4 Ways to Make Reading Fun for Special Needs Kids

Activities like reading can do a lot to engage a child’s brain by stimulating their imagination, boosting their cognitive thinking, and critical problem-solving skills, as well as teaching them how to be empathetic or how to understand abstract ideas. Reading can be a challenge for parents of children with learning disabilities and other special needs, and the benefits of reading can be challenging as well. Like any kid with reading, or other activities, it helps to find out what works best for your child and what methods may help engage them to read, encourage them to improve their skills, and to get the most out of the experience overall.

Make it Interactive

Many kids with special needs, especially those on the spectrum, use their brains to understand the world around them in different ways. By stimulating more of your child’s senses in a more visual and tactile manner can help reading come alive for them and engage them in ways that just reading alone may not be able to. Alternatively, some kids respond more to certain types of stimulation than others, too. For instance, some kids may be audible learners and others may be visual learners. Try to appeal to what makes the most sense for them.

Certain activities can be more than just fun interactive things to do in addition to or in conjunction with reading, but they can help play to the particular strengths of kids with special needs. Provide a child with ADHD who learns best by moving by making a game out of it. For a child with Down Syndrome who loves imitating the world around them, recreate stories and scenes with stuffed animals or puppets for an audience of family members.

Find Common Ground

Many kids tend to fixate on certain topics, characters, or things whether they be a character from a cartoon or movie, a hobby like trains, or they may be hyper-focused on a particular subject like outer space. These interests can influence what kinds of toys and activities your child likes to seek out and enjoy, but it can also help you find books that might interest them too.  Identify what appeals to your child on other levels – what kind of toys or activities do they generally enjoy? What are their favorite shows and movies? Looking for books about these things or books that feature certain topics, events, or other features can be what draws your child into reading. If there is a book about something they like and already engage with, reading about it can be another thing they can enjoy as well.

Relevant Struggles

Kids with special needs may struggle with reaching milestones at certain ages, and reading may be one of them. Finding a book that helps kids with these struggles, whether it is a book that helps teach them to read or about a particular subject like potty training or riding a bike, will engage them in new and creative ways. Stories of another child going through the same struggle as them can make children feel empowered and less alone but also more inclined to reading. Reading is an essential life skill, but it can also open kids up to learning new things about the world around them, but most importantly themselves. Books about other topics, subjects and ideas can be helpful, but a book that resonates with your child on a more personal level may be the thing that really gets them hooked on reading or helps them feel more comfortable with themselves.

Finding Role Models

Kids with special needs may struggle with issues revolving around self-image and their own self-confidence, so in addition to finding books about similar struggles, you can also find books about famous people with learning disabilities and other handicaps. This can help kids realize that they can accomplish anything, too, and that their special need or disability does not limit them as much as other people may say they do. You can look for books about people like author, political activist, and lecturer Helen Keller (deaf and blind), Noble Prize-winning geneticist Carol Greider (learning disabilities), film director Steven Spielberg (ADHD), and animal scientist Temple Grandin (autistic spectrum disorder).

Mastering the Art of Homework Help

As parents, you need to help teach and guide your child until they can become fully independent individuals. Some parents may feel as if they are doing their children a favor if they do something for them instead, but this can be detrimental in the long run. If your child is used to having things done for them, they do not learn to be resourceful and will depend on others even when they are older. This can be tricky for parents who may not know how to help their kids, especially with things like homework.

Helping kids with homework can be particularly troublesome for several reasons. You may fall into one of two categories: 1) you may end up doing the assignment for them without teaching them anything or 2) you may not remember how to complete the homework your child was given. Therefore, we have some tips on how to tackle homework trouble and make sure that your kids get a better grasp on their school assignments as well.

Let Kids Set a Routine
It’s important for parents to enforce the idea of doing homework, but forcing a child to get work done may not end up working in your favor. Parents can guide kids into finding a time and place that helps them focus and think the best. Some kids work better with more structure, whether they are in a library or setting up their assignments in a parent’s study.  Other kids however may enjoy more casual settings like the living room or in the kitchen with a snack to help get them motivated.

