tutor to help him. 

    Even though we are heading towards summer, wed like to have a tutor through the summer as well, to keep up his skills before he starts 9th grade. 

    Would love advice and/or referrals if anyone can guide us in this direction. 


    I wholeheartedly recommend Shari Simburg as a writing tutor/educational therapist for kids 4th-10th grades. Along with writing skills, Shari helps with reading comprehension, study skills and time management with long term assignments. Shari started working with my son when he was 10 yrs. old and continues to work with him as an 8th grader. My son initially struggled with some anxiety around writing and Shari has helped him overcome this challenge. My son has executive function/attentional issues and needs a lot of help with organization. Shari breaks down writing assignments into manageable chunks and helps support my son in a warm and nurturing manner. Shari has helped my son be a more confident and skilled writer and always inspires my son to think creatively outside of the box. Shari is responsible, organized and willing to put in the extra time when my son is struggling. Shari can be contacted at (510)649-7712 or shar.simburg [at] gmail.com (shar[dot]simburg[at]gmail[dot]com). Please feel free to contact me at kdwinick [at] gmail.com (kdwinick[at]gmail[dot]com) for any questions. 

  • Sylvan Learning for ADHD ?

    Aug 22, 2016

    Seeking any recent recommendations/reviews for Sylvan Learning - any east bay office. Did you find their tutoring method to be helpful for your child? My ADHD child has been in private tutoring for several years with the same person, and while it helped him keep up with his schoolwork, he is still testing at two grades lower in math and reading. I was thinking (hoping) that working within a small group might be a nice change and good motivator for him. Thank you for your help!

    Unless your child has a learning disability, other than ADHD, that the tutor is not qualified to handle, he should not be behind in any subject that he has been tutored for years.
    As a parent and a tutor who has worked with kids one on one and in small groups, I can tell you from experience that you definitely have to change the tutor. However, for someone that behind small groups are not going to be as effective as one on one tutoring.
    You need to find someone who will not focus on homework, but on improving certain skills. And you may have to find two different tutors: one for reading and one for math.
    I have worked with a range of students from extremely slow to learn to super fast, and all of them have improved , on an average, 1-2 grade levels in reading in less than two months.
    With math you have to make a commitment. While the reading can significantly improve without any homework (I don't give any), that is not the case with math. Students need a lot of practice before they can internalize the new concepts.
    I hope this helps.

    I haven't used Sylvan but I have an ADD kid who has needed a lot of help over the years. In my experience, the homework problem is very different from the testing problem.  I believe the test results that your son is getting might be more about what's going on in the classroom and how the testing is being done, not whether he is getting all his homework done. You didn't say how old your son is, or what his ADHD is like, or whether he is on meds, or has a 504 or IEP.  My son is in high school, and he has severe focus issues and takes meds for that, but he is not hyperactive. Before he was diagnosed with ADD, he learned NOTHING in the classroom because he did not have the focus to follow what his teachers were saying, or even notice when they were talking. One of his teachers suggested he might have hearing issues! Nope, just ADD as it turned out.  Before the meds, he did not learn much, he was a late reader, and could never remember anything that happened during the day. After he started meds, it was a completely different story.  He could focus on the teacher and he started learning and reading. In middle school he had a 504 Plan that allowed him to have longer to finish tests (he needs at least 2 hours to complete a 1 hour test). We also spoke with all his teachers about how he learns, and we cut way back on the homework, with the teachers' cooperation. Because his meds wear off around 4pm, his "learning day" is done basically when school lets out, and it is impossible for him to maintain enough focus to do anything that requires any thought.  However, he is up to speed academically.  Last year he did virtually no homework but still finished up the year with As and Bs and a couple of Cs. He does well on tests, especially on math and science, because 1) he's able to absorb so much information during class, and retain it, and 2) he gets longer to finish tests.  He did have a weekly tutor last year to help with long-term assignments - he needs a lot of urging - and for help with crafting longer writing assignments.  But he's smart, so he doesn't need someone to teach him how do math or read. He mainly needs the meds and the accommodations provided by the 504 Plan.  So this might be something for you to think about. 

