When parents read books aloud with children, it not only helps the children have more vocabulary and get prepared for kindergarten; it also helps them understand a wide range of morals, values and the perks of being good. However, when it comes to reading together with the children with special needs, it is not as simple as it sounds; the type of the story, the way it’s being told, the feel of the pages and its illustrations, all can make really big difference.
In order to ensure that the children with special needs enjoy the positive and rewarding experience of reading books along with the adults and learn from the same, here are a few tips;
Even thought there are several children’s books available in the market, always pay more care to the books that you select to read with your child or children with special needs. Not all books are appropriate for all children; you need to consider the type of the book, the illustrations, the story being told, the size of the book and even the font while selecting a book to read with your child with special needs.
While searching for books for children with special needs, ensure that the books have simple themes with predictable or repetitive texts having stories on families and/or friends, relationships, social or self-help skills, or books that feature counting, the alphabet or even animals, for that matter.
Depending upon the ages of children, their attention spans can definitely vary. And, this can get even more difficult with children having special needs. In such situations, try to break down the sentences into smaller parts with more explanations to keep the attention of the children.
One of the best ideas to help the children with special needs to engage in the story is to use props. If you are reading a story of a bunny, give the child a toy of a bunny to help the child better concentrate. Having something tactile, to hold onto, makes the child more confident and attentive.
Another easy way to attract the attention of the child is to use various objects glued onto the page as ‘page-turners’. Gluing Popsicle sticks or soft Pompoms onto the pages at different levels can attract the attention of the child and help them grab and turn the pages easily. It will also help the child pay attention to wait to turn the page again next time. This can prove to be a great advantage for children to improve their fine-motor skills.
It is always conducive for children having language and speech delays to select books having stories that have a lot of rhymes or repetitions. Search for books that have images of animals and actions that talk; cats saying ‘meow, meow’ or the sound of the water as ‘splish, splash’. This can help the children make the sound as reading to help them grasp more words and understand the same.
Whenever you are reading stories to children, varying the tone and pitch of your reading makes it interesting for them—especially those who have hearing impairments. If you can make gestures and body movements as you read on, it can help the children pay attention to you and whatever is being read to them.
Asking questions to the children while reading books out to them can make them more alert and attentive. Ask simple questions that they can answer and reward and appreciate them when the questions are answered. If they find it difficult to answer, help the find the answers and recite the answers with them. This can help the children be more attentive and create sense of success when they answer the questions.
Paying attention to these factors while reading with your child with special needs can make reading an enjoyable and worthwhile experience to your child, all the while helping them develop several of their speech and linguistic skills.