This is an Intervention, Not Tutoring

By January 15, 2021 No Comments

Among the responsibilities that we have as parents, there is one that is very important: make sure that our children’s school life is as enjoyable as possible.  By doing so, we need to provide them with enough stimulation and love since they are born, therefore by the time they are ready to face this challenge, we hope we have given them basic foundations, especially stability, love and eagerness to discover and learn new things.

For some, their children’s learning is not a challenge, in contrast for others, the school experience starts showing complexity and frustration since the very first day. It does not necessarily need to be at academic level, it could also be at social-emotional level, and both manifestations can really impact the learning process. When these struggles start and become more obvious, there are some steps, that teachers, support staff and parents must follow in order to overcome, as much as possible, these difficulties.  All these steps together are called: AN INTERVENTION.

There are abundant tools offered to students with or without learning disabilities in order to help them achieve their goals, and among them I have chosen INTERVENTIONS and TUTORING.


The names given to these stages were created by me since this is the way I have worked during a social emotional, academic intervention for more than 20 years, and I keep modifying them in order to suit the needs of the clients as much as possible.


  • The child is showing constant struggle in grasping concepts that are expected for his/her grade level.
  • The teacher not only is aware of that, but devotes extra time and presents the concept to be reinforced in different ways (manipulatives, graphs, songs, etc.) in order to help the student to grasp the concept he/she is struggling with.
  • No significant changes can be seen; therefore, the lead teacher informs the school’s psychologist.
  • The parents are invited to school to let them know about the situation, and the way their son/daughter will be helped


  • In this stage the interventionist gets together with the family and the student/son/daughter/ in order to start getting familiar to each other, as well as implementing the changes that need to be carried out in different areas.
  • Parents must receive guidance of how to help outside the school, together with clear examples, materials and expectations.
  • Closest relatives and coaches are also informed about expectations and behaviors that are on target.
  • The same day a notebook is given to the parents as a home-school journal in order to have constant communication of achievements and areas of growth.

If the patient’s diagnosis is mild autism, for example, there should be changes in:
· Noise level
· Routines
· Food
· Clothing
· Chores….


If the patient’s diagnosis is mild autism, for example there should be changes in:
· School arrival
· Dropping off
· Greeting
· Accommodations in the setting
· Modifications of curriculum and material
· Assessments….

Extracurricular Activities

If the patient’s diagnosis is mild autism, for example, there should be changes in:
· Guardian training
· Schedule setting
· Modifications of activities….

Relatives and coaches

If the patient’s diagnosis is mild autism, for example, there should be changes in:
· Sharing rules
· Sharing commands
· Deescalating behavior procedures….

Trial and Error 

  • Once the given diagnosis is given, different interventions (physical, psychiatric, social, emotional, academic, etc.) start to take place using what they considered is best according to the clients’ individual strengths and weaknesses. At the same time, data is being gather in order to, either continue with what is being implemented, or adjust it any time is needed. n

    At the emotional level, a FUNCTIONAL BEHAVIOR ASSESSMENT (FBI)is carried out. The purpose is to see what type of disturbed behaviors are present, why are they happening, what is triggering them, the antecedent of the behavior, the consequences given to them. Data is gathered and presented by means of a BEHAVIOR INTERVENTION PLAN (BIP) which is nothing different to what will be implemented in order to change all the behaviors that are not letting the client succeed or achieve the goal as much as possible.


  • Since a system of constant communication is set between parents, teachers and support team in order to track student’s progress, then every two weeks for the first three months, then once a month, and finally every other month until goals are achieved.
  • If the yearly goals were not achieved, parents, support team, patient, etc., all get together to evaluate the year and plan for the next year.


As I promised, now that we have clear what an intervention is, let’s discuss what TUTORING entails.  The role of the tutor is to accompany an academic process that was interrupted due to a sickness, moving from one place to another one, changing schools, etc, in that moment it is necessary to receive the help of a tutor which will perform the following duties:

  • Implement an informal academic evaluation to determine the academic level of the student.
  • Based on the results, start providing the foundations of the concepts needed to continue improving until achieving the expected goals.
  • Evaluate the student in each new skill constantly in order to monitor growth.
  • Present this constant work to parents to let them know achievements and areas of improvement.

I hope that after reading this blog you will remember that we all have areas that are enormously difficult for us, therefore, when you or others need help, decide if what you need is an intervention or a tutoring because they have nothing in common.

Alicia Donovan