    One other thing - working in small groups has never been a good way for my son to learn, because collaboration with other kids is distracting for him. He works better on his own, where it's only the work that requires his attention. Also, it takes him twice as long to finish a math problem or write a sentence as most kids, so he really hates working in a group because he is always the last to finish, and unfortunately there has sometimes been teasing and complaining from his group mates.  So it is possible that small group tutoring might not work for your son, depending on the situation.  However, I would definitely consider de-emphasizing homework and putting your attention on what's happening in the classroom and how the testing is being done. Good luck!  It is hard on the parents! 

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Academic Coach/Tutor for high school son with ADD and Dyslexia

July 2014

Hello, We are searching for someone who can help my sophomore son get organized with his studies, and to improve his skills in writing. He has some inattentive ADHD and very mild dyslexia, which combine to create antipathy towards school. This is particularly true for writing and research projects, and for orgqnanizing himself. He does fine in math. Due to his sports schedule, we would need someone who can come to our home in Berkeley. If you have someone who has helped your child with these issues, we would appreciate a post back. Thanks very much! Anonymous Parent of High Schooler

Our son as a teen was pathologically disorganized and could not focus on writing text. What helped him was behavior modification methods employed by an out-of-state special ed teacher who was temporarily working as an aide (astonishing luck for our family!).

The task-reward system worked like this: if he could stay on task with writing an essay for 45 minutes, he got 15 minutes of down time. He asked whether he could accumulate the 15 minute segments to have an entire afternoon off. She agreed to this. He was able to produce writing assignments and later did well in college.

As regards disorganization with regard to materials, time management etc, I'd advise that you pick your battles. Can he program an iPhone or one like it to remind him of deadlines? Then the trick is for him to input each assignment or appointment as it is mentioned, or to write it down by hand and first thing each evening enter it into the iPhone.

Both our special needs son and our neurotypical daughter struggle with organization. But both have improved with maturity. Remember to provide positive feedback whenever your son shows some incremental improvement. Amelia

Emma Pollin is a tutor who specializes in study skills and executive functioning scaffolding. She has worked with students like your son improve their general organization and writing skills, as well as motivate them to complete research projects. She can travel to your home in Berkeley and help him regularly throughout the school year. Because she engages with her students and their specific interests, their attitude towards school improves. She works for Aspire Education Project, a local nonprofit tutoring company. Our number is 510-658-7500, and our email is info [at] aspireeducation.org. aspireeducation

Below is the review I wrote or Heather Sweeney earlier this summer. She comes to your house for sessions and works with many students with ADHD. She constantly goes above and Beyond: Heather Sweeney has been working with D for two years now, and she is fantastic. I called her when my hardworking daughter with ADHD hit a bump in AP US History in her Junior year of High School. At first she said she had no room, but after hearing our story she showed, not for the last time, her level of compassion by saying,'' I want to help her''. She comes to our house, charges very reasonable rates, and has helped D with study and note taking skills, writing, test prep and much more. She is funny, patient, smart and caring. D sees her as a friend and looks forward to their sessions. Also enjoyable are the ''tribal dinners'' when many of Heather's students have a pot luck together and have a chance to share stories. My daughter made it into her dream college and we owe much of this to Heather. Contact info: hthrsweeney [at] gmail.com r2dean

Tutor for 5th grade boy with ADHD

May 2014

I am looking for a tutor for my son. He's in 5th grade. He has AdHd. He gets very interested in classwork but has a lot of trouble following thru on papers and teachers comments on revisions and with fine motor skills. I'm looking for a tutor to help him get down the mechanics while making it possible to put his interests to work. Ruth

I would highly recommend Nancy Chin at http://www.stepbystep4success.com/. You can call her at 510-384-1909. She worked with my elementary school age son who was really not engaged at school and not doing his work. She made an amazing difference. She is really focused on helping them build good habits and following through. She is really consistent and firm but nice. His teacher says my son is like a different child after spending a few months working with Nancy. I think she would be a perfect fit for your son. Good luck

