Teaching reading to low functioning students children with special needs


            Children with special needs deserve learning just like those without special needs. These students in many countries have access to the general curriculum and learning and therefore, teachers who are involved in teaching low functioning students are required to identify the best way through which they manage a classroom so that all students receive the best education (Boyle et al, 2003). Many parents are concerned about the learning of their children with disabilities. In this paper, teaching reading to low functioning students will be discussed.


            Low functioning students require more practice in reading as compared to the other students who have master skills. One of the ways through which low functioning students can be taught to read is through grouping strategies. This is important in reading instruction. According to the US Office of Special Education Programs, the strategy of developing reading groups work very well when teaching reading to low functioning students. Example of reading strategy grouping includes the combined grouping formats, cross-age tutoring, peer tutoring and the use of small learning groups.Poems can be used to teach low functioning students how to read. Poems are preferred because it may be difficult for a teacher to find good teaching materials due to the large gap that exists between the low functioning student’s age and the reading level. Poetry is an effective way of teaching low functioning students how to read because they need to be read out to loudly. When students read out loudly, they are able to practice reading with the assistance of the teacher (Oelwein, 1995). In addition, the students enjoy learning when they find poetry very interesting due to the rhythm and rhyme that is found in simple poems. In order to implement poetry in a reading curriculum, teachers require a good lesson plan.

            To develop a lesson plan for teaching reading to low functioning students, a teacher should develop the objectives of the lesson and the overall teaching program. This should be followed by identifying all the materials that should be used to teach. For example, audio books, photos, pictures, charts and materials for extra curricular activities. Procedure of each teaching lesson should be identified and well developed to assist low functioning students to learn reading well. Methods of assessing the effectiveness of each lesson on the student’s performance should be designed. The lesson plans should go hand in hand with the requirements of the education department. Developing a quality lesson plan requires a teacher to consider what he or she would like to teach the students followed by the development of specific and clear objectives of teaching (Torgesen, 1987). Materials that should be used in teaching should be known and a step by step procedures needs to be stipulated in a lesson plan. Adaptations for the students should be done in relation to reading. A connection section can be included in the lesson to integrate reading with other subjects.

            Some of the ways through which a teacher can aid low functioning students is through reading instruction. Various methods of reading instruction may  include teaching is using vocabulary before one starts reading,  pictures, video clips or pictures to preview the content of the reading, reading out the passage loudly to students, developing flashcards when teaching reading, using high interest reading material and breaking long passages into segments. Teaching reading to children with disabilities should teach good behavior and boost the self-esteem of the students. To assist special needs learners with reading comprehension, strategies that a teacher can use include word recognition activities and graphic organizers.

            Audio books can be used to teach reading in low functioning students. The books assist the students to acquire language by improving the auditory processing and the cognitive ability. For instance, books that are put in tape increase the students’ interest and motivate them to read and to expand their learning (Chenfeld and Haley, 2005). The major aim of the reading aloud strategy is the sustained silent reading (SSR). However, when this technique is used on low functioning students, teachers should find out what is interesting to each student and then use a magazine or book to feed the students’ interests. Teachers may also use unabridged recorded books to enable students read literature on various topics such as science, history and math word problems. By listening to audio books, low functioning students are able to improve their language skills and also have their overall cognitive abilities improved. Audio books have proved to be effective in teaching low functioning students because they improve image correlation, pronunciations and speech patterns as well as content comprehension. Behavioral modification systems can be used to coordinate reading in class and at home. In addition, extra curricular activities can be used to offer students an opportunity to practice what they learn.


            Students with special needs require proper education. Due to their needs, they need extra attention of the teachers and the school administration. The major aim of the reading aloud strategy is the sustained silent reading (SSR). When this technique is used on low functioning students, teachers should find out what is interesting to each student, and then use a magazine or book to feed the students’ interests. One of the most important areas of learning that these students need is how to read. Reading is very critical because it offers the students an opportunity to learn a language and to practice what they learn in class. Teaching reading to students with special needs can be challenging for teachers who may not be well prepared for teaching. There are many and different methods of effectively teaching the students  with special needs how to read.However,every teacher should be able to evaluate the various methods and choose the most suitable for his or her class.Lesson plans are very important in teaching and  teachers should always develop good lesson plans to ensure good teaching.


Boyle, E et al.2003.  Effects of audio texts on the acquisition of secondary-level content by      students with mild disabilities.  Learning Disability Quarterly, 26(3), 203-214.

Chenfeld, B., and Haley, C.2005.  Letter Writing and Book Listening: Advice from Special      Education Teachers.  Voices from the Middle, 12(4), 21-24.

Oelwein, P.1995. Teaching Reading to Children with Down syndrome: A Guide for Parents and             Teachers, Woodbine House

Torgesen, K et al. 1987.  Using verbatim text recordings to enhance reading comprehension in   learning disabled adolescents.  Learning Disabilities Focus, 3(1), 30-38.


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