How to Tutor Children with Special Needs

In an ever changing world of education, one thing is clear: anyone teaching children has to be able to reach a diverse population of student needs. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there were 7.3 million students receiving special education services in 2019-20. That’s 14 percent of total public school enrollment. We know that the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) protects the rights of these students and ensures that they are serviced in school. But for many educators, the question becomes: How do I meet the needs of a student with diagnosed disabilities? How do I tutor a student with special needs? Here are some strategies to help you get started tutoring a child with special needs. 

Individualized Education Plans

When tutoring a student with special needs, it’s best to begin with their Individualized Education Plan (IEP). This plan can be provided by the parent or the school, and will outline the student’s present performance, their academic and behavioral goals, and the accommodations and modifications they require in order to complete their work. These documents are a great starting place to begin to understand where the student currently is academically and a good starting place for where to begin tutoring them. 

The present levels should outline the student’s current strengths and weaknesses academically as well as concerns the parent has for their child’s education. The goals will provide you with the areas of deficit that the child is currently presenting with and give you an idea of where to target your interventions during tutoring sessions. The accommodations and modifications will give you guidelines on how to present work to the student. Do they need large print? Do they need shortened reading or writing assignments? Such information will be specified in their IEP. 

Build Rapport

When tutoring a child with special needs, one of the most important things you can do up front is build rapport. Ask the student what they like. Ask them their favorite foods, toys, movies, games, activities. Make connections with them and ask follow up questions. Building rapport with the student will promote engagement in lessons with you, participation in work and activities, and allow them to feel comfortable asking for help if and when they need it. 

Rewards Systems

When a child has a disability, it can be challenging to motivate them to begin, stay focused on, and complete assigned tasks, work, or activities. Concrete reward systems can be highly motivating for children with special needs. The great news is, reward systems work for students of all ages. Think of it like the money you earn as pay for completion of tutoring hours: Your wage is $15 per hour, you work 3 hours, you earn $45. Pretty motivating to do your work!

For a student with special needs, this may look like: When I get 5 stars, I can use my iPad for 10 minutes. I get a star when I complete a math problem. I do 5 math problems, I get to use my iPad for 10 minutes. 

Rewards can be really anything that motivates the student! They can be tangible rewards (stickers, prize boxes, snacks), experiences (iPad time, game, outdoor time), or interactions (high fives, note from parents). It’s best to involve the student or their parents in the selection of the reward to ensure that it truly is something that the student will want to work towards earning. 

For more on how to use a reward system, check out this resource:


As with most children (and even adults!), a consistent and predictable schedule and routine will promote success for children with special needs. When starting a tutoring session, consider a visual schedule (this could be anything from pictures to a checklist of what will be done during the session) to prepare the student for what is coming. Be open to modifying your schedule until it is appropriate for the student and once you find a flow that works, stick to it! The student will begin to expect their routine and will be more likely to participate and try novel or more challenging tasks. 

Assessments and Data Collection

Assessments are an important part of tutoring children with special needs. It’s important to identify key areas where the student is lacking the required skills in order to provide them with the most appropriate targeted intervention. Assessing skills should be completed, scored, and presented to the parent or student before beginning academic interventions. 

Once you begin providing tutoring and interventions to address the skills, it’s important to collect data on the student’s progress. Students with special needs vary in the time it takes for progress to be made and seen, and small victories should be celebrated! 

For formal assessment ideas, check out this resource:

Targeted Interventions 

Once the student’s areas of weakness have been identified through review of their IEP and assessment, it is time to choose targeted interventions that match the skill they are not yet able to do. It’s important to keep in mind that this child needs special education services and tutoring because the mainstream teaching strategy was not enough to reach them and for them to learn the skill, so they will need an intervention specific and targeted towards their needs.

Take, for example, a student with a Specific Learning Disability in math. After assessment, you note that they show a weakness when differentiating between addition and subtraction problems. A targeted intervention you could implement would be color coding math symbols (i.e. highlight subtraction signs yellow and addition signs green for visual cues – or have the student go through their work and color code prior to beginning to solve problems). 

For more targeted intervention ideas, check out this resource from the National Association of Special Education Teachers:

Tutoring students with special needs can be a challenging task, but when done effectively, it will absolutely be rewarding to the tutor and the student. 

How Tutoring Children Requires Special Teaching Skills

Tutoring Children Requires Special Teaching Skills

            Jose sat at the kitchen table.  He had been staring at the same math problem for what seemed like hours.  He simply could not figure out how to compute the answer.  Hearing his frustration, his older sister sat down with him.  She had completed the same work years earlier and hoped she would be able to help.  Minutes later, she was as frustrated as him and had walked away.