March 2013

Gretchen Wegner, academic coach extraordinare, has been a lifesaver for my daughter, M. When M. came to Gretchen for help she was a very intelligent but underachieving high school student with ADD and severe executive function disorder. Gretchen dug in and helped M. develop time manangement skills, study skills, as well as concrete academic skills. After high school, M. chose to attend a large college and we were so worried about her disappearing through the cracks. We asked Gretchen to help M. transition to college. Gretchen has skyped with M. once a week in college. She reviews M.'s school schedule and her extra curricular activities. She helps her plan her free time and her study time. Without Gretchen, M. would be floundering in college, while, with Gretchens' help, she is thriving. We are so proud of M.'s accomplishments, M. is proud of herself, and we owe a mountain of gratitude to Gretchen for her invaluable contribution to M.'s development. In addition, M. has enjoyed and appreciated every minute she has spent with Gretchen over these past few years. Visit Gretchen's website at www.gretchenwegner.com K.

Gretchen Wegner has been an amazing tutor for my son C.. Before we met Gretchen our home life was spent working with C. every evening on his homework. He was frustrated and we were frustrated! Gretchen changed our lives. She instantly connected with C. academically and personally. C. is extremely motivated but has a learning disability, which got in his way of comprehending the homework and classwork. With Gretchen's coaching, he learned how to study differently, to use new tools and to be successful in learning, and once again to feel confident. Twice a week Gretchen provides academic coaching sessions for C., using charts to track his progress and grades, as well as any upcoming projects and assignments. Using Skype (which is great! No more driving time, schlepping C. to tutoring) to connect and communicate with, has been easy. C. has all his textbooks and materials at his fingertips. I used many tutors and programs previously, Linda Mood Bell, Komen and Sylvan, none of them provided the connection and the success that C. has experienced with Gretchen. We are so lucky and grateful to have found someone who has turned C.'s life around and made him like school once again! www.gretchenwegner.com Sign me as: y.

Tutor for 13 year old with dyslexia and ADD

Dec 2012

Looking for an educational therapist or tutor with experience with these two conditions to help our son with writing. We are looking for some who is skilled and kind--a sense of humor would also be great. Thanks in advance. Anonymous

I highly recommend educational therapist Ann Levinsohn. She's warm, patient and has a great sense of humor. My dyslexic 13 year old loves working with her! She is also great with parents. I know that she works with kids who have ADHD as well as dyslexia. Her number is (510) 233-0539 Good luck!

My 16 y.o. son has ADHD and has always struggled mightily with writing. Since he was in 8th grade - 13 y.o. - he has been working with Silvia Sikes, an educational therapist. She has been a great boon to him. From his first session with her, he liked her! which is key to his gaining help from her. She really ''gets'' his struggles, supports him and has high expectations for him. You can reach her at writeon50 [at] sbcglobal.net or 510 610 8910 Anon

My student, now age 19, had an excellent experience with (and relationship with) ''Ann Levinsohn'' levinack [at] hotmail.com, who lives & works out of her home in Richmond; it was very easy to get to, very close to I-80. She was also an excellent ''counselor'' to both my student and to me, e.g. some great advice, skillfully delivered. Peggy

Tutor for son with ADHD and other learning issues

Nov 2012

I'm looking for an educational therapist for my son who has ADHD & other learning issues. He needs help with organization, Spanish, and writing & editing. The Spanish speaking skill is critical for us. He does very well with people who have a relaxed style. Any suggestions are appreciated. Thanks!

Linda Lawton, founder and director of Center of Attention and Learning centerofattentionandlearning.org possesses an optimal balance of professional skills. She was a great resource for my teenage son, addressing his learning issues as well as the resulting family dynamics. Linda artifully combines her expansive knowledge of the neurology of learning and attention to skillfully assess and develop a functional, comprehensive, individualized intervention that goes beyond tutoring. Linda's goal is to help her clients gain insight into their own learning strengths and challenges while also setting up concrete goals for day-to-day success. She is active with CHADD and is fluent in Spanish! Good luck in your search for someone who is a match for your son. FG

I would like to recommend Gabriel as a tutor. He is been working with my son who is a junior in BH and I have seen great results with his grades. His email is benshalom.gabriel [at] gmail.com phone: (510) 504-0794 manc96

Tutor for high schooler with ADD

Nov 2011

My husband and I tried several tutors for our high school sophomore who was diagnosed with mild ADD and has had writing issues since grade school. But we fuond that they weren't able to really help him with his writing. Last year we were referred to Ashley Coburn by our pediatrician (Brad Berman). Ashley is a Learning Specialist and Academic Coach and she was able to help our son develop solid writing strategies based on his learning and attention issues, which has helped him so much with the demands of high school. His self-esteem has also improved, which my husband and I were especially concerned about. We highly recommend Ashley Coburn. (510)384-6069. Good luck!


