Many parents and teachers who see capable kids falling behind in their schoolwork find that slow processing speed is the underlying cause. In the recent past, many educators and parents thought that the only solution to slow processing speed was to make accommodations for students so they had less work to do or more time to complete it. However, increased understanding and the advent of some very cool technologies have made it even easier to manage and improve processing speed in children.
Assessing slow processing speed is fairly simple. A variety of basic neuropsychological tests can be administered to assess many facets of processing speed. And once you know for sure that slow processing speed is the problem, you can get to work immediately helping your child adapt. Here are some of the best strategies to improve processing speed in children:
Use technologies that increase reading speed. There are many different reading apps that can help increase reading speed. Some programs light words up and then black them out as one reads across the line, others scroll at varying rates. Gradually increasing the speed of the blackout or scroll effect can kids increase their reading speed.
Do crossword puzzles, Sudoku, or play online brain games. Basic memorization exercises and logic puzzles will keep a brain sharp and processing information quickly.
Play video games that practice the facets of information processing. Research suggests that video games that call on multiple steps of processing — intake, internal processing and output, and sustained visual scanning — can improve reading comprehension and fluid intelligence skills. Examples of these beneficial games: Bejeweled, Triple Town, and Monster Busters.
Teach typing skills. Practicing dictation can increase processing speed. Play a short recording or speak aloud for a few minutes and have your child transcribe what they hear into an online notepad or a word processor. This will help them learn the location of the keys, increase their typing speed, and visualize aural input. Keyboarding programs for children include TapTyping and Burning Fingers. See our article, “12 Strategies to Teach Typing for Kids.”
Beat your best time. Practicing timed activities can help build processing speed. Even something as simple as a challenge to find someone’s number in the phonebook or a word in the dictionary. Time how long it takes and then practice to reduce that time. Other examples of timed activities include:
- Quickly find and correctly count out change from a group of coins.
- Find two food items from an array of food products in the grocery store or pantry.
- Play slapjack or other fast-paced card games.
- Play a video game like Shape Up for the Xbox One Kinect that exercises short-term and working memory and pits you against the computer or your own best time.
We have many articles here on the LW4K blog that explain slow processing speed in children, how to adapt to parenting a child with slow processing speed, the similarities between slow processing speed and executive function disorders, and the best web resources for helping kids with slow processing speed.
Featured image: Flickr user Monica H.