 Many times children need extra help with their school work.  Sometimes it seems easy to sit down and immediately help students fill in their learning gaps or get help with an upcoming assignment, project, or test.  While this can sometimes end well, just as often it goes amiss.  Tutoring children requires skills far beyond the knowledge to simply help someone find the answer. 

But….I Know How to Get the Answer

            Similar to Jose’s sister, many people think because they know how to do the math, write an essay, or complete the science diagram that they can tutor a child.  Having the knowledge to help a child requires content knowledge, but it extends beyond that.  Although many people know how to solve word problems that require math computation skills, they may lack the ability to explain the process to someone they are tutoring. 

Break It Down

            Today’s world is filled with a plethora of online resources which can be helpful; nonetheless, knowing how to break it down or chunk information into manageable sections is a necessary part of tutoring.  Students may struggle with multi step problems and processes.  When tutoring students, work to complete homework or explain difficult concepts using clear, concise directions that are scaffolded as needed.  By scaffolding students, they begin to see how the various steps and pieces fit together. Keep in mind that the process of breaking down the learning process in reading may look different than helping someone in science or social studies. Tutoring students in reading requires understanding and applying specific strategies. 

Know the Age

            The developmental needs of a five year old vary considerably from an eight or nine year old.  For this reason, during tutoring sessions, one must keep in mind what age children they are working with.  For example, the same tutoring strategies that work well with preschool and kindergarten students will likely not be the ones that should be utilized with second grade students.  Furthermore, think about timing when scheduling tutoring.  After school tutoring may work best for a student who is less hyperactive, but for children with an abundance of energy, they may need a break from school before they are mentally and physically able to focus on tutoring.

Patience and Then Some

            Tutors need to have an abundance of patience.  In addition they need to be positive and empathetic.  By understanding the student’s situation, a stronger rapport and better communication will strengthen the tutoring relationship.  By working to actively listen to the child and maintaining a position of leadership and trust, the tutor will also have a greater impact on the child.  These various character traits once again show how tutoring children requires special teaching skills. 

Trial and Error             Finding the special teaching skills needed to tutor children may take some trial and error.  In other words, a single motivational process and tutoring style may not always work.  Evaluate different options before committing to a tutoring program or individual.  Spending money to acquire tutoring services should be done with care after determining that the provider has an understanding of how tutoring children requires special teaching skills.   More general guidelines for tutoring and how the process works can be here.

Atlanta for Kids: Fun and Educational Activities to do in the City

Whether you’re visiting for a weekend trip or looking for new ways to explore your own city, Atlanta is full of activities and adventures that are packed with educational experiences! Here is a breakdown of the best Atlanta activities for kids by the educational content you’ll encounter there.

STEM Activities for Kids in Atlanta

Are you looking to fit Science, Technology, Engineering and Math into your Atlanta excursions? Atlanta has many options for fitting STEAM learning into your activities and experiences.

Zoo Atlanta – With more than 1,500 animals from 220 species, Zoo Atlanta is a perfect way to expose children to science topics like ecosystems, classifications, animal movement, conservation, and camouflage! Engage your child further in the experience by encouraging them to be a scientist themselves – bring a notebook for them to take “field notes” and write or draw their observations. 

Georgia Aquarium – The Georgia Aquarium houses 100,000 animals in 7 exhibits that give a true look into life underwater. Take your educational experience a step further and go behind the scenes with animal encounters, tours, swims, and dives. 

Children’s Museum – The Children’s Museum is Atlanta’s best hands-on museum for toddlers and young children and they believe in the power of play. The museum offers exhibits that will encourage inventive problem solving, creative thinking, and imaginative expression. With rotating exhibits, the Children’s Museum provides novel experiences each time your kids visit!

LEGOLAND – From the LEGO Master Builder Class, to the Race Car Build & Test, to the interactive Atlanta Cityscape build with over 15 million LEGOS, LEGOLAND is sure to provide a thrilling atmosphere for your little builder. Time at LEGOLAND will encourage math, science, engineering, communication, critical-thinking and problem solving skills. 

The Escape Game Atlanta – Looking to engage your teen or older child in critical thinking, problem solving, and team building experiences? The Escape Game Atlanta is a great opportunity! You will enter an immersive world and be tasked with recovering priceless art or finding lost gold by applying STEM and team-building skills. 

History Activities for Kids in Atlanta

From the birth home of Martin Luther King Jr. to the extensive railroad systems we can thank for its existence, Atlanta is full of rich history and social science learning experiences. 

