Kids with slow processing speed face many struggles at school. But while they may never become super fast or efficient, teachers and parents can help these kids improve their pace of processing information and capacity to keep up with their peers. We can teach skills, strategies, and shortcuts that can help these kids and use technologies such as typing, dictation, and time management apps to increase productivity. Practice with academics, learning visual scanning skills, and competition can also modestly improve processing speed. And believe it or not, playing certain types of video games can also directly improve some types of processing speed.
However, making significant improvements in processing speed is a time-consuming process. In the classroom it is important to make some adjustments to expectations–accommodations–that acknowledge that slow processing speed is not purposeful. Even more importantly, these accommodations eliminate or at least reduce some of the self-esteem and motivational side effects of students who identify themselves as less capable than their peers.
Here are some accommodations that can help students with slow processing speed:
Allow extra time in a subtle fashion. Give students more time in class to finish tests and assignments.
Make technology children’s best friend. Find tools that help children with slow processing speed go faster in the classroom. Consider how a bicycle is a far more efficient form of transportation than walking. Think about how typing, dictation, or even getting a scribe can enhance the productivity of children with slow processing speed.
Practice makes perfect and also makes it faster. Use the same type of materials, books, software, and directions repeatedly, so that children with slow processing do not have to slow down to consider how to approach a task.
Make things shorter at home and school. Reduce the frustration and negative self-esteem many kids with slow processing speed experience when they are the last to complete tasks. Give private directions that allow children to do a few less examples.
Be patient with kids who display slow processing speed. Give them more time to formulate an answer, complete classroom assignments, and make choices when deciding what to do.
Get to the point early so students can see the big picture. Provide students with an overview of what you want them to learn and accomplish. Use pre-teaching and organizers to ready students for upcoming tasks so they can set a personal goal for completing a task.
You can find more classroom strategies for kids with slow processing speed here.
Featured image: Flickr user Cristian Iohan Ştefănescu