Therapy vs Tutoring

Which will best help my child?

Understanding the differences between a speech-language therapist and a tutor can help guide your decision when seeking support for your child. Start here to get a better idea of the options available and which may be the right choice for your child.

It is very important to ensure that your child will get the best outcome for the time and money that you invest in intervention. Individuals with dyslexia need practice and repetition to master newly learned skills and this takes time. Essentially, more is better; but you do need to consider what works best for you given such things as your child's age and attention span, daily activities, or constraints in your schedule. Your child will get little benefit out of a session that comes at the end of a very long day.

Historically, speech-language and reading therapy sessions have been scheduled twice weekly for 30–60 minutes. We do know that scheduling more frequent sessions each week can have a positive effect on outcomes. Daily intervention is ideal. The length of the session should be long enough to get work done, but not so long as to fatigue your son or daughter. It follows that older individuals will be able to tolerate longer sessions.

If you have limited financial resources like so many of us do, it is better to have the sessions scheduled more frequently over a short period than to spread the same number of sessions over a longer period. Having therapy on a more intensive schedule allows your child to experience success at a faster rate, which leads to positive beliefs about learning and enhances motivation.

When securing intervention services be sure to ask about the training and experience of the professional (see the Find a Professional page).

In our profession of speech-language pathology we are frequently asked how our services differ from tutoring. We've outlined some of those differences to help you find the professional that best meets your needs.

Speech-language therapy



  • An SLP holds certification from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and may need state licensure. ASHA requires SLPs to maintain professional credentials that include ongoing continuing education.

  • SLPs are trained in selecting, implementing, adapting, and interpreting assessment tools and methods to evaluate skills in spoken language, both comprehension and use.
  • An SLP may have received additional training in reading, spelling, and writing to specialize in literacy and dyslexia.
  • An SLP will provide therapy with individual goals based on testing results and will periodically assess the student’s progress toward those goals using standardized and informal testing measures.
  • An SLP may have a background in a variety of literacy programs and be able to select from one program or parts of programs that may best work for each student.



  • Tutors may be a student who excels in a specific area of study, a teacher, or a person who is interested in helping people. They may or may not have any formal training and they are not required to have ongoing professional development training.
  • Tutors typically are not trained to administer diagnostic assessments, and therefore rely on others to administer these tests. 
  • Tutors may have a limited background or training in specific reading programs or approaches.


  • An SLP who has additional training in literacy and learning disabilities can provide a complete assessment of the student's language, phonological awareness, reading, spelling, and writing. All of these pieces are important to learning to read. Knowing where you or your child's strengths and weaknesses are in each area is invaluable to planning the individual treatment program.



  • The tutor's role is typically to help the student "catch up" when behind academically rather than to remediate underlying, foundation skills.
  • The purpose of tutoring is to speed up the learning process, make up the skills the child has lost, and get them back up to the instructional level so the teacher in the classroom can continue the learning process with the child.
  • Tutoring attempts to help the student master the material at-hand and become confident in their learning process.



  • SLPs will collaborate with teachers and families to plan intervention goals and activities, as well as modifying curricula to keep students progressing in the general education setting.
  • An SLP will write goals that are observable, measurable, and will delineate a time frame to achieve them.



  • Tutors may or may not set goals for their students.
  • Tutors can both reinforce subjects that are taught in school and teach students how to work independently. Students often become more self-confident after working with a tutor.



  • An SLP will also provide recommendations for both school and home.
  • An SLP will provide you with a written progress report containing information about results of treatment (i.e., progress towards goals and what was done to work towards them), recommendations for continued treatment (i.e., set new goals), and recommendations for school and home.
  • An SLP may accompany you as a parent to an IEP meeting or you to a meeting with your supervisor or professor and assist in making recommendations and supporting you in the process.



  • Tutors typically use assessments in a tutoring session and do not make recommendations for home and school.
  • Given that tutors typically do not write goals, they usually do not measure progress or write up progress reports.

If you select a tutor for your child with dyslexia:

  • It is essential that a student with dyslexia work with a tutor who is trained to use the appropriate multisensory techniques. Be sure to ask about training, experience, and references.
  • Schedule a minimum of two lessons a week. Students with learning disabilities need practice and repetition to master their lessons and it takes time to see improvement.