Fernbank Museum of Natural History – The Fernbank Museum of Natural History features permanent and rotating natural history exhibits that give a one-of-a-kind look into life before us. Exhibits cover a wide range of topics including Fantastic Forces, Reflections of Culture, and Giants of the Mesozoic (Dinosaurs!).  They even have an exhibit called “A Walk Through Time in Georgia,” providing kids with the story of Georgia’s natural history and the development of the part of our planet Atlanta lives on. 

National Center for Civil and Human Rights – The NCCHR is a museum and cultural attraction dedicated to sharing the story and accomplishments of the Civil Rights and Human Rights Movements. To make the most of your experience, download the personal guides and tailor your experience to any age kid elementary through college.

Outdoors & Fitness Activities for Kids in Atlanta

According to Child Development Specialists, children should spend 3 hours outside and in active movement per day! Atlanta has great options to help meet your kinesthetic learner’s needs. 

Atlanta Botanical Gardens – The Atlanta Botanical Garden is a 30 acres botanical garden in the heart of the city. Their mission is to “develop and maintain plant collections for the purposes of display, education, conservation, research and enjoyment.” In addition to experiencing the sights of the extensive collection of plant species, the Atlanta Botanical Garden offers weekly kids programming events, annual learning programs, an interactive children’s garden and a library. 

Piedmont Park – Piedmont Park is 185 acres of open space, walking trails, baseball fields, tennis courts and playgrounds, and is the most centrally located park in Atlanta. They are known for their festivals, dog parks, and city views. To make it an educational experience, Piedmont Park offers historic walking tours, summer programs and conservancy fundraisers for kids and the whole family. 

Westside Reservoir Park – Atlanta’s newest park, the Westside Park at Bellwood Quarry spans 280 acres and is filled with walking and biking trails, open lawn, playgrounds, pavilions, and features an overlook to the quarry and reservoir. Children of all ages will strengthen their physical health, social skills, communication, and independence when visiting Atlanta’s largest park. 

The Little Gym – The Little Gym is a children’s gym (infant – 12 years) that offers a number of learning experiences and activities including gymnastics, dance, karate, and sports skills. They also offer parent/child classes for the youngest learners, starting at 4 months old. Enrichment Programs and Clubs are learning environments that balance physical and cognitive development to prepare kids for school success. 

Aqua-Tots – Growing research is showing that swimming can provide a unique increase in brain development and has been shown to improve cognitive development, memory, communication and imagination. Aqua-Tots swim school provides a tested curriculum for kids aged 4 months – 12 years that teaches swim safety, skills and technique. They also offer swim clubs, swim teams, special needs and adult swim programs.  

Art Activities for Kids in Atlanta

Participating in the arts – singing, dancing, drawing, creating – is a natural way to engage all of the senses and prepare a child’s brain for optimal development. Atlanta has a variety of activities to expose kids to the benefits of the arts. 

Center for Puppetry Arts – Atlanta’s own Center for Puppetry Arts is one of the few puppetry museums in the world! The center offers puppet shows, puppet workshops and a puppet museum that are sure to spark imagination and creativity in the children who visit! 

High Museum of Art – Atlanta is truly lucky to house the High Museum of Art and all of the worldly pieces that have been displayed there. They feature permanent and rotating exhibits as well as events for all ages including Toddler Thursdays, family-friendly programming, and Jazz Fridays. Helpful Hint: Admission is free for all visitors on the second Sunday of each month! 

The Music Class – Rooted in music education philosophy, The Music Class offers an immersive experience that keys into the rapid early brain development of young children to nurture their music development. Their evidence based practices utilize music to encourage positive cognitive, social, emotional, physical and brain development! 

Impactful Businesses 

An educational activity tour of Atlanta wouldn’t be complete without acknowledging the impactful businesses located in the heart of the city. Our older children especially will enjoy the special look into how these Atlanta-based businesses are run and possibly dream big about their futures!

The World of Coca-Cola – The World of Coca-Cola Museum showcases the history of the world famous Coca-Cola Company. Their exhibits provide an interactive experience in the company’s history, a production line, and a tasting room to sample 100s of soda flavors. 

CNN Center – Atlanta is home to Cable News Network’s (CNN) world headquarters. Your child is sure to dream big when they visit the CNN Atlanta Newsroom or take a CNN Studio Tour and see how teleprompters and weather maps work, the action inside of a newsroom, and get an up close look at the people on-screen. 

