Reading and Study Strategies for Students with Learning Disabilities

Reading and Study Strategies for Children with Learning Disabilities
Reading and study strategies are essential for success in school and in the workforce.

Identify Areas of Weakness

The first step to improving a child’s reading and study skills is to correctly identify the specific problem areas. From there, parents and teachers can evaluate the current method of studying to see how much time is spent in preparing for tests and how well a child is performing on different assessments.

Study Strategies

Children are often unaware of the amount of material to be learned in an upcoming unit.

Parents and teachers can help a child by previewing concepts that will be learned in that chapter/unit. Providing a list of new vocabulary terms, formulas, and dates gives an early exposure that many children need in order for subsequent learning to take place. To help a child process and store information better, it would be beneficial to review any notes taken from a previous lesson.  Begin your study session with the most difficult material, while you are most alert, and proceed by studying or completing easier subject matter.

Help children get into a daily routine of including a review as part of their “to-do list" on their daily calendar.  At the end of the week, dedicate 30-45 minutes per subject to review assigned reading, notes taken in class, and previous homework assignments. Children with learning disabilities may benefit from visually reviewing material through flash cards, mind maps, or short summaries.

Reading Strategies

There are different strategies that can help children with learning disabilities make best use of their time in an effective and efficient manner. A child should become familiar with the setup of the book. Locate the Table of Contents, Glossary, Index, and any other parts to help quickly locate information.

It is important for children with learning disabilities to use specific strategies that work best for their needs. Skimming, scanning, and active reading strategies are useful for students in elementary, secondary, and even college-level education.

Provided are some active reading strategies that children can use:

  • Depending on the format of the book and content to be learned, reading the chapter’s specific objectives helps to introduce the main idea(s) of that section/chapter.
  • Read headings, subheadings, introduction, and summaries.
  • If the text does not contain headings, locate other key information that is new and relevant to the main idea.
  • Review bolded words.
  • Study pictures, graphs, tables, etc. and read their captions.
  • Look for any sidebar information.
  • Answer and review any questions or problems at the end of each chapter.
  • Turn headings, subheadings, or topic sentences of a paragraph into questions to answer. These questions can later be used as summary points to create a study guide and better remember information for an exam.
  • Actively engage with the text by talking aloud and discussing the material.

Parents should speak with teachers about appropriate accommodations for their children and how to best develop their reading and study skills. Encourage a child to write down any words or concepts that are not clearly understood on a sticky note so they can be reviewed and clarified by the teacher the following day.

Author Byline: Dr. Douglas Haddad is an author, nutritionist, and middle school teacher in Connecticut who is a regular contributing writer to Parenting Special Needs magazine in the “Ask the Professional: Dr. Doug” section. For more information on empowering your kids and assisting in their maturation, decision-making, overall development and well-being, visit Dr. Doug’s official website.

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