How to Help a Child with a Learning Disability Comprehend Reading

Today, we'll share a series of tips that parents and teachers can apply to hep children with a learning disability comprehend reading.
How to Help a Child with a Learning Disability Comprehend Reading
María José Roldán

Written and verified by the psychopedagogue María José Roldán.

Last update: 27 December, 2022

Although it’s common for children to struggle with reading, it’s very important for learning. Younger children need not only to read, but to comprehend reading as well in order to advance in their daily learning. Reading is knowledge, so it’s essential to help children with learning disabilities comprehend reading.

For many parents, this task isn’t at all simple, but it’s not impossible either. We need to know how to help so that, little by little, children can read well and gain reading comprehension skills, even if they have a learning disability. The first thing that parents must keep in mind is that they must respect their children’s pace and abilities, because only in this way will they be able to advance properly.

How to Help a Child with a Learning Disability Comprehend Reading

Ask them questions to help them comprehend reading

When a child is reading, you should ask them questions about what they’re reading. This way, you’ll be testing their understanding of the reading and its content. You can even ask them some questions in writing as well, because you’ll also reinforce their reading comprehension and they’ll be able to think about the answer better.

By writing your questions down, you can reduce the pressure on your child. They’ll have time to think about the answer without feeling pressured to come up with a quick answer. Respect their time and remember that if they don’t know how to answer a question, just go back to that part of the reading so they remember and can better internalize the information.

Use scents to help children remember

When your child’s studying or reading some content that they need to remember for a test, make it interesting. You can use a scent while your child is reading or studying so that later, when they smell that particular scent, they’ll remember what they were studying or reading.

For many children, a certain smell can help them remember a specific moment or memory. While your child’s studying for a particularly hard or stressful test, ask them to wear a certain scent, such as a specific lotion or perfume.

The reading corner

It’s important for children not to feel that reading is an obligation, because then they won’t want to do it or will see it as a burden. No one likes to have things imposed on them, and your child is no exception. In this sense, it’s much more practical and useful to motivate your child to experience reading as a moment of relaxation, personal growth and, above all, leisure.

To do this, prepare a special corner in your home where your child can sit quietly and read alone or in company. You can even adapt it so that it can be their silent study corner where nobody bothers them.

A table, cushions on the floor, a comfortable chair, books on shelves, enough natural and artificial light to make reading comfortable… Think about how to arrange this room so that your child can use it assiduously.

Write book reports

Writing book reports can be a challenge, especially for children with special needs or learning disabilities. This strategy can help keep your child from feeling overwhelmed with a book by making them remember it chapter by chapter.

Ideally, you’ll have several sheets of lined paper stapled together to make a personalized notebook. However, you can also get a notebook that’s only to be used for making book summaries or writing down what they’re learning.

Each time your child finishes reading a chapter, have them write a sentence or two to describe what happened. Have them read what they wrote about previous chapters before starting a new one. This will help them remember what’s happening in the story.

How to Help a Child with a Learning Disability Comprehend Reading

When your child finishes the last chapter, have them write a few sentences to describe how the book ended. They’ll end up with a complete summary to help them understand and remember everything they read. They’ll feel great because they’ll have remembered the reading and will be able to break down the information.

Talk to your child to help them comprehend reading

Talk to your child about the main problems that come up when they sit down to read. What seems to be most difficult? What distracts them? How can they find ways to stop the distractions?

Once you’ve brainstormed ways to make reading more productive, write a contract with your child that implements the agreed-upon strategies. That way, every time a strategy is used successfully, give them points for a reward.

In the end, we hope that these ideas for helping children with learning disabilities comprehend reading will be useful to you and that you’ll put them into practice at home with your little ones.


This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.