Consider buying a City Pass to save money on your Atlanta excursions! Find more information here:

How to Find Tutor Websites for Your Tutoring Sessions

The recent pandemic has caused many parents to struggle with their children’s education needs. Schools were closed for months, then reopening was called into question. Many parents have been looking at tutor websites to see if they can get some personalized, instructional help for their kids. Our experts at Atlanta Tutors LLC would like to offer 4 tips to help you find the right fit for your family:

Consider Your Child’s Personality

Will your son or daughter respond to an online teacher on a tutor website? It will be a person that they have never met, and your child may not be comfortable working directly with this person. However, many tutors are skilled at making children feel comfortable and communicative.

Research the Grades the Company Tutors

Some tutor websites have K-12 listed as the grades they serve. Further research into the website will state they specialize in high school or college prep only. Make sure the website in question offers tutors that specialize in your child’s grade.

Learn Which Tutoring Subjects the Company Offers

When you search for tutor websites, you will see numerous options that offer mathematics and science tutoring exclusively. Very few offer language arts, history, or foreign languages tutoring. Be sure the company can teach your child what she needs. If you are looking for SAT prep, be sure they offer that.

Compare Pricing

Some companies will help your child throughout their school year. In the most common situation, you will pay by the hour or by the month. If they are getting SAT training prep, that can last several months for most people, but can be as short as a few individual sessions. Explore pricing options for your child’s exact learning needs–and the time tutoring is needed.

Keep these 4 considerations in mind as you look for the tutor website that you feel will work best for your family. If you have any questions, or if we can help your child in any way, please contact our experts at Atlanta Tutors, or call 678.412.5457.         

Which Atlanta College Should I Attend? A Breakdown of Options

Applying to colleges is a very exciting time in one’s life! With all of the excitement comes really big decisions – decisions that will have an impact on the path your life will move forward on. Atlanta has a wide variety of options to explore in your search for colleges to attend. Here’s a breakdown of the options by the type of college or university as well as what they’re best known for!

Follow this link for detailed comparisons on the different types of colleges and universities:

Four-Year Institutions 

Public Colleges and Universities in Atlanta, GA

Georgia Institute of Technology (GA Tech) – Georgia Tech is ranked the #1 4-Year College in Atlanta. It is most popular for its engineering programs, with top majors being Mechanical Engineering, Electrical, Electronics and Communications Engineering, Industrial Engineering, and Civil Engineering. Before financial aid, it costs about $30,000 per year and has a 86% graduation rate.

Georgia State University – Georgia State offers a wide variety of programs with 55 undergraduate and graduate degree options in more than 250 fields of study. It’s most popular majors include Psychology, Biology, Marketing, and Finance. Before financial aid, it costs about $30,000 per year and has a 52% graduation rate.

Private Colleges and Universities in Atlanta, GA 

Emory University – Emory University is ranked #25 in the top nations in the United States, considered a “Southern Ivy.” It is a research university and receives record amounts of funding towards their research programs and initiatives ($894 million last year alone). They are known for their school of medicine, but offer other popular programs like Registered Nursing, Biology, Neuroscience, Econometrics, Psychology, and Chemistry. Before financial aid, it costs about $73,000 per year and has a 90% graduation rate.

Clark Atlanta University – Clark is a private methodist college and was the first HBCU in the southern states. It features programs not as popular elsewhere such as Radio, Television, and Digital Communication and Criminal Justice and Safety Studies. Before financial aid, it costs about $39,000 per year and has a 37% graduation rate.

Art Institute of Atlanta – Art Institute of Atlanta is located in Dunwoody, GA and is known for their Design, Fashion, Media Arts, and Culinary Programs – a great option for anyone looking to major in the arts! Although a four-year school, its programs are career-focused, much like a technical college. It is a part of a system of 8 schools and online programs. Before financial aid, it costs about $33,000 per year and has a 16% graduation rate. 

Herzing University – Herzing University is in the center of downtown Atlanta. It is common with international students, giving it a diverse student population. Herzing is known for its Nursing, Information and Technology, and Legal Studies programs. One of the lowest costing of the private colleges in Atlanta, it costs about $30,000 per year and has a 20% graduation rate. 

Atlanta Intercontinental University – Atlanta Intercontinental University is a subsidiary of American Continental University. Their most popular majors are Business Administration, Criminal Justice, and Healthcare Administration. Before financial aid, it costs about $22,000 per year and has a 14% graduation rate.

Liberal Arts Colleges in Atlanta, GA  

Agnes Scott College – Agnes Scott is a private women’s liberal arts college in Decatur, GA. It is ranked #1 Most Innovative National Liberal Arts College by the U.S. News & World Report’s 2021 edition of “Best Colleges.” The most popular majors are public health, social sciences, and psychology. Before financial aid, it costs about $57,000 per year and has a 70% graduation rate. With just over 1,000 students, the average class has about a 11:1 teacher to student ratio. 

