Tips for Modifying Reading Lessons for Special Needs Students
Many students with special needs have a hard time reading. This can make them feel like they will never be able to do the work.
As para-educators and teacher's aides, it is our job to sometimes think on our feet. Often times we don't have a chance to view the material before the class begins. Here are some strategies that can help students feel more successful.
Strategies for Reading in the Classroom
If it can be done, see if you can divide the class into small groups. Put the children who are slow readers and slow learners in one group. This will give you the opportunity to read the material out loud and stop to ask questions to make sure they are understanding the text.
You will also want to make sure that if there are discussion questions after the reading is finished and that you got a copy of the questions from the teacher in the classroom. This is another way our children feel successful as they can participate more fully in the discussions with their classmates.
If your student has a really hard time decoding, you can sit next to him or, better yet, partner him with a good reader who can quietly help him when it is his turn to read. I think it is always a good idea to give this child small bits to read and as he feels more comfortable, he will read more in a classroom setting.
It is very helpful for you to make an outline of important facts from the material. You can then go over the material with the student later. Sometimes the child is so focused on failure that he has an even harder time paying attention. It also helps when one of the children is absent to have the material to go over with them.
Another good strategy is to provide verbal prompts like "Look here" if you notice them not following along. You can also just point to the spot on the page. Sometimes this is enough to remind the student to pay attention.
Sometimes the teacher’s guide is a good resource for extra help in simplifying the subject matter.
When the reading is done, ask the student to tell you the main idea of the material. Make sure they understand before the discussion in the class begins.
I feel that one of the most important jobs of a para-educator is to help the child feel comfortable in being included in the regular education classroom.