Children with slow processing are often very bright children with good capabilities. They take longer to process information and organise their thoughts but if given the time they need, will surprise you with their intelligence. Empathic understanding and supportive strategies will help them show their real ability. Here are some strategies for class and homework which are easy to introduce even into a busy school class. Give them a try and you will be rewarded by seeing some of the children seem to suddenly burst into bloom!
v When giving verbal instructions, write key words and key steps on the board. Remind the children to use the words on the board to organise their approach to the task.
v When work is to be done on printed worksheets, help children with slow processing find and highlight the key words of the instructions and help them find where to begin.
v In long “story sums”, train children with slow processing to highlight the key words.
v In class quizzes do not suddenly ask them a question; they need time to process the question and the answer and then will be able to give a good answer, pleasing both you and themselves.
v Helping children with slow processing develop good “brainstorming” techniques for essay writing will not only improve their essays in class and for homework; but is an important technique for when they begin to write formal examinations.
v When teaching new work to children with slow processing, show how it links to earlier work. This helps them access the earlier work and use it as a support. As an example: when they begin to learn cursive: showing children with slow processing how most letters are almost exactly the same as the printed version, this will allow them to enjoy quick success in learning them and then be able to focus on learning the others.
v For homework, use an analogue clock to work, divide the work into parts and determine how long should be spent on each (this can be done by noting how long it took the previous day). Do not rush children with slow processing but let them be aware of time. Children who process slowly often have difficulty being aware of time and therefore struggle to complete tasks in a given amount of time. Training children with slow processing in time awareness and time management will help them when they begin writing formal examinations.
v Children with slow processing should be given extra time for formal examinations.
SHARON STANSFIELD BSc(OT)
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