Spelman College – Spelman College is a historically black liberal arts college for women, located in Atlanta. Their most popular programs are Psychology, Political Science, Biology, Economics, and English Literature. Spelman College is known as a Black Ivy League, an HBCU attracting high performing and affluent students. Before financial aid, it costs about $55,000 per year and has a 78% graduation rate.

Oglethorpe University – Oglethorpe University is located in Brookhaven, GA and is housed on a beautiful, historic campus. With less than 1,500 students enrolled, students receive an individualized education. Their most popular majors are Business Administration, Communications, Biology, Research and Experimental Psychology, and Biopsychology. Before financial aid, it costs about $57,000 per year and has a 46% graduation rate.

Morehouse College – Morehouse College is a men’s HBCU (historically black colleges and universities) in Atlanta, GA. It is one of four men’s colleges in the United States. In the heart of the city, the campus covers 61 acres. Morehouse College is the #1 producer of black men who go on to receive doctorate degrees. It is known for the Morehouse School of Medicine, but offers a variety of programs and majors. Before financial aid, it costs about $48,000 per year and has a 51% graduation rate.

Two-Year Institutions 

Community Colleges and Trade Schools / Technical Colleges in Atlanta, GA

While Community Colleges and Technical Colleges are often used interchangeably, a Community College offers a general education towards an associates degree and a Technical College offers specialized career specific programs.  

Atlanta Technical College – Atlanta Technical Colleges is one of the most cost-friendly colleges in Atlanta, with tuition costing about $11,000 per year before financial aid. It also offers the widest variety of associates degrees and technical certificate programs including (but definitely not limited to) Accounting, Barbering, Carpentry, Culinary Arts, Dental Hygiene, Early Childhood, Paralegal Studies, and Radiologic Technology. See all of their programs of study here: 

SAE Institute – The SAE Institute is located in Atlanta, GA. It is known for its programs in media and digital arts. Their most popular programs and degrees are Game Development, Audio Technology, Entertainment Business, and Digital Film. It costs about $24,000 per year and currently enrolls around 800 students. 

Georgia Piedmont Technical College (Formerly Dekalb Technical) – Georgia Piedmont Technical College offers Associate Degree programs, Diploma programs, and Technical Certificate Programs. Their most popular programs are Automotive, Early Childhood Education and Care, Healthcare and Legal Studies. It costs about $20,000 per year, with some programs able to be completed within one year. 

Gwinnett Technical College – Gwinnett Tech is located just outside of Atlanta in Lawrenceville, GA. It offers more than 140 associate degree, diploma and certificates programs with a focus on real-world job skills. They offer programs in Engineering, Business, Computer Sciences, Nursing, Health Services, and Public and Professional Services. For a full catalog of their programs, visit: Before financial aid, it costs about $27,000 per year to attend Gwinnett Tech.

Interactive College of Technology – The Interactive College of Technology is located just outside of the perimeter in Chamblee, GA. It offers both Associates Degree programs as well as a variety of short-term diploma programs. Their most popular programs are Business and Technology, Medical Office Administration, and HVAC and Commercial Refrigeration trades. They also offer a unique program on Vocational English as a Second Language. Before financial aid, it costs about $21,000 per year, with some programs able to be completed within one year. 

Hiring Assistant Director

Atlanta Tutors LLC  seeks part-time, fully remote Assistant Director to help manage all aspects of our business.

The responsibilities for this position fall into five categories:

Client Relations:

  • Receiving calls from, and returning calls to, parents and students who are seeking information about our tutoring services
  • Emailing clients to provide information about our tutoring services
  • Calling existing and former clients to gauge their level of satisfaction with our services
  • Pairing clients with tutors
  • Tracking and managing client billing

Managing Tutors:

  • Announcing tutoring opportunities by email, phone calls, and texts to tutors and pairing tutors with clients
  • Evaluating performance of tutors

Human Resources:

  • Reviewing applications of prospective tutors.
  • Conducting preliminary phone interviews with prospective tutors.
  • Occasionally interviewing prospective tutors at local coffee shops and bookstores
  • Manage hiring process for new tutors
  • Making hiring decisions in coordination with other directors
  • Post and manage tutoring jobs on external sites


  • Collaborate with Director to develop relationships with teachers, school administrators, and community organizations
  • Helping with email marketing campaign and mail-outs
  • Identifying and periodically attending community events to promote business


  • Exceptional perception and implementation of prioritizing many responsibilities with extreme attention to detail and professional communication with clients
  • Maintain collaborative communication with Director regarding clients, tutors, and all other job-related information including weekly meetings


