2. Children with special needs benefit from multiple opportunities to practice and demonstrate learning so that reading becomes automatic
To become fluent in various reading skills and strategies, children with special needs require extensive practice. Provide time for children to repeat and/or select related activities until they are performing the skills effortlessly and quickly. Be creative in giving them several ways to “show what they know and can do” when reading. Instruction that facilitates meaningful practice and allows children to demonstrate their knowledge in multiple ways includes:
- Learning center activities that provide children opportunities to practice what they have learned rather than introducing new skills. These activities oftentimes use materials such as magnetic letters for making words, sentences that have been cut into phrases or words so that the children can construct and read familiar sentences, and tracing and writing materials for spelling.
- Games such as generic board games that allow children to practice sight words or beginning and ending sounds, or oral language games such as “I Spy,” played with rhyming words or sounds.
- Songs and chants.
- Repeated reading using partners or taped/CD-ROM books to increase reading fluency.
- Word card or sentence strip activities to build automatic word recognition.
- Self-monitoring opportunities such as charting the number of sight words a child reads correctly or the child’s reading rate.
- Individual or cooperative projects in which children choose how to demonstrate their learning, such as making a picture, advertisement, or storyboard and then telling about it.
- Test/assignment adaptations, such as simplifying language; repeating or reading directions, using picture cues; increasing space for writing; reducing the number/size of assignments; allowing the child to respond in a different way such as “telling” rather than “writing”; extending time; awarding partial credit; or scoring spelling and grammar based on the child’s developmental level.