Tutor for our 13yo son with ADD and dyslexia!

Aug 2010

We are in desperate need of a tutor/learning coach who has experience in working with teens. Our 13 yo son is 2E (twice exceptional ~ highly gifted & has learning challenges) He has ADD & Dysgraphia he currently has a 504 Plan in place but his school is of no help & we need someone who will work with our son and us to guide him on the path to success. He needs someone who ''get's him'' He's an amazing guy with so much to offer & although quirky & eccentric he's also the most fearless person I've ever known! He struggles with writing due to the dysgraphia & his school has no clue & insist he just doesn't want to do the work ~ he also needs math help & I'm not equipped to handle this area & dad travels a lot. We're in the Lafayette/Walnut Creek area & would prefer someone who could come to us. Our son feels more secure in familiar surroundings. We'll do whatever he needs. We want his educational experience to be different/positive. Please toss us a lifeline so we can help our beautiful son sail smoothly on the sea of his life. Jess

Although you requested a tutor, I would also like to point you toward the Attention Achievement Center, a resource that has helped our own 2E child amazingly. You can find more information at: http://www.drugfreeadd.com/ They have a program that can help your child repattern their brain habits toward greater attention. It's totally drug free, permanent, and effective. Our child's homeroom teacher described the change as ''like a miracle.'' We also have used tutors, but it was like walking uphill until we did the achievement center program. Grateful

Try Nancy Knopp at Summit Center (www.summitcenter.us). They specialize in working with gifted kids there. Good luck -

Your son seems like the type of student that Paul the Tutor works with. He specializes in students with learning disabilities and is himself dyslexic. I am a teacher, and have seen him have great success with students who have various and multiple disabilities. His education center is on Piedmont Avenue is Oakland, and I do not believe he works with students in their homes. He has a website www.paulthetutor.com and you can email him through his website, or call him at 510-381-2425. anon teacher

Tutor for daughter with ADD

Oct 2008

Jenifer Steele has been tutoring my child for the past 5 years. When my daughter was diagnosed with ADD by the school psychologist, I decided against drug therapy, but felt the need for extra assistance with the academics. Since Ms. Steele was familiar with Math Made Real and had a certificate in Educational Therapy, I though she might work well with someone that had learning difficulties. She has helped my child immensely. Not only has Jenifer assisted with improvement in reading, writing, spelling, math and Spanish, but she has helped her with organizational skills, time management, assertiveness techniques and communications skills. My daughter views her not only as a mentor, but as a true friend. I highly recommend Jenifer Steele as a tutor for your child especially if he/she may have some type of learning disability. You can reach her at (510)548- 7520 or jssteele [at] pacbell.net Marie


Tutor for middle schooler with ADD

Aug 2006

Hello all I need homework help for my middle schooler entering 7th grade. She went to Raskob Learning Center in the evening last school year which was pretty good, but pricey. She has ADD and she articulated to me that she needs help with the day to day school work. She has been tested and re-tested and does not qualify for anything from the school district that really seems to help. I have checked current recommendations on file and they did not pan out. Any suggestions or positive experiences with a particular tutor would be much appreciated. Thanks in advance
anon mom

Try ABS Homeschool and Tutorial Center. They do allow some clients to pay on a sliding scale. call Kena or Bilal @ 510-430-1701 anon

I know just the person for you. Her availability is limited, but she is worth trying. Her name is Angela Parker and she used to be the director of Lindamood-Bell Learning Processes in Berkeley. She is currently getting her PhD in education (of course!) and still works with a few students privately. Angela is great with kids, especially the ones who have a hard time sitting still. She provides a holistic approach to teaching, focusing on their emotional and academic needs. Helping children with learning challenges is her passion, and the kids know it. She keeps them focused and positive, and they do their best with her because they feel challenged and supported. Give her a call at 510 530-9571 another parent