  • College degree from well-known university
  • Background in education
  • Knowledge of the Atlanta education scene (public and private schools, standardized tests, colleges, etc.)
  • Strong communication skills–written and oral
  • Impeccable character and professional appearance
  • Self-driven–ability to work independently
  • Belief in our mission to provide high-quality academic support services to students


The majority of the responsibilities for this position can be done from home. This position will require availability from 9-1pm or 1-5pm daily to be available to answer calls, make calls, answer emails, and send emails. It may be a combination of these hours, to be arranged with the Director. This will be around 20 hours per week during the academic year, but the position will require some flexibility on the part of the Assistant Director as the responsibilities of the position evolve and as the needs of the business ebb and flow with the academic calendar. During the summer, the demand for tutoring is significantly less, and the hours for the position will reduce accordingly.



Please email the following to [email protected]:

1) A cover letter  that describes how your prior work experience meets the specific job requirements for this position.

2) A resume that highlights qualifications and experience relevant to this position.


Georgia Milestones Tutoring

Now is the time to get tutoring for the Georgia Milestones Exam

If you are concerned that your child may not pass the Georgia Milestones exam, now is the time to connect with one of our Atlanta in-home tutors. Begin preparing as soon as possible.

Our tutors are well-versed in all Georgia Milestones subjects, and we have a proven record of helping Atlanta area students achieve higher scores. We have expert tutors for all of these sections of the exam:

  • English language arts
  • mathematics
  • science
  • social studies.

How are Atlanta area students scoring on the Georgia Milestones exam?

Despite the fact that scores have increased over the past few years, a large number of students are still struggling to pass the exam. Average pass rates for many Georgia schools remain quite low.

What are the main areas of the Georgia Milestones exam with which students struggle?

There are two main areas where students struggle:

1. the open-ended questions on English Language Arts and mathematics sections. 

In the past students could select between four answers that were provided for them. Now students have to come up with answers on their own. This is extremely challenging for many students and requires a higher level of master.

2. the writing component in response to reading passages in the English Language Arts part of the exam

Reading and writing are essential skills but many students struggle with both of them. Studies show that young people today read far less than in previous generations.  This makes the reading and writing components of the exam a real challenge.

How do our tutors help students prepare for the Georgia Milestones?

Our tutoring for the Georgia Milestones exam is targeted and personalized. We begin by obtaining a detailed understanding of the specific areas where students are struggling. This allows our tutors to focus specifically on these areas. This saves time and money.  It is also highly effective.

Our tutors will come to your home to provide individual, in-home Georgia Milestones tutoring. 



Girl using an ipad - featured image for educational apps article

Five of the Best Educational Apps for Children, Part I: Tweens & Teens

Five of the Best Educational Apps for Children, Part I (Tweens and Teenagers)

In this article, I highlight five of the best educational apps for children, focusing on educational apps for tweens and teenagers. These apps are kid-tested and parent-approved. They promise to both entertain and educate your child.

How I Evaluate Educational Apps for Kids

I supervised my seven children (ages 15, 13, 11, 9, 7, 5, and 3) as they tested out dozens of highly rated educational apps over the course of one full year. We followed this process:

  • I found recommendations for educational apps in parenting magazines, at educational websites, and by browsing app stores.
  • My children were allowed to try them out, and if the apps appeared to be functional, user-friendly, and wholesome, we kept them on our devices.
  • Over the months, a few apps began to shine as clear winners.

The Best Learning Apps for Tweens and Teenagers

1) Squeebles by KeyStageFun: A Spelling and Math App for Kids of All Ages

Produced in the UK but with the option for American English, Squeebles is aimed at children under age 12, but is entertaining enough for older children and adults who may need to brush up on basic math or spelling.

The spelling app is customizable, allowing the parent to input a spelling list. The app offers appealing games as incentives, but they may only be played for a limited time before the user must get back to work.

Even after a full year, my tween children absolutely love this app and I’m sure they will never tire of it. Of note is that it can also be used by preschoolers if one takes the time to instruct them properly, and age appropriate spelling words are used.

A comment on educational math apps: A wide variety of apps for math drills abound, including the aforementioned by Squeebles, and after we tested many of them, I found that it really depends upon the child in terms of what is appealing. For example, there are math apps with games that feature animals, vehicles, space travel, aliens, and candy, and there are math apps that offer competition with other users around the world. It really depends upon what interests your child.

2) SpellingCity and VocabularySpellingCity by Vkids

These kids’ spelling apps are customizable, and they have fun games. They are worthy of mention in this list of the best educational apps for kids because they can really be customized to provide an entire spelling and vocabulary curriculum to a child. These spelling apps are also used by many school districts. You can also download lists in many different categories based upon subjects and student’s grade level.

