The 3 Rs – Helping Kids with Communication Disorders
Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic
Even though studying the 3 Rs might sound like an outdated approach to academics, reading, writing, and arithmetic are still foundations for learning. Children who are challenged with speech and communication disorders may need extra support to form solid foundations in these subjects. While the diagnosis and therapy treatment plans will vary for children with speech and communication disorders, there are several tools that can help children build stronger skills for their 3 Rs, and benefit communication skills as well.
Building Reading Skills in Kids with Communication Disorders
Choose Interest Over Skill – Research shows that children who struggle with reading often continue to struggle because more emphasis is placed on improving reading skills than on finding something that interests the child; there is actually a name for this occurrence – The Matthew Effect. Kids who are strong readers are comfortable reading even those books that don’t interest them, while struggling readers usually have a limited range of topics on which they will willingly read. Research also shows that kids who struggle with reading should be encouraged to read books where they know at least 90% of the vocabulary – known as high interest/low reading level books.
- Try graphic novels and comics – the pages can seem less intimidating for struggling readers.
- Help your child select books that don’t have elements such as flashbacks or changes in narration. These elements can make it harder to concentrate on the storyline.
- Preview the books for sentence structures to make sure that they are short (even if they sound too short for you).
Building Writing Skills in Kids with Communication Disorders
End the Overwhelming Task – For children who struggle with writing, there can be too many overwhelming expectations for the task to be completed. Think of all of the components to writing a short essay, including:
- Neat handwriting
- Correct punctuation
- Proper organization of thoughts
- Correct sentence structure
- Accurate analysis or essay answer
- Correct spelling
Instead of being overwhelmed by all of these expectations, work with your child’s teacher to have him select 2 or 3 specific goals towards which he can work for each assignment. If your child continues to struggle with writing, despite adjusted expectations and other services in the school, consider having him tested for dysgraphia, a learning disorder which can significantly impact writing abilities.
Building Arithmetic Skills in Kids with Communication Disorders
Build Skills Through Manipulation – Often referred to as manipulatives, hands-on tools such as blocks, cuisinarre rods, and other tangible objects can make mathematics easier for kids with communication disorders. Children who struggle with attention, communication, and other issues often struggle to quickly grasp new math concepts, especially when they are presented in traditional chalk-board methods. Instead of the focus being on listening to the instructions and reading the examples on the board, the focus moves to doing when manipulatives are introduced. Try incorporating math manipulatives at home to help with homework or work with your child’s teacher to see if they are available during class.
- Abacus – This ancient form of mathematics isn’t outdated – especially for kids who struggle with math. Easy tutorials like these make mastering the abacus even more possible.
- Peg Boards – These tools are great for counting, sequencing, recognizing patterns, and even basic math computations.
- 3D Learning – Items like cubes help kids discover geometry skills.
- Tangrams – These plastic puzzle pieces help build logic skills necessary for math. You can create your own with cardstock for specific puzzles or invest in a basic plastic set.
Kids who struggle with speech and communication disorders don’t have to always feel the struggles with the 3 Rs. Building skills at home and working with teachers to implement these strategies in the classroom can help to remove struggling from reader, writer, and mathematician.