Have you ever worked with a child who has high energy? Almost anyone who has experience working with children would probably say “yes!”  Our tutors are always looking for new tips to help their students focus, which is the reason we decided to turn this topic into a tutor discussion this past month. We love to offer our tutors a wide variety of workshops and discussions so they can learn more about our kids and gain tips that will help them have a more productive tutoring hour. Plus, we love to see their smiling faces!

Why Can't Jimmy Sit Still?We are so lucky to have tutors with a wide range of knowledge and experience. I often find that they are the best resource when it comes to tips on a successful tutoring hour. Sandra L. Tunis, Ph.D. has been a tutor with School on Wheels for over a year and she has a background in psychology, specifically neuroscience research.  She also has experience as a mother to a son who was diagnosed with ADHD, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.  In fact, Sandra wrote a book regarding her experience as a parent to a child with ADHD, Why Can’t Jimmy Sit Still?  Helping Children Understand ADHD.

Sandra was our facilitator for this discussion and shared great tips and information on working with high energy children.  Below are 10 major points that Sandra made, as well as some tips from tutors who attended the discussion:

1. It is important to note that ADHD and ADD are different and both have a wide spectrum of behaviors (hyperactivity, impulsivity).

2. As tutors, we are not here to diagnose. Rather, we are here to optimize the tutoring hour and manage the negative behaviors.

3. It is helpful to express your own vulnerability to the student.  It can be anything from telling the student, “I am not strong in math” or “I had a long day.”

Example: Sandra has a hearing impairment and always tells the children. It helps them to feel comfortable and also helps the children know that you are on their same team.

4. There are certain actions or happenings that trigger bad behavior. Transitions are a big trigger. It is important to acknowledge these triggers and set clear limits.

Example: “I notice walking to get a pencil in a calm manner is hard for you; it is distracting the other students.  Could we try walking my way this week and see how it goes?”

5. It is important to clearly and verbally let the children know what you expect.

6. Set up the tutoring hour for them verbally.

Example: “First, we will do the writing prompt.  Next, we will complete your homework and finally we can choose a book or fun educational game to play.

7. Some students respond better to hearing one task at a time so they do not feel overwhelmed. Keep this in mind while providing structure for the tutoring hour.

8. Each child is different, but some non-traditional methods may work to get the kids to re-focus.

Examples: Have the child stand during the hour, getting energy out. Sitting all day can be tough for high energy children. Take a 3 minute break from the work and stretch, do yoga, jumping jacks.

9. Make sure you are giving the children positive praise. They are so used to hearing “Don’t do this” and “No.” Sometimes all they need is some positive reinforcement.

10. Repetition is key! The children are listening and retaining the guidelines you are setting.  They may just need to hear them a couple of times for it to resonate.

These are just a few of the main points and helpful suggestions that came from our discussion.  I would like to thank Sandra for donating her time and knowledge not only to our students every week, but also to our staff and fellow tutors during this session!

Want more tips for tutoring? Check out our Tutor Resources.

Do you have an area of expertise related to tutoring, children or education that you would be willing to share with us? Contact us or let us know in the comments below!