3) A Suite of Geography Apps for Kids: Presidents vs. Aliens, Stack the States, and Stack the Countries by Freecloud Design

This is by far the best educational suite of apps that I have ever found, hands down for teaching geography and facts about the U.S. Presidents, and it is by far the favorite of all of my oldest four children. If you don’t already use these geography apps, you need to find them and download them now! I’m excited to see what else Freecloud Design will produce in the years to come.

Here is how my 11 year old son (who quickly memorized all of the Presidents and most of the facts related to them thanks to the Presidents vs. Aliens app) describes the premise of Presidents vs. Aliens: “You protect the people from the aliens. You get a powerup for every three you get right and you win Presidents. You learn about what they look like, their names, where they are from, their party, quotes, historical events, before and after, and nicknames.”

Stack the States teaches the shape of states, bordering states, capitals, nicknames, landmarks, cities, and flags. Stack the Countries teaches capital cities, continents, languages, border countries, notable cities, landmarks, flags, and country shapes.

4) An Interactive Encyclopedia for Children: BrainPOP

This is a favorite of my tweens for casual learning about innumerable subjects. It’s really like an interactive encyclopedia for kids with appealing videos (that are just the right length) and activities on almost every subject imaginable. It is perfect for enrichment for children who can read, and allows them to explore their interests.

5) Khan Academy: You Can Learn Anything by Khan Academy

For older children and adults who want to learn about almost any academic subject via a lecture format, this is our family’s choice by far. It is most appropriate for high school students and adults, and some subjects may be inappropriate for children.

Khan Academy seems to have just the right amount of both “treats” (in the form of badges and other little incentives for learning), and social connectivity (it doesn’t overly encourage this a la Facebook, but there is a community there to help when you need it).

By Sally Casey

Before staying home with her many children, Sally Casey taught geology at Minnesota State University, Moorhead. She currently works part time as a writer, specializing in and blogging about topics related to education, children, and family.


2016 election graphic - featured image for candidates on education article

Where the Presidential Candidates Stand on Education

In this blog post, we explore the question: Where do the presidential candidates stand on education?


The race for the presidency is undeniably heating up, and there’s plenty of talk among the leading candidates of both parties about the economy, terrorism, immigration, and a host of other issues. Education has somewhat taken a back seat, but the major White House hopefuls do have positions on the subject.

As is typical with Democrats and Republicans, it basically comes down to a question of how much the federal government should be involved in educating the nation’s schoolchildren and how education funds should be spent. But there are plenty of related issues to go around as well.

In brief, here’s where the poll leaders stand:


Hillary Clinton: The former first lady, senator, and secretary of state promises “debt-free tuition” at public colleges along with establishment of “a $25 billion dollar fund specifically aimed at helping historically black colleges and universities.” She also favors legislation that would “require districts and states to take action to turn around struggling schools and expand resources for teacher development, early childhood education, and high-quality public charter schools.”

Bernie Sanders: Like Clinton, the Vermont senator and self-proclaimed “democratic socialist” advocates “free” education at public colleges and universities for all along with “high-quality, affordable early childhood education.” Other aspects of Sanders’ education platform include a reduction in student loan interest rates. He also believes that colleges and universities “should hire more faculty and increase their percentage of tenured and tenure-track professors.”


Donald Trump: The outspoken real estate mogul is an advocate of local control when it comes to education. He has branded the federal Common Core standards “a disaster” and called for cutting the Department of Education “way, way down.” “How long do we think the U.S. can survive schools that pretend to teach while our kids pretend to learn?” Trump asks. “How can a kid hope to build an American Dream when he hasn’t been taught how to spell the word ‘dream’?”

Ted Cruz: “We should repeal every word of Common Core,” says the Texas senator. “We should get the federal government out of the business of curriculum.” Cruz says education is far too important “to be controlled by unelected bureaucrats in Washington.” Rather, Cruz believes that education “needs to be at the state level or the local level where we as parents have direct control over the standards, over the mores, over the curriculum that is being taught to our kids.”

Marco Rubio: The Florida senator has pledged that on his first day in office, he would “issue an executive order directing federal agencies to stop any and all activity related to implementing or encouraging Common Core.” On higher education, Rubio has pledged to implement “automatic, income-based repayment” of student loans and reform the “outdated accreditation system to accommodate nontraditional education.” He is also a vocal advocate of vocational training.

