Instructional strategies

At a Glance: Classroom Accommodations for Slow Processing Speed

By Kate Kelly

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Kids with slow processing speed can have trouble keeping up in class, participating in discussions and staying focused. Here are some classroom accommodations that may help.

1.8kFound this helpful
At a Glance: Classroom Accommodations to Help Kids With Slow Processing Speed

Processing speed on its own may not be enough to qualify for classroom accommodations. But if your child qualifies for other reasons, here are some strategies that teachers can try to help with processing speed.

In-Class Learning
• Check in from time to time to make sure the student understands the lesson.
• Use a signal to engage the student if he appears to be losing focus.
• Encourage participation by giving the student extra time to respond to questions in class.
• Encourage the student to email questions or concerns if he has trouble coming up with them during class.

• Provide simple written directions and also speak slowly when giving directions.
• Use graphs and other visual aids and explain out loud what they mean.
• Provide an outline of the lesson or notes for students who can’t write fast enough or who have trouble multitasking.
• Give the student an extra set of textbooks to keep at home if he often forgets to bring what he needs to or from school.
• Use text-to-speech software and books with audio if it helps the student to see and hear the words at the same time.

Organization and Time Management
• Create daily class routines and stick to them.
• Break down big assignments into smaller pieces with more deadlines.
• Show what a completed project looks like before the student begins.
• Establish clear starting points for tasks rather than just giving a due date.
• Provide a checklist or rubric at the beginning of the assignment with details about how the project will be graded.
• Find ways to engage the student’s interests to help motivate him to complete lengthy assignments.

Classwork and Tests The Teacher Can:
• Reduce the need for handwriting. Examples include using fill-in-the-blank questions or allowing work to be done on a computer.
• Use methods other than worksheets to reinforce new concepts.
• Shorten repetitive assignments such as letting the student do only the even-number problems.
• Limit the amount of time spent on daily homework assignments and let parents sign off on any unfinished portions.
• Give options other than written reports for the student to show what he knows.
• Provide a quiet space for tests so the student can talk himself through the questions without disrupting other kids.
• Provide extended time for tests.
• Offer the student a chance to improve grades by letting him correct test answers and explain how he corrected them.
• Grade the student’s work based on his mastery of information rather than on work completed.

The Student Can:
• Reduce distractions by using blank pieces of paper to cover all but one of the questions on a worksheet.
• Use a highlighter or sticky notes to be an active reader and to stay focused.
• Listen to audio instead of reading or while reading.
Graphic of At a Glance: Classroom Accommodations to Help Kids With Slow Processing Speed
Graphic of At a Glance: Classroom Accommodations to Help Kids With Slow Processing Speed

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About the Author

Portrait of Kate Kelly

Kate Kelly has been writing and editing for more than 20 years, with a focus on parenting.

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Portrait of Ellen Braaten

Ellen Braaten, Ph.D., is the director of the Learning and Emotional Assessment Program at Massachusetts General Hospital.

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