Learning Challenges

Remember More from the Page

Help kids remember and understand what they’ve read with these tips for teachers and parents.

Open book on grass
Open book on grass

Students with ADHD often complain to their parents and teachers, “I’ve read the whole page, but I don’t remember a thing.” Difficulty remembering what is read is caused by executive function deficits. The following strategies can help kids remember and comprehend more of what they read.

Tools for Teachers

Structure the lesson, but accommodate students’ different learning styles. Structured reading — the teacher reads a passage first, then the student, then together — limits stress for challenged readers, and also allow students to map the routine in their mind. Let a child stand at his desk or walk around the room when reading.

Create interest in the words on the page. Gestures, facial expressions, and movement will keep a student’s focus during a reading lesson. Air Spell allows a student to practice spelling vocabulary words by writing them in the air with his finger. Response cards enable students to demonstrate their understanding of a reading passage. Write “yes” or “no” and “a,” “b,” or “c,” on cards and have kids use them to answer questions.

[Self-Test: Does Your Child Have a Working Memory Deficit?]

Use color and sound. Colored overlays for words, sentences, or pieces of text increase reader involvement. Listening to audio books and having students read aloud to themselves also improve comprehension. Use music to alert students that you are moving to the next reading topic.

Go beyond lectures to teach new material. The technique called “carouseling” will help kids retain more of what they read. Students form small groups and respond to questions written on posters, hung up around the room, about the reading assignment. The teacher gives them time to discuss and form a response to a question on one of the posters. After the allotted time, the groups will move to the next question.

Practice reading in different ways. Have everyone in the class read together at the same time. This is an excellent strategy when using a short piece to focus on. Read or re-read a passage orally to the class, leaving out key words. Give students a short, interesting passage to read. They re-read it until fluency increases, and they record their progress on a graph.

Pointers for Parents

Team up. Read to and with your child every day. Take turns reading paragraphs or pages. You read the pages on the left, and she reads the pages on the right. Read in unison, as you run your finger under the words.

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Handle difficult words. If your child mis-reads a word, immediately tell her the correct word. Have her track the word with her finger and read it aloud three times. Then ask your child to re-read the sentence with the word in it, and then continue on.

Give her a pass. Give your child a blank piece of paper. After he reads a short passage, give him one to two minutes to write down everything he can about what he just read. When he is done, he hands it to you and gets a short break. Repeat the process.

Make it brief — and fun. Struggling readers are intimidated by long books with too few illustrations. Give them age-appropriate picture books that have minimal text, joke and riddle books, comic books and magazines, and sheet music with lyrics.

Color-highlight key information. Photocopy a chapter/unit from your child’s textbook and have him highlight important words and definitions in one color and the main ideas in another.

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