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How Adults Can Support Processing


Study Skills & Tools All Ages Strategy


Processing Speed

How Adults Can Support Processing

If your student works or responds very slow and deliberately

When It Matters

Processing speed is the rate at which you see, think about and react to information. Everyone processes at a different rate. Some students process more quickly what they see or read than what they hear and vice versa. Processing speed matters when students need to listen, think and respond to questions or information during class or in a conversation, or on a test, quiz or homework assignment. At times they might need to respond quickly but accurately. In other circumstances, they might have an unlimited amount of time.

What To Keep In Mind When Supporting Your Student

  1. Students with slower processing speed might feel like they can never keep up, which might lead to rushed work and discouragement. Given the time to listen, understand, and react, these students can show their best work and very often excel.
  2. Helping your students understand how long tasks take them can help them plan how much time they need, when they need to work quickly, and when they might need to ask for additional time.
  3. Building in extra time when possible on assignments will help students with slower processing speed show their best work and strengthen their confidence in their abilities.

Top Go-to Strategies

  1. Encourage students with slower processing speed to build awareness of and focus on working at a pace that is comfortable, rather than rushing through work to finish with their peers. Encourage them to ask for help, especially if they are unsure that they will be able to finish the assignment on time.
  2. Have students use a timer during homework to help them keep track of time spent, as long as it's not distracting or stressful. Have students write down how long different types of assignments take, so they can learn to budget time.
  3. Have your student make a schedule before starting homework each night. They can estimate how much time they will spend on each assignment so they can finish everything.
  4. Work with the student on memorization. The more automatic information is, the easier it will be to apply what they know and work a little more quickly.
  5. Help your student adjust during group work with these tips.
  6. If the student has trouble following along or taking notes in class, record class discussions, or have the student share notes with another classmate.
  7. Remind your student to focus on quality over quantity. The quality of their writing and the reading level of the books chosen is more important than meeting a specific standard for length of the paper or book.
  8. Ultimately, it is most important that your student begins to recognize and adapt when a weaker skill is interfering in learning. Middle or High School students can use this checklist to become more self-aware of their processing speed.
  9. Find additional ideas for a student who has an IEP or 504 Plan here.