Once kids find out what works best for them in terms of location, environment and other factors, getting the actual homework done will be much easier.

Oversee, not Takeover
Being around to answer questions or clarify homework instructions is helpful, but it’s important that parents still let their children complete work on their own. Even if you see something incorrect, try to get them to see the mistake or the misunderstanding themselves but try not to intervene too much. If your child is having difficulties with their work, give them some time to figure it out first on their own. If your child asks for help, tell th
em that you’ll be with them in a minute or when you’re done doing whatever it is you’re doing while they work, giving them some time to think about their problem or question before you sweep in to rescue them. If they ask you to help with every single homework question they have, they may have a bigger problem or they may be relying on you to get their homework done quicker and easier.

It’s Okay to Ask for Help, too!
As a parent, it’s probably been awhile since you’ve done any long division and you may not completely remember all the names of the presidents. Your kids may ask you for help with homework that you aren’t sure how to answer clearly yourself, but it is important that you use this opportunity as a learning experience instead of making something up or faking it. Consulting educational websites, Google or other tools can help you assist your child’s more difficult homework questions – but parents be warned! The Internet, library, and other sources can be helpful and it’s great to teach kids how to use resources, too, but when it comes to tools like calculators or the Internet, it’s important to also teach kids that taking shortcuts may be easy but is not always the answer. Know where to draw the line. For example, some math problems can only be completed using calculators, but if your child’s homework calls for them to complete a long division problem and show their work, limit calculator usage to simply testing answers, or in the case of the internet, limit Google searches for questions needing clarification.

As your child gets older, their homework will change and so will their habits. No matter what, it’s vital that kids learn on their own, even (and sometimes especially) when they make mistakes. Encourage them to ask questions but to also be independent and resourceful when trying to find an answer before relying on someone else.

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How to Learn Reading Using Sound Reading and Phonemic Awareness

Reading is one of the most focused-upon areas of academia. It is the key to learning most anything else. The ability to read well, understand abstract concepts and to communicate effectively is essential not only in the academic world but in the world at large, so it is no wonder why reading skills are so heavily emphasized in school. So why aren’t more teachers and schools focusing on tactics that really help kids to read well?

Numerous studies have been conducted over the years testing the effectiveness of teaching methods and angles, and now there is software available that can help children to read better much more easily than ever before, the main problem being that many educators may simply not be aware that it exists.

Sound Reading Solutions is a revolutionary piece of software that focuses on phonemic awareness, something that many studies have shown other methods are lacking in. But what is phonemic awareness? Phonemic awareness is a subset of phonological awareness in which listeners are able to hear, identify and manipulate phonemes, the smallest units of sound that can differentiate meaning. For instance, you can separate the spoken word “cat” into three distinct phonemes, /k/, /æ/, and /t/. In order to do this, you need an understanding of phonemic awareness.

This sort of skill can be especially helpful for children reading words they have never read before, and may not even know at all, allowing them to sound out the words and create a sense of meaning within their minds regardless of their knowledge or lack thereof. Vocabulary building is essential, and many children can continue to learn larger concepts on their own, including words that they may not be familiar with, by gathering and insinuating some sort of meaning from phonemic understanding.

According to studies conducted by Vickie Snider, phonemic awareness has a direct correlation with a student’s’ ability to read as they get older. Phonemic awareness builds a foundation for students to understand the rules of the English language, as well, which can be especially helpful with speaking, writing and communicating effectively. These sorts of skills also provide kids with skills that they can apply to increase their oral reading fluency and understanding of the text.

Sound Reading Solutions provides exercises and other helpful tools that allow children to build phonemic awareness at different grade levels, which can help them to become better readers overall. Sound Reading programs heighten speech and language abilities by teaching students the skills they need to read with ease and confidence.  We urge you to take a look at this software and see how it will help your child read easily and on their own.

Please be sure to check back here for reading tips and parenting resources on a weekly basis and KDNovelties.com for personalized books that promote literacy in a unique way.

Sound Reading Software from Sound Reading on Vimeo.