Students with disabilities are just like other kids, they want to be successful. It is our job as teachers to give them the tools they need. I am not going to tell you which program to use, as there are hundreds of reading programs, and your school district may not give you a choice of program. What you need to know is how to effectively use any program to teach your students with disabilities. With a few simple strategies your students will beg to read.
Get Them Excited
One of the most effective ways to get children excited about reading is to read to them. All kids love to listen to a read aloud, even resistant readers. Play it up big, use different character voices, ham it up. Kids love it when you become an actor and bring a book to life. Even older kids love to listen to read alouds, just choose a novel and read a chapter a day. The more you enjoy reading to the students, the more they will pick up on your excitement.
Teachers are busy and stressed with ever increasing state mandates. You may feel that you don’t have the time to follow the reading program’s full set of materials, but they are built on years of research and they progress through the reading skills in a specific order. It is important for you to use the program’s sequence of skills, especially for students with disabilities. Follow the program and you will see your students’ abilities and confidence begin to grow. Each small successes will give your students confidence and the motivation to continue improving.
Students who are struggling are not going to want to read. They will act out, waste time, and do almost anything to avoid reading. To get them to do the necessary practice to get better at reading, they have to actually read, but they don’t want to read because it is hard. This downward cycle will only be broken by giving the students something to motivate them. This can be a reward such as computer time, running errands, or having lunch with the teacher. The computer can also itself be a motivator, there are many effective reading programs. You just have to look around.
Increase Concentration for Sustained Reading
Probably the most difficult thing to get students to do is read for more than five minutes. It is especially hard for you to get students with disabilities to engage in sustained reading. You can help them by finding exciting texts and challenging them to read for longer periods each day. Start with five minutes, then add one minute a week. If you make it a challenge and time them, the kids may read for longer periods of time, which will build their skills.
Use Healthy Competition
If you let the students compete against themselves or each other, they may be motivated to work harder. All kids love a competition. They will work for a good score, or to be first in a competition. You can make it a class competition, or have the students compete against themselves by improving their score each week. The main idea is to give them a push to read longer each week.
Put It All Together
If you will give your students with disabilities the extra time and follow these simple tips, then you will motivate your students, give them small successes, they will begin to work hard and build on that success and soon be begging to read.