Going Virtual, Creatively!

Tutoring virtually certainly presents its challenges. “Can you hear me now?” There are many things tutors have to do differently to reach and engage our participants. Individuals with Down syndrome learn better in a multi-sensory approach but that can be challenging to present the learners with things to hold and manipulate when meeting virtually. The tutors at GiGi’s Playhouse Detroit always bring their A Game and are no strangers to getting creative.  

Jennifer & Natalia break through barriers

Jennifer, a literacy tutor, is working with Natalia this Spring Session. She had never tutored for us before and was very eager to volunteer! Her first meeting with Natalia was a little rocky as they navigated the best way to communicate with each other. Natalia’s mom said that she understands everything that is being said to her but has a difficult time verbalizing her responses. Natalia surprised Jennifer on their first meeting by finding the chat feature in Teams and was able to answer a few questions there. Then, on their next meeting Natalia brought her stuffed dog. She would nod his head yes or no to help her answer the questions. Jennifer discovered Natalia is a huge fan of the Disney show Austin and Ally. She worked with one of our Literacy Coordinators to make signs with pictures of each of the characters. Jennifer would then customize the materials they work with so if there was a multiple choice question instead of choices a, b, or c, Natalia has to choose which Austin and Ally character is next to the correct choice and holds up a picture to communicate her choice.   

Jennifer is so proud of the progress Natalia is making, and Natalia is enjoying seeing her favorite characters involvedin her literacy work. Tutoring can be tricky in the best of situations. It takes a while to get to know each other and figure out how the participant will learn best. Thank you Jennifer for being so creative and thank you Natalia for continuing to work hard and persevere through the challenges of virtual tutoring! Progress is being made because no one gave up!  

Ready to jump in?

Would you like to become a math or literacy tutor? We are now enrolling for our Summer Session. If you are interested in becoming a tutor please fill out our tutor application here.


  1. Rosanne Brogno on April 18, 2021 at 9:20 am

    I’m so proud of Jennifer and Natalia and the progress they’ve made. It is dedication to the program that will produce success for all special people.

  2. Kathie Banks on April 18, 2021 at 2:52 pm

    Hi Jen, Great job working with Natalia . Searching for what motivates someone is certainly the key. You’re such a fantastic special educator. You make a difference!
    Love, Kathie

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