Jeb Bush: The former Florida governor would consolidate the $22 billion in annual federal dollars spent on education via “44 disjointed programs” and allow states to deposit $2,500 annual scholarships for low-income children under 5 into newly created Education Savings Accounts, which would replace existing college savings plans. Once a supporter of Common Core, he now says he believes that learning standards should be generated at the local level. He also favors doubling support for charter schools.

John Kasich: The Ohio governor believes that education should be “local,” with no federal learning standards: “The teaching curricula, choice of textbooks, and lesson plans that local educators use are the responsibility of local school district …” He points to Ohio, where the number of school vouchers has been quadrupled and the number of schools with students eligible for vouchers increased. He would keep college costs down by encouraging students to earn college credit in high school.

-by Steve Eddy

Steve Eddy is a tutor, freelance writer and retired newspaperman.  He is an expert on current issues in education and regularly contributes to the Atlanta Tutors “Education Resources” blog. 


tutoring helps student master calculus

Calculus Tutoring: Taking it one infinitesimal step at a time

Calculus can often be an intimidating class for students. The subject matter can feel like the culmination of all a student’s previous courses, and in many ways, it is. Many students struggle with calculus as a result of weak mathematics fundamentals. These weaknesses are where every good tutor must start when helping a student master his or her calculus class.

Calculus Tutoring: First Steps

A calculus tutor should initiate the sessions with a student by assessing which of the building blocks of calculus –algebra, geometry, and pre-algebra – are weakest by providing the student with problems that test these skills. The topics of functions, slopes, limits, trigonometry, graphing, and logs are among the most important to review as these are the key topics learned in pre-calculus and a mastery of these requires a mastery of the lower level material as well. At this point in time, it is beneficial for a tutor to introduce how these topics will relate to the work being learned in the calculus course itself. This provides the student with a strong foundation on which to stand for their upcoming work as well as a new way to frame the concepts.

Using Calculus Tutoring to Overcome Challenges with Motivation

A second issue students often encounter is motivation. Calculus has developed a reputation for something only aerospace engineers should be using but nothing could be further from the truth! An MIT course in calculus offers a calculus tutor an excellent jumping off point for helping a student recognize the importance (and the fun, though that’s a harder sell) of learning the material. The issue of motivation often stems from the seemingly esoteric nature of the methods involved in applying calculus to problems. For this, a good tutor must have an arsenal of analogies such as this one for explaining the application of a derivative or this one to elucidate an integral. Understanding how a student likes to solve problems – visually, logically, or by trial and error – can cue a tutor to what kind of analogies work best on an individual basis.

All students will learn calculus best not by memorizing the theorems of calculus but by working through, and many times struggling through, problems. Lots and lots of problems! However, it is difficult for even the best tutor to generate calculus practice work on the spot. The material is too complex and the potential for mid-problem error is high. In light of this, one of the best preparations a tutor can make to help his or her student is to amass an arsenal of resources from which he or she can draw problems from any part of the calculus curriculum. Because we live in this wonderfully digital age, tutors can find these kinds of problems for free from highly reputable sources such as Khan Academy, MIT Open Course Ware, and if the level of the course permits, the College Board AP Calculus site.

Having a wide variety of problems can also assist in any motivation issues a student can have. There are many real world examples that can be solved by calculus. A good tutor will take the time to learn which of these kinds of problems is of most interest to a student. In this way, a tutor can select problems that challenge a student’s weaknesses while simultaneously piquing his or her attention. One of the most popular, and perhaps most practical, kinds of problems is the application of compounding interest on an investment to teach of the concept of infinitesimal steps and review the concepts of limits.

The complexity of calculus and the intimidation students feel about the subject makes it a unique subject to tutor and requires the extra skills of a well-experienced tutor. Calculus starts off as a sprint, with a rapid review of nearly every mathematical concept a student has learned to date. From there the course becomes an obstacle course with the student encountering a new, more challenging, and seemingly different obstacle each week. A good tutor will be able to help the student move seamlessly through each of these obstacles by employing an arsenal of analogies to help explain the concepts along with problems to help teach them. Thus a good tutor is like an integral in this way, using many small infinitesimal steps to help the student get from point A to B. Better still, a good tutor will use these steps to get a student from a B to an A!

By Liz Iffrig

Lizz Iffrig grew up in Philadelphia, PA before attending MIT in Cambridge, MA. She graduated in June 2010 with a Bachelor’s of Science, double majoring in Chemistry and Biology with an unregistered minor in Literature focusing on classical literature. She recently completed her graduate studies, in which she simultaneously pursued a medical degree (MD) from Emory University and a PhD in Biological Engineering from Georgia Tech. During her graduate studies, Lizz tutored for Atlanta Tutors. Now she regularly contributes to our blog.